Before you learn about Urban Born, I think it’s important you know the backstory. My name is Desh, I was born in India, and even though I was raised in the United States, I’ve always felt a deep connection to my birthplace. So much so that when I had the opportunity to study abroad in college, I chose India.
It was such a beautiful experience to be able to live there and reconnect with my culture. During my stay, I began to understand the struggles of the forgotten artisans and I wanted to help.
One of my first jobs out of school, I was working with a nonprofit that helped supply solar panels to rural communities in India. In isolated areas, lack of electricity doesn’t just affect daily life, it makes it difficult for artisans to earn a living wage. Imagine having to end your workday early and take a pay cut because you don’t have the lighting necessary to do your job. I felt real satisfaction in helping people have access to light 24/7. There’s so much work to be done to improve their craft, I wanted to help, but I just didn’t know where to start.
In 2016 I traveled to India for my cousin’s wedding. While mingling at the reception, I met Pankaj, an amazing guy who has spent years building up a business to support local artisans.
I was intrigued and thrilled when he offered to show me the studio. It was magical seeing the artisans at work. This group is preserving centuries of talent and culture in metalworking. Moradabad is known as the “Brass City” throughout India. For hundreds of years, they have been one of the largest exporters of metalwork in the world.
Promoting the artisans in India was easy for Pankaj, but he was eager to expose their craft to the US, Canada, Europe, and beyond. If he could do that, he would be able to better support their livelihood. Pankaj asked me if I knew of anyone who could help them do that. My first thought… me!
After returning home, I thought about it more and I just knew I’d found my calling. I had finally found a way I could help make a difference in India. I talked to Pankaj a few more times on the phone before I returned to India to talk business and plan how to build a brand we could launch in the West. That’s when Urban Born was created.