Boca-based Mela Artisans celebrates 10th anniversary of bringing Indian-artisan creations to America


Staff report 

Boca Raton-based Mela Artisans has been bringing handcrafted artisanal work from India to the local market for the past decade.

The social impact company was founded by Delray resident Navroze Mehta and his daughter, Sonali Mehta Rao.

They created the business after his daughter spent time in India for an internship. They recognized that India has a rich history of artisanal work from wood carving and in lay work to all different forms of handcrafted goods, but that those local artisans struggled to gain access to the global market.

The duo decided they wanted to bring the artisan’s work of traditional crafting, combine it with contemporary designs, and bring it to market to folks who valued handmade, sustainably sourced items.

So before the now trendy concept of sustainable shopping was important to consumers, Mela Artisans was doing it.

“Our goal was how do we play a role in preserving our heritage’s craft and showing the world how beautiful these crafts can be while providing a livelihood.”

The company gives more than 1,000 artisans full-time work.

“We are a brand with a purpose,” he said. “Measuring our impact is an important part of our DNA.”

And while his daughter is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the company, she still serves on its board. She currently resides in India.

He said it was very rewarding to start the company with his daughter.

“It’s a great experience to work with your children,” he said.

Melia Artisans once had flagship stores in New York, Vermont and Mizner Park in Boca Raton. But with the shift to online shopping, products can be purchased online or in wholesale retail stores like HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx.

Popular items are household decorative trays and nesting boxes as well as jewelry. The focus is typically on home decor and lifestyle pieces.

Mehta said the company launched a new furniture line about a year ago that has been successful and most recently a pet line.

Recently, the company collaborated with designer Johnny Was to create a line of items including vases and bowls.

“We always want to provide beautiful, contemporary handcrafted products,” he said.

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