Meraki Bags - Empowering Women

A Project By Nicole Denholder
This Project will only be funded if USD 15,000 is pledged by Monday, 31 July 2017 23:59 HKT.
102% Complete
goal USD 15,000
amount raised USD 15,350
backers 63


By buying one of our unique, hand-painted Meraki bags, you can help empower many young girls in India.

By supporting our campaign and upcycling your bag or buying one of our unique, hand-painted Meraki bags, YOU can help economically EMPOWER many young girls in India. 

What is Meraki?

We have launched Meraki with the mission of promoting India’s traditional art forms in a sustainable way. Our artists individually handpaint each high quality leather bag. Each of our bags is one-of-a kind, telling a unique story associated with the art and touched with the heart, soul and hands of our talented artists. Our mission is to be eco-conscious while promoting art, so we can even upcycle your old luxury bag with beautiful handpainted art. You, our patrons, are helping carry forward this legacy by being one of our storytellers. 


Why are we crowdfunding? 

Along the way we discovered that one of India’s favourite folk art styles, called Madhubani, is widely passed down by female generations. By helping them train and practice their art in a clean, safe place, the art can have a far-reaching impact on their lives – giving them economic independence as they can paint and earn a living while taking care of their families.

Thus we designed the Meraki APPER Collection - a beautiful collection of handpainted Madhubani wallets and handbags. And with the help of YOUR purchase of one of the bags from this collection or UPCYCLING YOUR BAG , all profits from the sales through our crowdfunding campaign goes towards funds to build a school run by a non profit (Madhubani Apper) to teach this art to young girls in Madhubani village in Bihar, India. As part of the collection will be painted by the teachers and the previous students taught in the school, it also empowers them to be financially independent by practicing this art form. As more of you carry these bags and spread the word about us, we can send more work to the school and make this a sustainable business for them.


Our funding goal: USD 15,000

"100% of profits from this collection will be given to Mahubani APPER for the construction of the their training centre and school"

The total budget for constructing this school and all the facilities is approximately 18 lakhs INR (~USD 27,000). We are using this campaign to raise the minimum amount (our profits from this from past experience would be ~USD6000, this is the amount we are targeting to send to Madhubani Apper) needed to start the construction of one of the buildings of the school where girls can be taught (in the FAQ's this is marked in bold in the total budget section). This is currently a ‘kuccha’ construction which gets washed away every rainy season and is a real need for the school.

We need to raise this money and construct a school before the rainy season begins in August.  

We will update you on where your money is going through each stage of the fundraising and allocation process and also about the progress of the contruction of the school. Once the money is sent across, it is estimated to take about 2 months to contruct.


You can choose to support the campaign by selecting any one of the handpainted Madhubani wallets or bags designed to support Madhubani Apper OR BY UPCYCLING YOUR OWN BAG 

REWARD 10: Upcycle your own Bag into a limited edition bag with gorgeous Madhubani Art HKD1170/ USD150


Some examples of upcycled Gucci, Mulberry bags with Madhubani art are below, please write to [email protected] if you want more details about this,


REWARD 11: Handpainted Leather Business Cardholder personalised with your initials HKD 390/ USD 50


REWARD 12: Meraki handpainted wood Clutch - In the Waters of Purity for HKD 1560/ USD 200


REWARD 1:  Meraki Handpainted Leather Wallet - Yin & Yang for HKD 1170 USD 125



REWARD 2: Meraki handpainted Leather Sling Bag -Sun & Moon for HKD 1755 / USD 225


REWARD 3: Meraki handpainted Leather Sling Bag - Oh Hong Kong for HKD1950 / USD 250


REWARD 4 : “Fana” Tan SLING BAG FOR HKD 1950/USD 250


REWARD 5 : “The Fish Who Loved a Bird” Purple SLING BAG FOR HKD 1755/ USD 225


REWARD 6: Meraki Handpainted Leather Wallet - The Elephant for HKD 1170 USD 150


REWARD 7: Digital Postcards of our ‘Manu & the Fish Collection’ HKD 39/ USD 5


REWARD 8: Set of 5 handpainted greeting cards for HKD 156/ USD 20


REWARD 9: Meraki Handpainted Sling/Wristlet - 'Seeds of Love' for HKD 1560 USD 200



How do I receive my reward?

We are targeting to get these across to you before the end of September as the campaign will run till the end of July - of course we will be working overtime to get these across to you as soon as possible so it could also be sooner and we will keep you posted about the progress.

Tell me more about this non profit Madhubani APPER?

We’ve been working with Madhubani APPER since Meraki's inception 5 months ago. They are an Indian Non-Profit / NGO whose founder, Rama, lives for Madhubani art. She has been single-handledly running the ‘Madhubani School of Art’ in the Mithila region of Bihar, where the art-form originated. Rama, through her organization aims to educate the girls of the village in the traditional Madhubani art-form so they can continue to support themselves through their painting, as they continue through their lives. 

The art of Madhubani painting was once the pride of India’s state of Bihar – but poverty struck, and with a lack of funds, the art form is under danger of disappearing forever if we don’t act now to support the tradition and those who can keep it alive.
Apper launched a self-funded pilot project in 2004 and brought in a National Award Winning artist the late Chano Devi Paswan, who came to teach 10 talented female students (age 12-18). The teacher received a salary and the students a small scholarship to keep them attending classes.

After Paswan’s passing, State Award Winner Urmila Devi came in to take over the teaching.

This pilot project of the Madhubani School of Art and Culture turned out to be extremely successful - the students soon became highly proficient in painting marvellous pieces in this traditional style of art. They were also taught the techniques of natural color making for the paintings.


APPER strives to continue this project and build on the encouraging experience during the pilot phase. The goal is to further develop this endeavor and to render it sustainable and self-supporting. To ensure this, APPER is in the process of setting up a proper and appropriate infrastructure for the school.

Their initiative promises to contribute to poverty alleviation in this region stuck with extreme poverty. It will also lead to women empowerment as it is the women who are at the forefront of this art form. They want to establish the school on a more permanent basis and these funds.

What exactly is the budget for the school to make it first and then to run it

The total budget for constructing this school and all the facilities is approximately 18 lakhs INR (~USD 27,000), We are using this campaign to raise the minimum amount needed to start the construction of one of the buildings of the school where girls can be taught. This is currently a ‘kuccha’ construction which gets washed away every rainy season and is a real need for the school.

Cost item

Cost (INR)

1.Digging of bore well, hand pump and installation


2.Solar panels for empowering few bulbs, fan and water pump, solar system for water heating, installation and running of the solar system


3.Sewage tanks and toilet


4.Hut, Interiors and furniture of office cum reception


5.Building of a spacious thatched open air lodge for teaching students


6.Hut, Interiors and furniture for care taker


7.Building of kitchen and set up of kitchen facilities


8.Building of store room and its interiors for keeping the belongings of students


9.Boundary wall of the set up




(~USD 27,000)

Annual expenses for running the school:

Care taker (RS 5000/month)


Teachers (RS 7000/month) each (2 teachers)


Stipend for the students (RS 500/student/month) i.e. RS 6,000/student/year.

For 20 students 20X6,000=1,20,000


What about the land required for this school? Which location exactly will this be at?

APPER already has this land on lease for 33 years. Apper pays Rs 5000 per month as rent and 10% increase every year to the government for leasing this land. This school is located in between village Jitwarpur and Ranthi, in Madhubani District of Bihar.

Who will be the administration for the regular running of the school?

Administration will be taken care by Dr. Rama Bharti along with the staff members at school.

Who will be the teachers?

The school currently has two teachers, one for senior group and one for junior group. Indu Devi and Shanti Devi are the two teachers right now. Also, the school has a care taker, who looks after the belongings and other logistics.

How many girls will be taught per year?

As it is a self funded project so, the school has only 21 girls right now. But, more than 50 girls could get training in a year if the right funds are available.

What has been achieved in the past?

Every year 20 girls have been trained and most of them are married. They earn their livelihood and are self sufficient, some are still attached to the school and work on projects for the school.

Tell me more about Meraki

Our mission is to promote India's lost traditional folk arts in a sustainable way and bring patronage back to these arts. We are working with more than 50 artists across India within a short span of 5 months of launch. To be true to our mission of promoting arts in a sustainable way, it is important for us to ensure that the younger generation continues to practise these arts , finding fulfilment, recognition as well as be economically self sufficient by practising the arts. 

To learn more about Meraki bags, please visit

Who has started Meraki?



Hi, I am Yosha. My mother Vibha Gupta and I have together launched Meraki. Meraki is a labour of love for us to create a space for Indian arts in the world and help bring patronage back to our talented artists by creating beautifully handpainted contempory products starting with bags. 

The arts have always played a very important part in my life and I have worked hard to promote Indian arts in Hong Kong with a team of volunteers over the last 8 years by inviting Indian classical musicians and dancers and organsing more than 40 events across Universities and Schools in Hong Kong. I believe that now, more than ever, the arts have such an important role to play , to teach us empathy, mindfulness , devotion & commitment to perfecting what we do and it would mean the world to me and the team at Meraki if you could support our campaign.

A bit more about me - I am also the Founder & CEO of LafaLafa, a leading coupon and cashback website ( & Android App with more than 1 million downloads in India rewarding customers for online shopping with extra cashback. We are backed by 500Startups and Vectr Ventures and also a part of Facebook’s FBStart programme as well as Cyberport’s Startup programme in Hong Kong. I have spent 12 years in the FinTech sector and worked across Asia (India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar) with my most recent role being a Financial Inclusion Consultant with the International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group where I have worked on digitisation and payments in Agricultural and SME value chains.

My mother Vibha is an artist and the person responsible for my love for arts. She manages design for Meraki and works with all the artists and artist groups in India to create our beautiful products.


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Road to Revival


Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

Posted by Nicole Denholder
October 6, 2017 02:10
6 years ago

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