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Trinkets: Where Style Goes Social – An Alternate Economy Endeavour #INTERVIEW

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By Brototi Roy:

Two friends, one late night frustrated call, an idea to showcase their creativity, the will to back that idea, the determination to give something back to the society and the resolve to do so in their own unique way. In a nutshell, this is the story behind Trinkets- where style goes social.

Trinkets is the brainchild of Bhoomika Tiwari and Smarika Kumar, two fourth year law students at the National Law Institute University, Bhopal , Madhya Pradesh and was founded in March, 2011 as a project to showcase their creativity and help the poor and the needy with the money they make. They work on the principle that our economy should be an economy of choice, rather than being an economy of commodities. They believe generation of capital is a corollary, human satisfaction from work lies at the centre.

The following is an excerpt from the interview of the two founders to know more about this unique project of social entrepreneurship.

Please tell us something about the founders and the core members?

Smarika: Trinkets really started as a random idea Bhoomika and I had. She had been making jewelry as a hobby and we thought the stuff she made was pretty cool. That’s when the idea of Trinkets floated into our minds. Trinkets does not really have a core member group with a hierarchical setting. It is just a bunch of people who work together when they can to create something which interests them and makes them feel good. Some get more involved than the others in particular times- it all depends on their convenience.  Plus this lack of a “core member” group ensures there’s trust, people enjoy what they do and do different things as per their interests, which also keeps away monotony.

What was the idea or the inspiration that started Trinkets?

Bhoomika : There was no particular idea that jump started Trinkets really. It was rather a series of ideas and lots of excited discussion that led to what Trinkets is today. I remember chatting with Smarika late one night. It must have been 3. And I was cribbing about how I couldn’t sleep because I had done nothing productive that day and how I really needed to do something. And then next thing I remember is that I was fishing around in drawers for beads and making a slave bracelet and sending a picture of it to Smarika. So here we had something but what to do with it? Just making jewelry for nothing didn’t make much sense. And Smarika suggested that we could sell it at the college fest which was coming up in a few days. And I thought well there’s an idea! And then that led to the idea of using the profits to buy some books for the kids in Jhabua. Since I was making the jewelry Smarika also needed a job and so it was decided that she will handle the marketing. And for that we of course needed a name. After juggling some ideas in the break between our morning classes we settled on Trinkets! And to advertise before the fest we started auctioning some of the jewelry. Ironically we never did put up a stall for the fest but instead ended up with this giant of a project which keeps getting bigger but makes us so very happy too!

And so I guess you could say it was a late night chat and a rather poorly made slave bracelet that inspired us to create Trinkets.

How do you collaborate your work? Tell us something about your recent initiatives.

Bhoomika: Presently we are operating the NLIU (National Law Institute University) chapter of Trinkets which is also the first Trinkets chapter. We make a variety of handmade jewelry which we sell on our website on Tumblr. The first phase of our chapter which lasted till late October consisted mostly of auctions as we did not have a website in place to handle orders in a systematic manner. Now though after the release of our website we have entered into the second phase of the NLIU Chapter where we mostly conduct sales. However recently we had another auction (which was a first in the second phase). The auction was conducted during the Juris Corp Moot Court Competition which was being hosted by our college. This was our most organized and most well received auction till date. We auctioned three pieces of jewelry (The Spirits of the Vortex, The Morphed Totem and The Olive Shore) for an amount that I had not dared to even imagine. And the response that we received both in terms of volunteers and customers was overwhelming. And this excitement and coming together of so many people who probably would not otherwise hang out with each other to make the Trinkets auction a hit is probably what gives us even more joy. Now we have so many people asking us how they can get more involved and if we can teach them how to make jewelry and giving us more design ideas! So not only did Trinkets make some good bucks with this auction but we also generated a great deal of interest among the NLIU community which is what made it such a huge success I think.

Tell us a little more about your alternate economy experiments.

Smarika: We think of Trinkets as a movement in community production which challenges the existing notion of market production being the most efficient production mode possible. Assuming this is really a fallacy, just considering the fact that most people today- and I mean the people with a so-called decent standard of living are happy with their jobs. Most of them feel they are stuck in it, and a sense of hopelessness and nihilism generally seems to prevail. No one is really enjoying their work.  Work has become a job – with deadlines to meet, mechanical work to do and money to earn… all statistics, and where the human touch is lost. Can such an economy where people actually hate their work, but are forced to do it to earn a living be really sustainable? Trinkets asks this question as it engages people in working for and creating things which interest them- rather than making their work a burden. Trinkets is an attempt to criticize the idea of a market economy by shaking people in order to show how much they are missing in a market economy in terms of satisfaction borne out of working on something. In a place where labour becomes dehumanized and routine instead of the wonder which laboring on a creation is.

Another thing associated with the alternate economy concept of Trinkets is to show that community production is actually sustainable enough to compete against the goods produced in market production. That the quality of products of a community production are no less than the quality of products of market productions- in fact, the former is usually better, owing to the amount of thought and workmanship put into it. Also, the overall cost incurred in community production is actually less than market production, because while the former takes into account, social and environmental costs- placing human happiness at the peak, the latter concentrates primarily on profits-trying its best to escape liability from the larger costs which society incurs.

What are the future plans regarding Trinkets?

Smarika: We really hope that the Trinkets movement spreads whereby new Trinkets chapters are started in different communities. We already have a few proposals from over the country to start new chapters, so let us see…
Also, we don’t want to limit ourselves to just jewelry, but anything which people can create is a possible Trinkets product.

To know more about Trinkets – Where Style goes Social, visit their website or join the Trinkets Facebook page.

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