August 2017 Workshop on "Value Setting and Negotiation Skills
Dr. Sushma Jaswal, Co-founder and Director of Virsā conducted a workshop for our Artisans Community in August 2017. The topic was "Fair Value Setting of one's Phulkari work" and the following topics were discussed:
(1) How can we help our Artisans set a fair-value for their work? Literacy levels being very low, sometimes artisans may feel under confident about their numerical skills. Virsā has developed a simple "Rate Card" which can be visually demonstrated to the Artisan and she can cross-check to see if the Buyer's offer is fair or not. Several factors go into estimated the fair-value of a Phulkari Handicraft: Number of Motifs, Complexity of the Motif, Stitch and Pattern, Number of Thread Colors used and Quantity of Thread used for the piece, Type and Quality of Base-Fabric and Ease to work with (example: Its easier to spot the weave on Khaddar/Coarse handspun cotton but very difficult on fine Silk), Stencils & Wooden Frames needed and finally Number of Craftsmanship Hours taken to complete the product. Then there are subjective-factors such as: Experience, Skill-level and Creativity of the Artisan. It is our hope that with awareness and steady practice, our Artisans will be better able to negotiate with whoever purchases their Phulkari and be confident about the price they want to ask for their work.
(2) Another key aspect is "How to stand one's ground during a negotiation?" This skills-set can be difficult to acquire for anyone but is especially true for the rural Artisans who frequently suffer from low-esteem issues and are culturally taught not to "speak up loudly / against" especially if confronted by a male buyer (who, if from the city, may make it even more difficult for them). This subject, is of course, not a matter of simply one workshop but the idea is to gradually expose the Artisans to negotiation-situations via role-plays and slowly instil confidence in them.