Started by LB Group about 5 years ago, A-khila Paat was a dream project of founding chairman, Dipok Kumar Barthakur and his wife, Dr Indira Barthakur, a retired HOD. With offices at Barthakur Mill Road, the LB Group has been working with the local community and contributing to the local economy long before ‘Make in Assam’ became fashionable. Keeping in line with the vision of the parent company, A-khila Paat puts a lot of focus on skilling and employing local village women and young people. In addition to that, it seeks to promote green products to help reduce pollution, a need of the hour.
The core team at LB Group is an all-woman team including Dr Indira Barthakur, Chairman, Dr Nivedita Barthakur-Sondhi, CEO and Amrita Barthakur, Director. The outer ring includes young guns such as Karishma Kayal (CFO), Maitreye Deka (Accounts Lead), Satyajit Deka (Operations Manager) and marketing geniuses–Kangkan Das and Biju Sharma.
We speak to the team to find out more about this brand that hopes to switch consumers in the State to greener products.
Tell us more about the vision behind the brand
A-khila Paat grew out of a desire to make the community a part of the growth and development dream that we all espouse for Assam and the Northeast. Northeast of India is an eco-sensitive region where rampant industrialisation in the conventional sense will threaten our survival and the life we treasure today. Hence, in our quest for green industries, we started focusing on paper which is ubiquitous in our lives but whose production by conventional methods is one of the most polluting industries. In our trips abroad, we would notice an increasing trend of using recycled and handmade paper; nearer home Jaipur is a hub as well as Nepal. So started our journey to bring in a green industry to the Northeast using local produce like banana fibre, pineapple fibre, jute and local textiles; involving communities by directly employing and imparting training to local youth and women and indirectly to several villages.
Why give so much importance to add Northeast elements to the designs?
Northeast India is a diverse landscape with its own magnificent heritage, culture, flora and fauna. People tend to club all of us in one homogenous geography; however, every tribe, every region, even within a State, each of us reflect uniqueness and beauty.
A-khila Paat is proud of this heritage and of our roots. We also believe that for too long, we have chosen to be separated by petty differences in this region. But together we can be stronger without losing our distinct identity. Our differences and diversity can be our strength. This is our USP and A-khila Paat stands for everything Northeast. Each of our designs can be identified with this beautiful region, be it textiles or traditional motifs or the flowers and trees.
Tell us more about the people working in this venture? Do you offer any training?
All the workers in our factory are from nearby villages and localities. We have identified some lead workers who have been trained at Jaipur in various aspects of paper making. They in turn become trainers so it has a domino effect. A-khila Paat employs women and young people. We are very careful not to employ child labour.
We also aim to work with village clusters – be it for our requirement for jute, handloom textiles, banana and other fibres etc. We are making slow but sure progress in this aspect. We are also sourcing raw materials from other states.
How has the response been so far?
The lack of awareness and support has been a serious barrier to our growth. Our people do not value our own products. We do not mind spending lakhs on a Louis Vuitton handbag but we will bargain to the last paisa for a Rs 250 notebook. We have also received advice on changing our designs to those commonly prevalent like Rajasthani block prints and English Rose patterns. However, we have decided to stick to our original concept. We are persistent, and slowly we are being accepted and recognised.
Where are your products available?
Currently, we have a premium range that is available in various Konyak stores in Guwahati, including Hotel Taj Vivanta and at the Ethnic Warehouse, Aizawl. We also retail our printed range through Sohum Shoppe and Maati Centre in Guwahati.
What next for A-khila Paat?
We are planning to diversify our product range and enter the recycled packaging and hospitality industry. We are also looking at collaborations with organisations that work to protect environment and promotes recycling. But in whatever we do, A-khila Paat will always to be a brand which is recognised as of this land!
You can directly order through their Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can also call at 84863 50451, 81349 60777, and 70026 06109 or send an email to [email protected]
This feature was first published in Eclectic Northeast July 2018 issue