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Looking at Banalata
Banalata is an online store that offers authentic Jamdani as well as other saris in many different forms of embroidered work. Created by Kazi Umme Salma, the idea of the store was to employ local craftspeople and showcase their amazing skill.
“Initially, our target was to start a business that used local craftspeople. These are the most hardworking people of our country. We also wanted to offer products at a more reasonable price compared to other stores and that’s how it all started,” said Salma.
At the very beginning, the owner struggled to find the right location to set up shop in Dhaka. After coming up empty, she decided to open an online store instead. Fast forwarding to now, the store offers embroidered quilts, Jamdani products, pottery items, home décor items and much more.
All of the products are made using local materials with Jamdani given a little more importance for its demand. “We have always had a fascination with Jamdani and the prices of the stores selling Jamdani here are a lot more than the manufacturing price. I wanted to bring in a more affordable Jamdani and offer it to the general public,” added Salma.
It was tough for Banalata to get into the market at first. They were struggling to get access to dressmakers and after a lot of searching all around Narayanganj and Narsingdi, they finally found a group. The store now sources its products from many locations including Jamalpur, Jessore and Comilla.
After getting a positive response online, Banalata is now extending its list of different products to include Batik as well as local lawn. The result is a lot of new and unique party sarees in many different patterns. Salma added, “We are getting a good response so far. For right now, we personally hired a few people to help us with deliveries around Dhaka but once we become fully established, we will look to expand our horizons ever more.”
The online store is already displaying products on an international stage using online portals. With so much competition online, Banalata looks to make its mark in the online communities over the coming months.