Li Yilin, better known as Da Yao to her clients,was previously selling scarves mass produced in Nepal. The gradual increase in the disposable income in China along with the exposure to global trends, led Li to source the best handmade scarves for consumers who now had increasingly sophisticated tastes. The unique artisanship in Kashmir offered the finest high quality handmade products. By establishing direct access to Kashmiri craftsman, Li was able to offer the scarves at a better price to her customers in China. A registered seller on Taobao Global, a division of Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao that focuses on overseas products, Li is one of the first Chinese sellers to use live streaming to help revive hand crafted cashmere wool scarves in her home market.
Li has partnered with almost 400 artisans till date and has attracted nearly 40,000 followers since opening her store two years ago along with selling about 20,000 premium scarves. She has been instrumental in creating jobs for her local partners who mostly comprise of family run studios.
One of the main challenges Li had to overcome was to showcase the craftsmanship behind creating a scarf. This could not be brought to the forefront through photographs. In Jan 2018 Li live-streamed for seven consecutive hours on Taobao, marketing artisanal cashmere scarves to about 33,000 viewers watching from their mobile phones.Li’s pitch from Kashmir, the birthplace of cashmere craft, is something that stood out. Through the livestream, she was actually selling the Kashmir experience to viewers.
Li’s Future Plans:
Li aims at creating a niche for local skills like scarf making with an aspiration to preserve this craft and promote local handicraft at a global scale. This age old skill is now at the verge of extinction due to the lack of people willing to keep this legacy alive. Li hopes that her association with Taobao will enable this set of artisans to flourish.
Testimonial from Kashmiri Artisan:
Seventy-five year old Gulam Hassan Bhat is one of the artisans on-board who shared his experience of selling embroidered scarves through Li. Even with 60 years of experience, he said it takes anywhere from six months to two years to finish a scarf. But with the sales Li has made, it has turned out to be worth it.