Meet The Maker: Bheemaiah.K.K, Bheemstyx, Bangalore

Bheemaiah of  Bheemstyx, Bangalore designs all-purpose sticks. Let’s find out more about his unique craft venture and look forward to seeing his works at our upcoming makers market event here in Chennai.

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A bit about yourself and what you do.
Professionally planter, by passion into events, currently designing all-purpose sticks – ideal for hikers, social walkers, home decor and walking stick collectors.

As I have given life into each branch as these gifts of nature into walking sticks that are functional works of art and are unique treasures : this allows each design to speak for itself & to tell its unique story. With a host of beautiful sticks to choose for walking, a handcrafted BHEEMSTYX can be an enjoyable experience – for stability in each step, protection  or simply a fashion accessory stick to meet all needs.Each of my design is unique as nature provides only one design of its kind, so each piece is different. These sticks price ranges from Rs 500 to 6000/-

How long does it take to make a product? What’s involved?
4 months to year and above, collecting, treating, seasoning, cleaning etc.

Where do you look for inspiration? And what is inspiring you now?
When a local tribal friend gave me stick from my home town, I thought I can make them too and even much better.

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Describe your work space and what’s it like?
A bunch of dedicated strong friend circle, who assist in their free time, collecting sticks, cleaning, painting etc.

What’s the best thing about being a creative entrepreneur?
You can decide what you want to do, follow your passion

Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
By Hand, From The Heart will be my first event in Chennai; happy & excited about how Chennai people will respond for my product.

Bheemaiah.K.K, of Bheemstyx, Bangalore, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

 

 

Meet The Maker: Margaret Thomas and Swapna Sathish, Simply Because, Chennai

We chat up with Margaret Thomas and Swapna Sathish, founders and creative designers at ‘Simply Because’, a home based art and design studio in Chennai. With four decades of experience in art and design education between them; Margaret Thomas and Swapna Sathish share with us in brief the story of ‘Simply Because’. 

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A bit about yourself and what you do.

‘Simply Because’ was born from the excitement and interest generated by two creative minds that have image and word as strengths. With four decades of experience in art and design education between them, Margaret Thomas and Swapna Sathish decided it was time to extend their creativity. Why? Well, ‘simply because’… a humble phrase that they realised they habitually employ as they explain things.

Why is making important to you?
To us, the joy of creating beautiful little things is Zen.

How long does it take to make a product?
Depends… but deadlines are always met.

What is involved?
Our creative minds, and love for little details.

Where do you look for inspiration? And what is inspiring you now?
Our inspiration is around us. Our current muse is the city of Madras, that is, Chennai.

Describe your work space and what is it like?
We make ourselves comfortable with working anywhere that suits us at that moment.

Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
Our first showing with By Hand, From The Heart will consist of prints of hand-rendered artwork and stationery based on the city we live in, Chennai.

What is the best thing about being a creative entrepreneur?
We enjoy the freedom of working to our own briefs. Always excited with new opportunities and possibilities we have undertaken creative projects that include graphic design, mural painting and visual merchandising.

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Margaret Thomas and Swapna Sathish of Simply Because, Chennai will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Chinmaya Arjun Raja, Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle, Chennai

We chat up with Chinmaya Arjun Raja, a home chef, pickle maker and founder of Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle a home based food venture that makes heirloom pickle recipes and spice condiments.Chinmaya talks about his Pickling memories and inspirations behind his venture. He also shares with us his new array of products to be introduced at the By Hand From The Heart Makers Market in Chennai. 

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Why pickling?  

I have always been fascinated by the diversity of India’s culinary traditions. Pickle is an important aspect of Indian traditional food. I have myself been a part of the annual summer Pickling ritual. As a kid, I keenly observed the process followed by my grandmother, mother and other members of the extended family and later participated in the pickle making process by helping them dry the mangoes and mixing the various spices. A huge quantity of Pickles was made every year to be distributed as Gifts to friends in India and abroad. I have always been a big lover of these homemade pickles and used to take them for my own consumption and to be given as Gifts during my frequent travel in India and abroad. Pickle was one of the most interesting aspects of traditional Indian cuisine which I could showcase to people interested in Indian Food.

Many of my European friends who are well-known Chefs and wine makers always loved my pickles. I used my Pickles to make my friends get a taste of Indian Culinary traditions. Regular travel in Europe and having Chefs and winemakers/sommeliers as good friends helped me to further my interest about different cuisines, fermentation techniques, tastes and flavours. Traditional Indian Pickles was a great showcasing product during my travel abroad. I wanted to go back to one’s traditional roots to get inspiration to do something different.

Apart from my interests in Wines and the Wine Appreciation sessions which I regularly conduct, I always wanted to do something with Traditional Indian Food. The first thing that came to my mind was Pickles. I wanted to bottle my childhood memories associated with the pickle making ritual. Having tasted Pickles made all over India, both homemade as well as mass-produced Pickle brands, my idea was to bottle only homemade traditional pickles made by traditional families who have been continuing this family and community tradition.

As with my wines and food, I was always interested to know “the person behind the product” I wanted to give importance to the name of the person or family behind the product and their culinary history. So when I finally decided to start some initiatives related to traditional Indian food, Pickles were the first thing to come to my mind. So launched “PANAKAM – Tradition in a Bottle” and started bottling our own Mango Pickle called RAJAPALAYAM MANGO PICKLE with mangoes sourced from our own Mango groves in our native Rajapalayam. My mom is an inspiration as well as she is a very good cook. The whole family participated in this initiative. We together bottled our own family/community pickle, 100% Natural and Homemade. I will also call it a “family made” pickle. I think we should involve the whole family in these traditional culinary rituals.

Culinary tradition is also a part of the Cultural heritage and it has to be safeguarded for future generations. Pickling is a tool to remember our culinary history and heritage. My idea is to select such families who are continuing to make traditional pickles and make such pickles and other traditional products available through Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle. We already have 3 such families and we are in the process of finding more.

I am in the process of researching and documenting the Pickle making traditions of different communities and regions of India and selecting families to bottle their traditional pickles and other products.

Pickling at Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle. What’s involved? Could you run us through the process?

All the offerings under “Panakam–Tradition in a Bottle” brand are homemade by families continuing their traditional culinary heritage. We don’t use any preservatives and add colours or flavouring agents. It is 100% natural. We just follow the traditional process passed down through generations. We share what we have been cooking and eating at home.

Mangoes are available only during the summer months and it’s a challenge to make large quantities of sun-dried mango pickle at home for the whole year in just a few weeks. Most of our Mango pickle varieties are sun dried and weather plays an important role. I make sure I keep myself free during the summer months from all my other initiatives and concentrate only on Pickles. The mangoes are sourced from our mango groves. I am present at my native Rajapalayam when the mangoes are harvested at the farm. All the other ingredients are sourced locally as well with the help of my family and my extended family members. I make sure I am involved in all the process to keep tab on the quality of all the ingredients. I carefully select and approve the mangoes to be used. I cut the mangoes along with other family members and a few assistants whom we employ. All the mixing of various spices is done by me and my mom for the Rajapalayam Mango Pickle. I take care of the whole sun drying process. The pickling process of our different sun dried mango pickles takes 2-3 weeks. It is elaborate and time consuming and a lot of patience is needed Pickling needs constant attention. After the pickling process, we need to make sure it’s stored well. It has to be examined periodically and stored for a few months before bottling. Bottling is done hygienically in glass jars/bottles.

For the Anakapalle mango pickles, the mangoes and the ingredients are sourced from Andhra Pradesh and members of the Vedula/Saripalle are involved with the Pickling process and I make sure I am present during this process as well and handle all the sun drying part of this pickle.

Similar process is followed for other types of Pickles and the other new products like Podi’s & Chutneys.

Since the start of Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle in 2014, I cancel all my travel plans and other projects and take care of only the Pickling process during the summer months of April, May and June. Me with my Mom at our Kitchen Madhuri Saripalle & Family of Anakapalle – AP

The myths on Indian pickles, spices & condiments.

Pickle is part of the Indian Culinary tradition. It was developed to naturally preserve a few vegetables and fruits using a lot of trial & error approach and research done by previous generations to perfect the process. New spices which came to India through the Europeans created new flavours when it was used for Pickles and it was quickly adapted. Innovations have been taking place in Indian Culinary traditions in the past to suit the climatic conditions and healthy eating practices.

Indian Pickles made the traditional way at home are very healthy. Sun Dried Pickles has very less salt and oil content. Some Traditional pickles go through a fermentation process which is probiotic too. Spices used in our culinary traditions are very healthy which we all know.

Traditional home-made pickles made with rightly sourced quality ingredients with no added preservatives, colours or flavours are one of the healthiest parts of Traditional Indian meal. You just need to follow traditional know-how!

It is much healthier than many sugary & salty food and beverages consumed regularly!

Mass factory produced pickle brands use a lot of salt with added preservatives, colours and flavours. It is not healthy if consumed regularly.

It’s a problem not just with factory made Pickles but homemade Pickles as well. Pickles get too spicy and Oily with extra use of Chilli powder, salt and oil. You get to taste only the chilli and salty flavour. This happens not just with some homemade pickles but in some of the South Indian food items as well. Too much chilli and other spices ultimately remove the flavour out of the vegetables and the main ingredients in a dish. Most of the Pickles are too salty, hot and oily.

Awareness is growing and there are many home based food products trying to make and market healthy traditional food products with a proper balance of spices.

Balance of spices is very important for a flavourful and healthy Pickle. We at Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle try to get this balance in our product experiences. The method used in our pickling process combined with quality ingredients and care taken to put everything together by the Pickle maker, makes it healthy and natural.

What are your biggest challenges?

There are quite a few challenges for a home based food venture as the entire family has to be involved. Kitchen has to be clean and hygienic. Retailing of these homemade products is challenging too as the margins demanded by some retail outlets are sometimes too high. The cost of such homemade products is naturally more than the mass-produced labels which can be picked from any market.

It is a challenge to educate people about pickles and the difference between homemade pickles and factory made pickles. It is difficult to convince them that Pickles need not be always spicy, salty and Oily.

It is also challenging to convince people to believe pickles can be healthy if made properly. People don’t think twice to spend money on an imported factory made product with all added colours, preservatives and flavours and made thousands of miles away. But hesitate to spend on something traditional, healthy and made locally by families following their culinary traditions passionately.

What are you bringing this time to BHFTH?

Apart from our popular heirloom pickles like Rajapalayam Mango Pickle, Anakapalle Endaavakaya Mango Pickle, Gooseberry, Lime, Kadarangai (Citron) pickles, vadams etc we have also started making the rare Kaya Avakaya Whole Mango Pickle made in some parts of Andhra Pradesh. It is an elaborate and time consuming process pickling sun-dried whole mangoes. This will be a Limited Edition & Made to Order pickle.

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ANAKAPALLE KAYA AVAKAYA WHOLE MANGO PICKLE – Limited Edition & Made to Order

Selection of Spicy Powders – Podi’s for Accompaniments to South Indian Tiffins and Rice.

We have also launched around 10 different types of Podi’s (Spicy Powder/Gun Powder) to be used as an accompaniment to various South Indian tiffin’s like Idli, Dosa, Idiyappam and also with hot steamed rice with a dollop of Fresh Ghee. All the Podi’s are homemade by different families. They are 100% Natural with No Added preservatives, colours or flavours.

Apart from the popular Dal Podi’s, Curry leaves Podi, Coriander Podi, Sesame Podi, Idli Milagai Podi, we also have a unique & healthy Spicy Moringa leaves Podi (Drumstick leaves).

Launching of Panakam – Tradition in a Bottle’s TheMadrasBox:

“TheMadrasBox – Traditional South Indian Goodies” is an assorted gift box with Traditional South Indian Goodies like Pickles, Podi’s, Vadams, Chutneys and Syrups. This will be an ideal gifting option for giving someone a colourful & flavourful panorama of Traditional Homemade South Indian Food accompaniments. It can also be a good travel pack while travelling abroad.

All the “Panakam -Tradition in a Bottle” products will be available to pick and choose for this assorted Gift Box. It can be an assortment of just Pickles or Podi’s or Chutneys and it can also be a mix of all the products.

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“TheMadrasBox – Traditional South Indian Goodies” comes in different packing options and combinations. It can be packed either in traditional small Stainless Steel containers or in glass jars and the assortment of these can be packed in a traditional Stainless Steel Spice box or in specially made and aesthetically designed corrugated paper boxes or in a wooden spice box.

Today’s Gift boxes are filled only with all types of Imported foods and factory produced mass food products. We at PANAKAM – Tradition in a Bottle want to offer homemade Traditional South Indian Goodies, as a popular and healthy Gifting option.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business? 

I have been following my instincts and getting constantly inspired by our traditional culinary creations right from the start of my creation of PANAKAM – Tradition in a Bottle and along the way… I want to get the basic principles right and make sure we follow the path which was originally planned – to offer unique and quality traditional food products from the kitchens of families continuing their respective culinary heritage passed down through generations. I started this initiative to document these unique traditional products and not as a pure business proposition. But I am now convinced that it is a good & healthy small business venture with a lot of potential.

I have been getting a lot of advice from different people. But I have always let my passion and instinct to decide. My immediate family and extended family members have been a big support to my initiative and I always go back to them to get my advice and to get my passion and instinct validated.

You have participated in an earlier edition; what was your BHFTH experience?

We participated in two editions of BHFTH in 2015 and it had been a great learning experience. It was the first such experience for us. People who experienced our unique offerings at BHFTH have been our loyal customers and encouraged us to continue and do more…

It was also a great experience to interact with other artisans from all over India who exhibited their products as well. It was a professionally well-managed market.

What advice would you give to other food entrepreneurs?

Go back to your roots and get your inspiration. Use technology and modern infrastructure to supplement /compliment your traditional knowledge. We need to eat right and be conscious of not just what we eat but also conscious of how it is made and who makes them. Eat local and make friends with local people and get yourself taste their homemade food.

Chinmaya Arjun Raja of PANAKAM – Tradition in a Bottle, Chennai, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Sonali Raman, SR by Sonali Raman, Doha

Sonali Raman is the principal fashion and jewelry designer at SR by Sonali Raman. She is also a fashion consultant and faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University of Qatar. We catch up with the designer about her showcase at the By Hand From The Heart Makers Market event in Chennai. Let’s find out more…

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A bit about yourself.

I have been in the fashion business for over 26 years with diverse experiences spanning client side, retail, consultancy, interacting with manufacturers, sourcing and designing both in India and the Middle East. I worked for nearly two decades with a fashion buying house in India representing European retail brands, sourcing textiles, developing sample lines and finding the right sources to manufacture them. Being an alumnus of NIFT, New Delhi, I have been associated as jury member and guest faculty to the fashion students at NIFT, Chennai for ten years.

I moved to live in Doha, Qatar around eleven years ago and since have worked as a Fashion Consultant on several prestigious design projects related to fashion and garments like the Qatar Armed Forces Military Uniforms Project amongst others. I have also covered fashion trends for magazines in Doha like Glam and Woman Today. I did a stint as a Retail Buyer, buying worldwide for several brands for the stores in Doha. I have been teaching in the Fashion Department of the Virginia Commonwealth University of Qatar as Adjunct Faculty for the last seven years.

 

How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

I launched my own fashion brand over a year and a half ago. I had been toying with the idea for a while and wanted to have the freedom to create and work with certain crafts and textiles and this seemed the logical way to do it. I have always wanted to find a way to sustain dyeing craft and textile traditions of our country. I had my own brand of apparel when I was just a student and continued it for a few years until my day job started to take up all my time. So after several years, I decided to do something that I truly love and am passionate about, for myself!

My brand carries a line of fashion jewelry handcrafted, using traditional craft techniques in contemporary designs. The line of fashion ready-to- wear is a blend of modern silhouettes with natural fabrics and traditional embroidery techniques. This is an effort to keep the traditional crafts sustainable and yet relevant to the times. I work with craftpersons and artisans to create these products. You could say that I have been doing this kind of work since I was in high school…

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Why is making important to you? 

My love for the traditional crafts and textiles of India and the world is what makes me want to share it with everyone! Creating these pieces using an ancient form of embroidery or using special textiles in contemporary styles makes it more appealing to today’s audience and its important for me that people appreciate the work and effort that goes into it and begin to love it like I do. I believe that this is a sustainable way forward if we don’t want to lose our traditional techniques of crafts and weaving.

What’s your most challenging work so far. 

I once did a kids wear collection for the luxury brand “Dior Kids”. It was for baby girls between the ages of 1 and 4 years, made in jersey and the most difficult part was that each piece had a border made by hand using the traditional Tye & dye technique of our country. The challenge for me was to explain to the folks at Dior Kids that the beauty was in the irregularities and imperfections that the Tye & dye produced – which they were unable to understand until they came and saw how it is done! The other challenge for me was to ensure the quality standards required were maintained and that every piece had some level of similarity to the other!

Our artisans still need to understand the high standards required by luxury brands and clients worldwide. This was a learning experience for everyone involved!

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Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

The most recent collection in the jewelry line is the “Art Deco Meets Beygum” collection. This collection reflects the exuberance and decorative finishes of the early 20 th century art style popularly known as Art Deco combined with the queenly grace of rich textures of gold and silver threads, wires, and beads to create one- of-a- kind stunning necklaces and earrings that are wearable artworks! An art form that was primarily seen in architecture and interiors has been used to create a lavish piece of jewelry that is reminiscent of royalty with the use of traditional zardosi embroidery and techniques that was a privilege that only the Mughal royalty enjoyed in India. The necklaces and earrings pay homage to the Royalty of Hollywood of the era: Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyck, and Claudette Colbert.

I will be showcasing this line and the previous Classic line of jewelry at the By Hand, From The Heart event. I will also be showing my fashion clothing lines – “Summer Reshams” – a line of silk blouses and “Chevrons and Kantha” – a line of maxi dresses. Summer Reshams has been Inspired by India’s urban villages and nature and is made up of elegant resham (silk) blouses reflecting the colours of Indian summers and are embellished with the signature chevron hand embroidery.

The relaxed silhouettes are a take on traditional Indian menswear with subtle tone-on- tone chevron, zigzag lines of embroidery that are a metaphor for the timeless shifting sand dunes of the desert. The custom-dyed colours of the collection are drawn from nature’s palette.

The brand has always been guilty of chevron-fever and the madness over zigzags ontinues in the Chevrons and Kantha collection of minimalist free-flowing dresses that channel urban-boho chic.

The Chevron dates as far back as 1800 B.C. in Greek pottery. It is both a trendy and traditional pattern. To us at SR, its our signature motif and exists in our logo. It enhances each collection and provides the subtle accent that makes it special.

Kantha is an ancient form of folk embroidery from Bengal, India. The simple running stitch was used originally to make blankets or quilts using old saris and layering them.  In this collection of easy-fit dresses in cotton, linen and silk gauze, the chevrons and Kantha hand embroidery come together to add the perfect accent yet maintaining the minimalism of the look.

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Describe your work premises. 

I design from my home studio and make some of the prototypes by myself in the studio. My studio is filled with vintage and antique textiles and new fabrics – and almost all of them are natural fibres with some element of the ‘handmade’ aspect in them – either in the dyeing, printing or weaving. I collect antique bits and bobs related to jewelry and sewing and my sewing table is an antique one too. There are many books on fashion and art and history, fashion magazines and a lot of colour!!

One  entire wall has been painted deep purple to match the logo colour and it has a special texturing done on it by hand. I also have a coffee table to match in the same vibrant hue! The studio is a place where I can be myself surrounded by things I love which inspire me to create.

The final jewelry pieces are made by a group of artisans who work together in a small unit in north India outside of Delhi. The fashion line is also made from a small unit that I partner with.

What is a typical day at SR by Sonali Raman, like.

A typical workday at SR by Sonali Raman would begin with time devoted to answering emails from sources and clients alike, updating social media sites. Then onto the exciting part, which includes designing and prototyping – the creative part of the business.

A large part of the day is given to any design projects that I may be working on currently for other clients and meetings related to it. On some days I go into the university to teach a class and then it gets really busy with preparing for the class, and setting assignments and correcting them. I do love interacting with the young creative minds of my students as it refreshes my thinking and makes me come back to the studio with renewed energy to work on SR! The day ends pretty much the same way as it starts, emails and updating social media! Travel and participating in events is an intrinsic part of most days for the brand. So it’s quite a juggle!

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What is your favorite SR by Sonali Raman pick right now? And why?

 Right now – for me the Beygum collection of neckpieces and earrings are a top favourite – each of these pieces are so contemporary and yet reminiscent of the swinging twenties era, every piece makes a statement when worn and represents true luxury as its entirely hand-made and hand finished.

 What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

The best piece of advice – “take it slow and steady”… am not in a rush and I know eventually I will be able to reach a larger audience to tell my story and for people to appreciate and love the craft as much as I do will take its time.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?

The biggest lesson is that – not everyone really knows and understands the effort, energy and passion that goes into our traditional crafts and why there is a high price tag to the end products. The general premise is that if its Indian and hand-made – it should be cheap… the need to educate people has been an eye opener for me.

About Chennai.

Chennai or rather Madras as I still like to refer to it, has been a second home to me; the first being Calcutta where I was born. Madras took its time to accept me just as I did too and then it became the place where I discovered myself as a designer. The people and their culture and traditions are an inspiration to me and I do believe that it’s far ahead in these terms of all the other cities. The women of Chennai have a lovely sense of style marrying the traditional with the contemporary, which they do with such grace.

Sonali Raman of SR by Sonali Raman, Doha (Qatar), will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Suguna Rangaswami, Doll Maker, Chennai

Suguna Rangaswami is a doll maker based in Chennai. She enjoys handcrafting finger puppets, soft dolls and quilts. She shares with us in brief about her hobby turned home business.  By Hand From The Heart has had the priviledge of showcasing her limited editions of dolls and puppets at our makers market editions. 

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How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making & creating?

I make soft toys. I started to make dolls and puppets for children when I came to Chennai in 1980 from Kolkota. My brother was the one who encouraged me to make these toys. With his encouragement and my keen interest in the craft; I joined my friend Sarada and hosted a 4 day exhibition in 1981 at CP Arts Centre, Mylapore in Chennai (Madras).From then on, I have been making dolls and puppets.

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Why is making important to you? 

It keeps me busy and happy. I enjoy watching children play with these toys. The smiles in their faces gives me all the happiness.

 

What’s your most challenging work so far. 

My most challenging work was a recent project; Obama and Michelle dolls .

What’s the best piece of advice you’d like to give to anyone setting up a creative venture? 

Lots of patience, a passion to excel and never to compromise in the quality of your materials and the finishing of your products.

About Chennai

Chennai (Madras) is home. People here are very encouraging when it comes to arts in all forms – writing, acting, painting, etc.

About your experience at By Hand From The Heart.

I have showcased my works with By Hand From The Heart many a times over the last 3 years. It has been a enjoyable, encouraging platform to work  with.

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Meet The Maker: Divya Vigneshwaran, Hastha, Chennai

Divya Vigneshwaran designs  apparels and accessories at Hastha, her creative venture based in Chennai.  From Garment merchanding to stay at home mom and now a full on entrepreneur, lets find out more about Divya and her venture, HASTHA.  

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A bit about yourself.

A commerce graduate, I started my career as a garments merchandiser for Color Plus and subsequently moved to the export industry. I took a break from work when my son was born and loved being a “happy housewife” before I started Hastha.

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Why is designing important to you?
“Design is how it works”. Here’s a quote I completely relate to. I started Hastha because as a shopper I couldn’t find Tshirts that were aesthetically appealing or age appropriate.

What is inspiring you now?
The sights and sounds of life around me.

 

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What’s a typical day at Hastha?

Each day is a new learning experience so there is no typical day at Hastha. My workplace is bright , cheerful & vibrant and that energises me. At the block printing unit, work is very hands on & I go with the flow while mixing n matching blocks & colors.

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Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart

We will be featuring our new range of all over printed tshirts inspired by Chikankari embroidery & warli wall art. We’re also very excited to launch a range of colourful Hand Block printed umbrellas.

What’s the best thing about being a design entrepreneur?

Everything. That said, it’s fabulous to see your own design idea come alive as a product. Every entrepreneurial journey has its highs n lows but the experience is well worth the joyride.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

Advice no, but I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of suggestions come my way. For any entrepreneur, moments of self doubt are not rare so it’s very important to have an open mind & accept inputs from any resource you can learn from.

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What advice would you share to those who want to take on their hobby/ passion into a career?

Being passionate about what you do and staying true to your passion. In today’s market, it’s very easy to stray from what you originally set out to do and compromise because of the competition. Take those little steps and translate them into large strides confidently.

You have participated in an earlier edition of BHFTH; what was your BHFTH experience? 

By Hand From the Heart is a creative cauldron of talent and art. The shows are extremely well curated and offers a creative and inspiring environment for makers.

About Chennai

” Madras” like I would still prefer to call our city, has always been home.

 

Divya of Hastha, Chennai, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Schedule: Food Talks at By Hand From The Heart Makers Market

Food talks over tasting sessions, food pairing and cooking demonstrations by artisanal food producers, makers, farmers and entrepreneurs. This will be held on both the days at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition.

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
Market Hours: 10 a.m to 8 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

Limited Seats. Entry is free.

 

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You can book your seat online! Click the image or the link mentioned below

Link: http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2

 


1. The softer side of coffee
Speaker Sanjoy Gupta, Estate Craft, Bangalore


  • 5th August 2016
    11.30 a.m

Duration: 30 minutes (Talk: 15 minutes | Brewing & Tastings: 15 minutes )

Learn how to differentiate the taste between different types of coffee and coffee from different origins and how to appreciate the softer side of good coffee.

Book your free seat now! http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2


2. Implications of Bio Dynamic farming on the flavor profile of tea!
Speaker Suresh Nanjan, Teaneer


  • 5th August 2016
    1.00 p.m
    _________
  • 6th August 2016
    12.15 p.m

Duration: 30 minutes (Talk: 15 minutes | Brewing & Tastings: 15 minutes)

Teaneer takes you through the new farming concept of Bio Dynamic Farming and its implications on our favorite drink – Tea! You will get to taste different brews of the same tea leaves and you will be able to tell the difference!

Book your free seat now! http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2


3. Fine Chocolate Appreciation Session
Speaker L Nitin Chordia, Cocoatrait, Chennai


  • 5th August 2016
    2.00 p.m – 2:45 p.m
    _________
  • 6th August 2016
    3:35 p.m – 4:15 p.m


Duration: 45 minutes (Talk, tasting and pairing)

Cocoatrait takes you through a journey of chocolate making and the right way to appreciate fine chocolates! Once you have learnt that art of fine chocolate appreciation, you get to taste 6 fine chocolate bars handpicked by L Nitin Chordia,India’s only certified chocolate taster! Nitin has conducted this tasting session in the UK and Amsterdam.

Book your free seat now! http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2


4. The secrets of Making Jams in the Himalayas!
Speaker Rebecca Maria Vaz, Bhuira Jams, Himachal Pradesh


  • 5th August 2016
    3:00 p.m – 3:45 p.m
    _________
  • 6th August 2016
    2:45 p.m – 3:30 p.m

Duration: 45 minutes (Talk / Tastings & Pairings and Jam Making Demo)

Bhuira Jams takes you through the Bhuira jam making journey. Rebecca will make banana jam using the local MalaiValaipalam and Poovan variety in the authentic and delicious Bhuira way! A 1st attempt. We shall also demonstrate the alternate uses of Jams/Preserves and you get to taste them too!

Book your free seat now! http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2


5. What’s on your plate?
Speaker Jitendra Prasad, DOOR 2 DOOR Organics, Chennai


  • 5th August 2016
    5.30 p.m
    _________
  • 6th August 2016
    1:30 p.m

Duration: 30 minutes ( Talk: 15 minutes & Tastings: 15 minutes)

In this conversation, DOOR 2 DOOR Organics will help you re-discover and experience someforgotten herbs, vegetable and rice varieties.They will briefly discuss the kind of chemicals and pesticides used in our daily food and bust some myths about Organic Food. There would be tastings of 5 varieties of basil teas, some salads made out of organic veggies and a unique heirloom variety black rice desert.

Book your free seat now! http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2


6. Bees at work! Rediscovering Honey via tastings – Naturally!
Speaker: Sridhar Lakshmanan, Madhumeeta Honey (from Ecologin), Chennai


  • 6th August 2016
    11.00 a.m

Duration: 30 minutes (Talk: 15 minutes | Tastings: 15 minutes)

With recent revelations that “About 75% of vegetables, fruits and nuts are pollinated by bees”, it is imperative that we protect and preserve them and enjoy their honey without causing them and nature any harm. Madhumeeta Honey will demonstrate how honey is procured/collected without harming the bio- diversity and the bees themselves and made available without any processing. You will get to experience Raw, Mono Floral and Polyfloral honeys. You will also get to taste a unique and rare honey produced by dammer bees or stingless bees which are very small in size and produce very little quantity of honey!

Book your free seat now! http://goo.gl/forms/D96abV1rIzl7BXNe2


LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Rupashree Adam, Charming Miniatures, Chennai

Rupashree Adam is a food miniaturist based in Chennai. Charming Miniatures her creative venture happened because she is foodaholic with an innate passion for arts and crafts.  We chat up with the artist, to kind out more about her works & culinary dreams.

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Bit about you and your craft. 

I have just completed my graduation in Visual Fine Arts.  My passion and interests in miniatures began during a visit abroad 4 years ago when I happened to see a unique boutique outlet displaying various objects in virtually a micro mini size.

This fascinated me and somehow I felt I must do something creative and beautiful. What better than making big things micro mini. This was the start of my journey through “the small things world”.

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What’s the story behind this venture; do you have food background?

In my family I am fondly called a foodaholic. That’s why I chose food as my mini creation.
I researched for a while on different materials and their qualities and decided that polymer clay though costly gave the best results post shading and baking.

Success did not come immediately and I worked  extremely hard and eventually was able to create dishes that were so real under a magnifying glass that I knew I had the skills to go further.

I set up my own site called “Charming Miniatures” two years ago and put up some of my items but could not do this full time as I was preoccupied with my 4 year strenuous college curriculum. Now that it’s over I am spending a lot of time turning out new dishes including Japanese tempura and sushi which I love .

It takes a lot of concentration and deft moves to get the real look of each dish. Also the shading and baking can be a great test of completing a final product. I am happy I could pass through these stages and have the confidence to make more complex dishes.


Designing a miniature. Could you run us through the process?

– Moisten the clay.
– Sculpt (Depends on what your working on, for example, a dosai, you will need to roll it out into a circular shape.)
– Texturing can be done with a tooth brush, silver foil, tooth pick.
– Shading can be done using chalk pastels to give it a realistic effect.
– Since I use polymer clay, it needs to be packed according to the temperature mentioned on the clay package., in a bake/toaster oven.

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Your future plans.

Cooking and baking interest me a lot and I will be joining the culinary programme at Cordon Bleu Wellington from October this year to train in patisserie and cuisine. I shall be continuing my miniature work there and endeavour to convert into micro form as many of the complex cuisines that I am scheduled to learn at Cordon Bleu.

Ultimately I plan to put up my works for sale, make videos, and conduct workshops for those youngsters who have similar interests.The first part will happen soon while the workshops will have to wait till I complete my culinary course.

This is a kind of Art that has its own following and am sure will pleasantly surprise to see my display showcased at the By Hand From The Heart Makers Market.

Rupashree Adam’s works will be showcased at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Smriti Sain, Chiaroscuro, New Delhi

 

Meet Smriti Sain, the principal designer and founder of Chiaroscuro a leather design studio based in New Delhi. Her workshop made leather accessories are artisan crafted with pure leather; we chat up with Smrihi about her craft venture, leather products and the pure leather she works with. Here’s her story.

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A bit about yourself and Chiaroscuro

I am a leather accessory designer by profession and passion. A graduate from NIFT Delhi, I worked in the leather export industry for a few years before moving to Europe to pick up a masters at the Domus Academy in Milan. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with Coccinelle, a beautiful Italian brand of leather hand bags based in the sweet little town of Parma. But my love for India and the strong desire to build my own workshop and brand made me move back to India in 2010. I spent my time as consulting & lending my design abilities to various brands including Ritu Kumar, Woodland, Willis & Walker, Napapijri, All Saints, Topshop and Tommy Hilfiguer. Chiaroscuro was a work in progress all along. I put it together bit by bit. I struggled for long. To find the right concept. To create something that had meaning. And would bring real value. I saved money. Whatever I could. And then spent it little by little, building each element of the label one at a time. One machine at a time. One worker at a time. I fussed over each little detail. In fact we had a full year where me and my lead artisan maker just made bags. A whole load of bags. Without showing anyone or of course selling them. And then it was a matter of putting an end to incessant perfectionism and just opening our gates to the world! We started out officially quietly on my 30th birthday a little over a year ago. And as cliched as that sounds, there has been no looking back ever since. Chiaroscuro is not a brand. It is a workshop initiative where our effort is to make simple and classic styles in good quality leathers & craftsmanship that together create a product that will last and bring you happiness and joy without being unnecessarily expensive. We are committed to pure leather and its craft and its artisan makers.

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How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

We make beautiful things, bags in particular. Our motto/mission or so called punchline is just as simple as that – “We Make Beautiful Bags.” Our artist’s canvas is leather. Much like a canvas, so much is possible with this material, its all in the hands of the tanner, the finishing artist and then of course the artisan maker who crafts the final product from it. I personally have been in the leather industry for a little under 10 years now. It is pretty much the same for each member of our team of artisan makers – each started out straight out of school, in workshops in Kolkata, picking up the craft, honing their skills over years before moving to Delhi in search of more respect and returns for their crafting ability. We all identify with each other to a certain extent. All nomads from other places, moved to this metropolis in search of a purpose. Chiaroscuro gives us all a safe place to indulge in a craft that we love, create beautiful things that give us joy and allow us to see our creations being used by beautiful people. Its our safe haven.

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The leather you craft with is ethically sourced. Explain.

First thing to mention is that leather is a by product of the meat industry. Animals are not killed for leather. This is disallowed in India. Many countries internationally allow this and this is how you have leather from exotic skins – python, alligator, crocodile, ostrich, deer etc. But India does not. The leather we source comes from all over the country. We have the ability to produce really good quality leather in all our leather producing regions – Chennai, Kolkata, Agra-Kanpur and Jalandar. As a brand we do not ask any tannery to produce any leather for us. We upcycle leather. This means that we pick up stock lots from the tanneries and use them to produce our bags. Stock lots accumulate for various reasons. The industry perpetuates a need for perfectionism – pristine leather skins, all exactly the same. This is all in an effort to augment mass production – a thousand bags, each an EXACT REPLICA of the other. The Indian leather industry has been oriented to cater to the mass production needs of high street international brands that come to India to source a base product at rock bottom prices. What this means is that individuality is killed. Any leather skin that is slightly different from the rest, that stands out for any reason whatsoever is rejected. This creates a huge wastage of perfectly beautiful tanned material. We CHERISH such individuality. It lends a uniqueness to each of our bags. So when we say that no two of our bags are ever alike, we really mean it. Most of the leathers we use are tanned used vegetable tannins and dyed with vegetable colors. These are more caring toward the environment. Leather is a natural material. Biodegradable. It is not plastic. Non leather materials like PU, leatherette etc are just plastic coated fabrics that are extremely harmful to the environment. Furthermore, a good leather bag lasts for years and years. There is never a need for use and throw. You may get bored of your leather bag but it wont tear. This for us is complete end to end reduction of wastage.

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“Workshop made”. What is involved.

This is 2 fold. One – we stand firmly against contractual labor. What does this mean? Most large scale productions happen in sweatshops, yes there are many in India. Working conditions are appalling. Workers get no stability. Daily wages prevail. Worker welfare is a non existent concept. Why does this happen? Simple. To reduce costs. Again, this is all oriented this way to get “Made In India” to achieve a low priced base quality product. We stand firmly against this. India is about produce great creations. World wonders. We need to reclaim that image. Each of our products is only produced in our own workshop. No outsourced production. It might be slower but it is the right way. Two – our bags are not made in an assembly line. Each bag is made by one artisan from beginning to very end. I always give the example that the fact that you are an expert chopper of onions does not make you a great chef. Leather craft is an art. It must be preserved in its truest form. Only a truly talented and gifted artisan maker can do all the processes involved in make a leather bag – cutting the leather (this a art in itself), splitting the leather, pasting the panels, stitching, painting the edges, putting the finishing touches. Working this way is our way of keeping the craft alive. And of course it guarantees that we value highly skilled craftsmen. The quality of their workmanship speaks for itself. When you hold one of our bags in your hand, you know you are holding a beautifully crafted product.

Tell us about your artisan team.

We are at 6 senior artisan makers  right now. Apprentices come and go. It takes time for us to train workers to come to a certain level of crafting. Initially we attach them to one of our artisan makers as assistants but once we feel confident of their abilities, they start to work independently. The team is a mix. They are all in their later 20 or early 30s. Everyone has a strong character but we all blend well together. They all have an artistic demeanor. They look for appreciation for their work. Some take feedback more personally than others. One or two are quite the singers to the radio. One is a real clown – always making everyone laugh. All in all, its a great dynamic and we are constantly adding to our team as a growing label.  There is a sense of pride in their work. You see it in their eyes when they pose with their finished bags for photos for our website. They sign their names with such definite habit now (the bags go out with a signed note from the maker). Each feedback email or photo from a happy customer gives them quiet joy. You can see it in them. Its all very very wonderful.

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What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.

We are bringing our complete line of designs from the smallest minis, pouches, wallets, slings, shoulder bags, hobos and totes. It will be the prefect place to see all the styles in person and choose the right one on the basis of you carrying needs and body type. We will also be bringing along a lot of leather options to be able to mix and match the styles with the leather qualities and colors.

What/who inspires you?

Humility inspires us. The rusticity of this country inspires us. But mostly we are driven by utility and carrying needs.

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Describe your work premises & what is a typical day at Chiaroscuro, like.

Our studio is small and cozy. We have a few rooms but everything stays open. Nothing is ever closed away. Its all part of creating an open atmosphere of exchange and honest opinions. The workshop is the center of our being. Its all happening here. A typical day starts at 9.30 with the radio coming on and the boys entering in one by one and settling at their workstations to create. Sometimes you hear them arguing. Sometimes they are pulling each other’s legs. A lot of times we are humming or singing. Its chaotic and busy most days. The sun rises and sets and the buzzing continues on. Its an all encompassing bubble we create in. We spend so many hours together and so closely, dealing with each other. I think we all know and understand each other very well now. I know everyone’s family, their dramas and joys, their medical histories and some little dreams and goals. We have 2 chai breaks and I like making chai for everyone. Everyone eats lunch together. Its really like family.

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What is your favorite Chiaroscuro pick right now? And why?

Oh my, its like choosing my favorite child. Not possible. Each bag has come out of a certain carrying or styling need. We don’t unnecessarily add new designs every season. Its wasteful. When something works, then why shouldn’t it continue on? But the effort is to try and cover more carrying needs. Utility really guides the designs.

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What’s the best thing about being a craft design entrepreneur?

It feels likes work that brings real value. You are making something tangible. That will last for kingdom come. There is nothing impulsive about it. There are no short cuts. It slow and beautiful.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

I honestly feel like I haven’t gotten great advice! But I have to admit I’m not one of those that seeks advice. I also don’t welcome unsolicited advice! I’m one of those lets-jump-in-and-figure-it-out kind of people.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?

Patience. I have learnt some and still grapple to learn to have more. Building something real and long lasting takes time and forbearance, many sacrifices, a whole load of love, passion and hard work.

About Chennai.

My first job would ship me off to the factory and tannery in Chennai every season. I would spend up to 6 months each year in the city. But I was never able to really explore it out of the the industrial areas. I am looking forward to getting some time to get a sense of this beautiful metropolis which its rich culture of food, textiles and temples.

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Smriti Sain, Chiaroscuro, New Delhi, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

 

Meet The Maker: Mrinalini Cariapa, Flames Of The Forest, Bangalore

 

Today we feature, jewellery designer Mrinalini Cariapa of Flames Of The Forest, Bangalore in our ongoing Meet The Maker Series featuring the participants at our August 2016 Makers Market. Mrinalini talks about her creative venture and her passion for design, nature and jewellery. She shares her craft experience, current works and business tips.

 

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A bit about yourself and Flames Of The Forest.

Mrinalini Cariapa, founded Flames of the Forest, an exclusive collection of designer jewelry, in 2003. The passionate designer travels extensively to source rare semi-precious gems, – like Coral Fossil, Jaspers, Solar Quartz, Lodolite -and sets them in Sterling Silver, turning them into unique wearable jewelry. Occasionally, on her quests for these gems, she stumbles upon the odd raw Emerald, unpolished Aquamarine or streaked Turquoise, and handcrafts these rare stones into magnificent works of art. Her designs draw inspiration from nature, making them appealing to women of any age. These timeless creations are the perfect accessories to both, ethnic and western wear. Being highly qualified in the discipline of jewelry and semi-precious tones, this conscientious artisan takes special care that the stones she uses have not been dyed or treated with any unnatural process.

Mrinalini has designed and handcrafted jewelry throughout school and college, initially using materials like wooden and glass beads, before choosing to pursue her passion and gaining specialized knowledge on the subject.

Besides making jewelry, the young designer holds workshops – a great way for a layperson to get a hands-on experience designing and crafting jewelry. Handcrafting each other’s engagement rings has become an increasingly popular trend among urban couples today. This fun activity was conceptualized by Mrinalini, and is available upon request at her studio in Whitefield, Bangalore.In the last few years, her unusual designs have gained immense popularity.

 

How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

I go out looking for interesting stones, ones that are like God’s creations. I get inspiration from nature, for example, the colours of birds, insects and marine life. I started making jewelry as a hobby when I was a child. It was my way of making some pocket money. I later went on to study jewelry design and manufacture. I officially started Flames of the Forest in 2003.

Creating jewelry at Flames Of The Forest. What is involved?

Since my work has a lot to do with interesting semi-precious stones, I find choosing the stones to be the most important part. It is often difficult to find stones that match exactly as most often, the stones would be different shades of a colour or have different markings on it. We try to match them as much as possible, hence you will notice that sometimes, the stones could be of a slightly different size.

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What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.

We will be bringing a huge collection of earrings, rings, bracelets and ur new collection of cufflinks. All our jewellery is Sterling Silver (92.5%) with natural semi-precious stones. You will find a lot of interesting semi-precious stones in our collection, the newest ones being Meteorites, Trilobite Fossils (which are 250 million – 500 million years old), Ammolite, a lot of stones in their raw formation, etc.

Describe your work premises & what is a typical day at Flames Of The Forest, like.

A day in our office is a lot of fun! A typical day involves a lot of design work. Even though each person has their own work to do, be it accounting or checking on inventory or polishing, they all like to take breaks from their work to do some designing and try different combinations of stones to create a new piece. Even though that is also work, it’s more of a relaxing thing to do during the day as there is no stress in the design work.

What is your favorite Flames Of The Forest pick right now? And why?

I usually like the uncut and unpolished stones. Our next collection will have a lot more of these coming in. My favourite stone right now would have to be the Meteorite.

What’s the best thing about being a design entrepreneur?

Being able to think of an idea and actually see that idea being created.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

Have a steady foundation, slowly invest in the business and create less risk.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?

Networking is important for growth. Team spirit is also very important. Aim high and stay focused.

You have participated in an earlier edition of By Hand From The Heart what was the BHFTH experience and what have you observed.

Chennai is a great market. We’ve also noticed how By Hand From The Heart does a lot of marketing even when there is no edition coming up. This has helped bring a lot of awareness about the events and we know they have been working very hard towards hosting a great event and we wish them great success.

About Chennai.  

Chennai has a very arty taste and people enjoy the earthiness of my jewellery.

Jewellery designer, Mrinalini Cariapa, of Flames Of The Forest, Bangalore, will be at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Makers: Nitu Priya and Rajni Jajodia, Addoz, Bangalore

We chat up with the designers, Nitu Priya and Rajni Jajodia of Addoz, a textile and accessories design studio based in Bangalore. Nitu and Rajni, both Alumni of NIFT Delhi share with us their travel as a design brand that enjoys crafting, Indian at heart clothing and accessories that showcase India’s traditional art & craft roots with modern narratives.

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Tell us a bit about yourself

Addoz is founded by Nitu Priya and Rajni Jajodia. Both Alumni of NIFT Delhi, Batch of 2002. While designers at the bottom of their heart, each bring a different skill set to the table.

Nitu has 14 years of expertise in Product Development, Marketing and Merchandising and has worked with brands such as Armani, J.Crew, Timberland, Michael Kors to a name a few. So what made her move out of her comfortable corporate life? In her words “The urge to explore my creativity was unfulfilled.”

Rajni on the other hand had an established brand for 6 years and brings on board the skill to identify accurately the market and customers psyche. Also a home maker and mother of two, Rajni has to balance her day between responsibilities and her passion. How does she manage both? – “It has always been my dream to take my brand to a level, where everyone talks about it. The support of my family, only pushes me to achieve this dream”

How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

Addoz is what happens when creative freedom meets passionate love for traditional Indian textiles, when an eye for vibrant colours meets contemporary fashion sense and when the ambition to surge ahead meets the kindness of making a difference.

The “Add” of Addoz refers to Add-on: It could be Accessories to carry, Jewellery to highlight, Jackets to stylize, Or Dupattas & Sarees to drape. Something, that accentuates the personality called ‘you’.

The ‘Oz’ of Addoz refers to an ounce of freshness and newness, conceptualized to redefine your persona. So Addoz is the added layer of wearable art which brings out the new and fresh in you.

Addoz, founded in July 2015, is steadily pushing this concept into the market. The products we created since have got overwhelming response from both the Art & Culture community and from fashionistas who are daring enough to try something new. By Hand, From the Heart is another such platform we look forward to exhibit our thought work.

Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

Addoz’s core concept is bringing together different art forms and textiles of India. All the products reflect this element. The ‘Samsarga Collection’ which we plan to showcase at the By Hand, From the Heart is an amalgamation of rich textiles of Southern India and the Vibrant Colors of Rajasthan.

Think of the magical weaves of ‘Ikkat’, or the mystical hand-painted ‘Kalamkari’, blending with printing techniques like ‘Bagru’ or ‘Ajrakh’. You can look forward to this beautiful confluence in our product line. It’s a small effort from our side to showcase India’s diversity.

 

 

Can you describe your work place / space? 

Our boutique is a small setup in a, difficult to find, quiet corner of the bustling Indiranagar, Bangalore. The setup is welcoming for a walk-in, but we also use this space as our creative war room. Our sampling unit is more like a Jigsaw Puzzle, but a small courtyard of the boutique, helps us fit the pieces together. I (Nitu), create chaos and clutter along with designs, while Rajni is more organized and keeps de-cluttering to think clear. We both are opposite and hence compliment each other.

What is a typical day at ADDOZ like. 

Our day starts with both of us sitting together for some time and planning our day, prioritizing things. Our mood board sessions are super fun – Brainstorming and collaboration. We do allow ourselves to daydream and doodle as the best of ideas often come out from random daydreams. We stay away from computer as that is the most mundane part of our day, but since it is important, we force ourselves and we squeeze in like an hour to set processes and systems in place.

What/who inspires you? 

We draw inspiration from rich heritage art and culture of India. There is a huge potential that has not been exploited. Although our collections differ every season, we strive to take these art forms and make an aesthetically viable product which is modern yet connected to its roots.

Can you describe your creative process and what’s involved? 

It all starts with the mood board. We randomly throw ideas, sketches, concepts, and keywords till we formulate our story/collection. The next is the development of the story. This requires research – Reading, travelling, learning from artisans, procuring etc. Our concepts are then refined to viable designs. Scrapping some ideas and redoing is often the scenario in this stage if we do not like anything.

We then build samples and prototypes for our look books. If the look books do not meet our expectations, we revisit our design board. Allowing ourselves to accept these errors keeps things REAL.

What is the best thing about being a designer?

The freedom to create something you love and to think outside the box.

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What would you advise to someone thinking about selling their work?

Love what you do. Do it from your Heart, and it will evidently show when you exhibit. The selling part will come automatically. Your ideas could get imitated, but don’t worry. Be ahead, keep the next idea ready. Someone rightly said – if you want to be original be ready to be copied.

Nitu Priya and Rajni Jajodia of Addoz, Bangalore, will be at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Makers: Janapada Khadi, Melukote

Janapada Khadi is completely hand spun, hand woven, natural dyed , manually tailored , Khadi marked from the Central Khadi board and sold with negligible margin directly from the weavers. Let’s find out more about the khadi and the works at Janapada Seva Trust.

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A bit about the organisation.

Janapada Seva Trust is a voluntary organisation functioning in and around Melkote a mofussil town in Mandya District of Karnataka, India since 1960. Inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Sarvodaya philosophy the Trust has been striving to create a non-violent, egalitarian order of society. Its core area of work is welfare, education, rural industry, environment and agriculture.

Over the years the Trust has built a fine infrastructure for its activities. The accent of the Trust is on self-help and people’s involvement, the Trust seeks support not so much from the State as from people like you who care.

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How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

Janapada Khadi is completely hand spun, hand woven, natural dyed , manually tailored , Khadi marked from the Central Khadi board and sold with negligible margin directly from the weavers.

Please do visit our weaving unit ‘ Hosa Jeevana Dhari’ in Melukote , to see the whole non-violent process of fabric production.

The artisans you work; any special mentions?

Our family of weavers at Hosajeevana Dhaari

 

Tell us about your products and what makes them special.

A non violent, hand spun and hand woven khadi made in the Gandhian way

Describe your work premises & what is a typical day at work like.

We work from a farm which has a small built space for the weavers set in a huge expanse of green area. We specifically work from 10.00AM to 5.00PM so that the weavers get to spend their evenings doing others things that they want to. Every month we conduct workshops for the weavers to create an awareness of what they do and also how they can take care of their surrounding environment.

The challenges.
We are trying our best to give the weavers a high pay and trying to create an awareness amongst people about who is maximum benefitted from the khadi that they buy.

What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.
We are bringing you khadi that benefits weavers the most and all the love from the weavers of Melukote.

About Chennai
A place which would suit best for our products.
Janapada Seva Trust, Melukote will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Sulakshana Sarathy, Neferu, Mumbai

We catch up with maker and entrepreneur, Sulakshana Sarathy who recently started her creative venture, Neferu; a wire jewelry design studio based in Mumbai. A graduate from NIFT & a post grad from IIM, let’s find out more about Sulakshana and her jewelry venture…

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A bit about yourself and Neferu.
“Neferu” means beauty in Ancient Egyptian. I have always been fascinated by the culture of the Pharaohs- their rituals, customs and especially their art and jewellery. When I was searching for a name for my jewellery brand, an ancient egyptian name seemed apt as I create using the ancient art of wire-wrapping.

I have a background in Textile Design- passed out from NIFT in 2007. But I have been pretty far from art and design the past 8 years- pursuing an MBA from IIM Bangalore and then working in management jobs. I am self taught in the art of jewellery making, just beginning my foray, re-capturing the joy of creating with my hands. I believe that for any piece of jewellery to shine, it needs balance which can be achieved only through patience and passion.

How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?
I am currently exploring the world of wire wrapping- which is creating jewellery simply by twisting wires- no soldering or casting. All the pieces I create are unique and I craft each one by hand. One of the great things about wire wrapped jewellery is that it can be very lightweight (depending on the weight of the bead/ stone ire adds surprisingly little to the weight).

Art jewellery has always held a fascination for me. My jewellery box is always overflowing but ruthlessly organized with pieces ranging from Rs.10 to Rs. 5000. For years I have been taking apart earrings and putting them back together in more pleasing ways for myself and my friends. In 2015, I began to seriously consider jewellery hand crafting. Wire jewellery is a great place to start as it is low on equipment, skill and patience being the only pre-requisites. I hope to explore more aspects of jewellery crafting over the next few years.

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Creating a jewellery at Neferu. What is involved?
As with all art, inspiration is the key. For me in most cases the hero of a piece dictates what the design is going to be. This hero could be anything- a bead, a stone, some sea shell or wooden beads from a childhood experiment. I then work my way around this and incorporate the design around it. When creating on my own, I dont find the need to draw or conceptualize on paper. But introducing this rigour is going to be my next step- it will definitely be more efficient!

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What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.
I am bringing the first set of collections I am developing. The working names for the Collections are
Giselle- Light, Flirty, Contemporary
Naomi- Rustic, Ethnic, Bohemian
Arcadia- Ornate, Intricate, Statement

Describe your work premises & what is a typical day at Neferu, like.
Currently, Neferu is a part time enterprise. So I work out of my home where I have a small make-shift studio. In the near future, I am planning to convert one room in my home into a full fledged studio where I can create and explore. A typical day starts at 7 pm and goes on till 1 am. The work involves creation of new designs, photography and cataloguing. Since this is the start of the enterprise most of the work is around the product. I am sure within 6 months there will be a lot of adiministrative work filling my time.

What is your favorite Neferu pick right now? And why?
My favourite pick is the series of sea shell based earrings and pendants. I think that the bold shapes of the sea shells are beautifully accented by the delicate wire scrolls. Every time I look at these pieces I am transported to the beach- which is always a good thing!

What’s the best thing about being a craft design entrepreneur?
I’ll let you know when I become one full time!

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?
I waited a long time for something spectacular to happen to me. The best thing someone asked me is- was I so spectacular that something spectacular should happen to me? This made me take stock of my life and set out to become spectacular. Neferu is one of the things which came from this soul searching. For all the other things, lets catch up at the Maker’s Market!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?
Its early days yet. But I have realised that people are willing to listen and help if you have the courage to reach out.

Meet wire jewelry designer and craft entrepreneur, Sulakshana Sarathy of Neferu, Mumbai, at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition
Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook 

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Members of Porgai Artisans Association, Sittilingi

Dr.Lalitha Regi and a few member artisans share with us the story of Porgai Artisans Association, based in Tamil Nadu. Porgai  is a society of 60 lambadi women artisans . The Lambadis were a nomadic tribe originally from north western india,.somewhere in the present Gujarat /Rajastan border.They migrated down with the Mughal army and settled in Maharashtra , Karnataka, Andra Pradesh and Tamilnadu. ‘Sittilingi’ valley is the 2 nd southernmost settlement of Lambadi community in India. 

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Tell us a bit about the organisation.

Tribal health initiative was started in 1993 as a unique model for health. It acts as a facilitator for health of the tribals of sittilingi valley of dharmapuri district of tamil nadu. Discovering the dying, age old tradition of Lambadi embroidery in 2 villages in the valley, gave way to the birth of porgai,which revived the traditional craft along with empowering the Lambadi women.

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Porgai artisans association is a society of 60 lambadi women artisans. ‘Porgai’ mean ‘pride’ in lambadi dialect. The word emphasises the true worth of the craft of intricate embroidery, carried through the generations in the tribe.

The Lambadis were a nomadic tribe originally from north western india,.somewhere in the present Gujarat /Rajastan border.They migrated down with the mughal army and settled in Maharashtra , Karnataka, Andra Pradesh and Tamilnadu. ‘Sittilingi’ valley is the 2 nd southernmost settlement of Lambadi community in the country. The ancestors of the artisans settled here and started doing agriculture. Over the years, women stopped wearing the traditional dress with its exquisite embroidery-, with that the craft also died down.In 2006,with the facilitation of tribal health initiative, Neela and gammi, two women who had learnt the craft in their childhood but were not practicing it,trained few other younger women and revived the craft.That was the beginning of Porgai.

The work at Porgai, share with us. 

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Dr. Lalitha Regi

According to Dr.Lalitha Regi who had been with Porgai since its birth in 2006-‘By giving you our products we are sharing our pride with you. We take pride in the fact that we are preserving the mesmeric magic of Lambadi embroidery forever on fabric.We take pride in the fact that the artisan is central to porgai and the most important link in the production process.In porgai, the artisan is respected greatly and gets fair wages. We make sure that she is not left out and forgotten in the race to survive in the market.

We take pride in the truth that we value human effort over repetitive machine embroidery, which is much faster but lacks soul.We take pride in the fact that we add dignity to many Lambadi households –by providing alternate income source in the village itself and prevent migration.

What have been your challenges?

Neela, who had been instrumental in reviving the languishing craft,says that finding a market which appreciates the craft and the fairness which is our strength is still a challenge. We need to widen our market so that all the artisans have round the year work.

What changes have Porgai made to your life?

 

Ramani, (one of the young and talented artisans of the society) says that the happiness she gets after seeing her own creation is very sastisfying.She says that porgai has made her economically independent. She is able to get a regular income from this, which she can use for children’s education,health care expenses and the needs which she thinks is important for the household.

Describe your work place.

Ramani, “We all work from home. When we need to do some samples, or have a training or workshop,then we go to the craft centre .The process before and after embroidery are being done at the centre..

 

Tell us about about Porgai’s showcase at the By Hand From The Heart exhibition in Chennai.

A new range of products made with millets (which are an integral part of the farming and food of the valley ) as motifs.This include; Stoles, Dupettas, Sarees, Wall hanging. We also have set of bed spread,cushion cover and pillowcover. Colourful jewellery, which is a replica of traditional Lambadi jewellery made with fabric beads,wooden beads and thread instead of silver. Cushion covers and wall hanging with traditional motifs. Garments in cotton,organic cotton and silk with embroidery.

 

About Chennai

Chennai has been are our best market so far.People of Chennai have appreciated the craft and our products. We look forward to selling in Chennai and enjoy the encouragement and support we get here. We are grateful to the loyal customers here, who are willing to visualise the human hands, minds and the creativity behind the embroidery and respect the time and effort the artisans took in creating each piece.

 

Porgai will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Riddhi Desai, Tiny Farm, Bangalore

Let’s meet Riddhi Desai today on our Meet The Makers Series! Riddhi is a full time designer, illustrator and founder of Tinyfarm, a design studio based in Bangalore. We catch up with Riddhi about her design influences and why Chennai is currently her biggest inspiration. She also shares in brief, Tiny Farms’s collection that will be showcased at By Hand From The Heart Makers Market here in Chennai. 

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How would you describe your design aesthetics?

I like to go with the flow and not restrict myself to styles. This year the biggest inspiration for my work has been the Chennai city; as I moved to Bangalore just last year from Chennai. The collection is bold, minimal and modern with an indian touch to it.

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How do your artworks come to be? What’s involved? 

Stories are always the inspiration behind Tinyfarm Collections, whether its floral theme which was inspired by the meaning of each flower; or the Chennai series illustrations. There is always a story to tell like the Women of Chennai.

Tell us about Tiny Farm’s showcase at By Hand From The Heart Makers Market.

There are more new exciting products like Notebooks, Notecards, Fridge Magnets, Calendars, Art Prints, Framed Art, etc at the show. The Collections will also feature more art from floral and Chennai series.

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You have participated in an earlier edition of By Hand From The Heart , please share your experience?

This will be my second time with By Hand From The Heart . I had a great experience last time and happy to come back for this edition. I met many customers who keep coming back for By Hand From The Heart exhibits. It was great to interact with them and a learning experience as well. It’s always a joy to find people who love what you love doing the most.

Riddhi Desai, Designer, Illustrator and Founder of Tinyfarm, Bangalore, will be at the

By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook 

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Usha Prajapati, Samoolam, Gaya

 

Samoolam is a story of dedicated craftsmanship, entrerpreneurial zeal and conscious innovation. Samoolam is a craft story that best narrates modern India with its deep rural roots. Here’s a quick chat with Usha Prajapati Founder & Design Head at Samoolam. 

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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting Samoolam?

Samoolam is not just an organization it’s a message to the youth of our country that “a hundred miles start with a small step”. And we all owe certain responsibility to pay back to our place and community where we belong.  A small organization started in 2009 with a small seed resource of Rs 3000/- and 3 women is now able to touch life of more than 120 women.

“To me profession is not about just earning money it’s about doing meaningful work that helps people in need and build a respectful life for all.”

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

“ Believe in yourself, Take risk and Start Small”

“If your team is happy and the process of making of products is happy then results will ultimately be happy.”

“Invest in people who are not privileged, give them skill with patience and they become the strongest pillars of your organization”

What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.

Hand Crochet Fashion Jewelry, Scarves, Stoles, Stationery, Bags and kids collection

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What’s your big dream for Samoolam?

To bring Samoolam on Global market platform and become a leading high quality crochet accessories specialized organization in India.

You have been on BHFTH in an earlier edition; please share your experience. 

Samoolam participated in BHFTH in 2015. We had fantastic response on both the days. Everyone loved the products and we got further market linkages at Chennai.

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Samoolam will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Visit an earlier article of Usha with BHFTH.

Meet The Maker: Aruna Deepak, Anika Terracotta Jewelry, Hyderabad

Aruna Deepak began to design jewellery for herself and gradually began to design for friends & family. All the positive feedback encouraged her to set up Anika Terracotta Jewelry; her very own jewelry design studio in Hyderabad. We talk to her about her home based creative venture, plans and dreams for her terracotta jewellery brand.

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A bit about Anika
Anika terracotta jewelry is a slow design studio based in Hyderabad. Our purpose is to create affordable and premium quality.jewelry that is light weight and design-wise timeless. Each piece of  jewellery is meticulously crafted with the right blend of both the traditional and modern in balance.

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How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?
I understand the personal bond that women have towards ornaments. I trust my instincts to craft aesthetically the best terracotta designs that can accentuate one’s inner self. Initially I starting with simple sets for myself, friends and family and I gradually moved my passion into a business when the demand increased. “Anika” as a business was started in 2012.

Why is making important to you?
Terracotta jewelry always fascinated me. When I started looking at the options available, I was drawn towards it; so much that I was inspired to craft my own terracotta jewelry designs. Initially I tried out designs with modelling clay and gradually progressed to making my terracotta jewelry with the finest river bed clay.

What was the first thing you remember making?
Simple jewelry for myself.

What’s your most challenging work so far.
Most challenging work so far was making a unique Oddiyanam (an ornamental hip belt) for a dancer.

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Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart

My recent works include silver finish terracotta jewellery, party wear terracotta jewellery and also temple jewellery inspired collection. My design style is minimal, clean and elegant. Minimalistic in details; geometric forms; contrasting elements, like color texture and finishing; asymmetry because I love something a little unexpected. And above all, elegance is the primary design principle. My work is usually substantial in look and feel. That is not to say heavy or chunky. I will showcase at the exhibition a collection of daily wear bracelets, necklace sets, premium collections and much more.

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What/who inspires you?

Designs need to have a definite language. I believe in reinventing the past along with creating something new. I make jewellery to suit not just Indian garments but also Western outfits. Most of my inspiration comes from nature where we see mostly bright colors that are lively and have a beautiful lustre that sparkle and leave a twinkle in the eye.

Can you describe your creative process and what is the most rewarding part of the creative process for you?
I’m happy by the number of people who are becoming increasingly fascinated by my designs  Anika’s contemporary,traditional and trendy designs are attracting customers from all walks of life, all ages and from across the globe.

How do you get around creative blocks?
Sometimes the best way to get out of a creative blocks is to do something totally different. I try a different artistic endeavor. I paint. Or I’ll make a purely fun piece of jewelry for myself; the focus would be to play around and not ‘work’; this helps.

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Describe your work place / space?
There is a buzz in the air; our work space is often playfully unorthodox, and people are energetic and engaged. When you walk into my workplace – you can sense it . The creative atmosphere gives us the freedom to run in multiple directions, often at once.

What’s the best thing about being a designer?
When people react to my works I feel I’m stepping towards my goal of becoming a successful designer.

What advice would you share to those who want to take on their hobby/ passion into a career?
If you want to start your own company, first; have a plan. Half of your job is creative problem solving. The other half is managing your business, production, marketing, development. So not only do you need to be creative in your designs for them to stand out, you need to incorporate business aspects, or delegate them. Be persistent, be open, create relationships and dream big.

You have participated in an earlier edition of By Hand From The Heart what was the BHFTH experience and what have you observed.

Yes Anika had participated in February 2014 edition of BHFTH. The exhibition brought in discerning customers. We had a great experience. Most customers loved our designs and bought for themselves and as gifts. It was an overwhelming experience to have been part of the BHFTH show and I will always cherish it.

What advice would you give other to artists & makers to explore Chennai?
Don’t miss a chance to exhibit your products in Chennai. Chennaites appreciate and support art and artisans always.

Aruna Deepak of Anika Terracotta Jewelry, Hyderabad will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Vidya Nag, Aardra, Bangalore

An engineer and independent artist, Vidya Nag weaves sturdy and aesthetically brilliant home decor and accessories with upcycled newspaper from her home studio in Bangalore. We catch up with Vidya Nag about her craft venture, Aardra and we find out more about her hobby turned business venture and her plans for Aardra.

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A bit about yourself.
A native of Bangalore, I completed my engineering degree and worked for a number of startups and corporates. That was before art took over, full-time. In my first public foray as an artist, I presented a series of paintings, which were transcreations of temple architecture and monuments. I wanted to celebrate the splendour of Hoysala sculptures by recreating them through the medium of paint. 

I discovered paper weaving purely by chance. Ever since I’ve been completely captivated by the potential of the craft, the surprising strength of the product and the pleasure it brings. I began to upcycle newspapers to create handwoven products in 2014. My plan is to introduce Aardra, which is the Sanskrit word for new, into everyday things, gifting ideas and as conversation starters using upcycled newspaper.

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What was the first thing you remember making?
It was a clumsy-looking bowl to keep on the dining table.

Why is making important to you?
As an artist, I’ve always loved working with my hands. It’s extremely gratifying to see the results of my work and I’m sure others who create handmade products, share this feeling. This feeling is what pushes me on to keep making!

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Developing a new product at Aardra. What’s involved?
Loads of excitement and sleepless nights. Before anything, I’ve got to put down drawings of how I want the product to look. Then the engineer in me kicks in and helps me work out the structure and shape. Sometimes, I colour first and do the weaving after. Or, I colour as the final step. At times, I just let it be and allow the natural look to stay. In any case, it’s only when this stage is reached successfully that I can get back to sleep… until the next idea strikes.

Describe a typical day at Aardra.
It’s a day that never ends. But that’s how I like it. 7.30 am sees me busy at work, accompanied by a cup of tea. Mornings are typically a feverish stretch of weaving and finishing that’s occasionally interrupted by the husband, the kids or kitchen duties. Once my co-creators arrive, there’s a constant, happy buzz with us discussing how and whereaardra could replace a wooden, rubber or plastic element in our everyday things. The urge to do more and more is infectious and keeps us going, all day.

Your work space.
A part of my home is what I happily call my studio but it actually extends to wherever I go. Although, occasionally, the living room does make space for guests and the dining table does serve dinner!

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Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

Our products cater to lifestyle, personal and interior decor needs. We plan to showcase a fair mix of them in each of these categories. Shoppers can expect to see a varied choice in handbags, clutches and shopping accessories. They’d also get to choose from a number of home and office decor items like jewellery cases, containers, trays, quirky fruit baskets and more.  

What’s your favourite Aardra pick?
That’s difficult. I pick a different favourite, every time!

What’s the best thing about being a craft entrepreneur?
The path to financial satisfaction is long and comes with plenty of sharp curves and blind turns. But I believe it’s best to keep going – because the satisfaction in creating something you’re proud of and being able to extend that to everybody else, makes the journey worthwhile.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?
I thought it’d be enough to create one blockbuster product and that would do all the selling. I was so wrong. I now know that marketing my products to the right people in the right manner – is most important. Adopting an environmentally responsible lifestyle and respect for handmade products is a matter of choice and people need to be educated about making choices that matter.

Your advice for aspiring design and craft entrepreneurs?
Whatever you create, be the first one to use it.

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About Chennai

My fondest memories have been about summer holidays with cousins, hot, sandy beaches and shopping for gorgeous temple jewellery in Mylapore. I’m thrilled to be back for a new adventure in the city.

Crafter Vidya Nag of Aardra from Bangalore will be at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Urban Farmer: Imteyaz Ali, Grow Green, Chennai

We catch up with garden enthusiast, Imteyaz Ali, Grow Green in Chennai, today on our Meet The Maker Series. He shares his experiences, gardening challenges and more…

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A bit about yourself.

I am a nature lover and truly believe that our primary influence as an individual is to seek ways to improve the society and protect the quality of the natural environment, resources and eco-system.

GrowGreen is an initiative towards encouraging individuals to improve their lifestyle and health by growing their own food – it gives the experience and pleasure of eating fresh fruit and vegetables and at the same time makes you decide what kind of fertilizers and pesticides you may use or avoid for your food for a healthy and happy you and your family.

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What’s your most challenging work so far?

Chennai weather makes it difficult to grow some of the most exotic vegetables / fruits which we most commonly see growing outside India and that’s where I start experimenting my skills.

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What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart

GrowGreen has a wide range of heirloom exotic seeds, imported gardening supplies and other accessories.

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What advice would you share to those who want to take on their hobby/ passion into a career?

The best work is work that is fun!

You should explore the concept, do your market research and other planning. Dont forget to consider what your day-to- day work life would look like. If your idea keeps looking better the more light you shine on it, you should have a promising path ahead. You should do proper planning and research, since this relates to an activity you know well and enjoy.

If creating a business plan based on your hobby gets you to see that you can plan a business that you will enjoy and that will add to your quality of life, then starting with a hobby is a great idea.

You have participated in an earlier edition of By Hand From The Heart; what was the BHFTH experience?

BHFTH has always been an encouraging platform for creative people. It is an amazing conglomeration of skilled people who are making a difference to the society. It also gives an opportunity to share ideas and learn at the same time.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?

I always take feedback as a learning opportunity to improve myself. Learning is a never ending process and I take it as it comes.

Chennai. Your connect with this city.

Even though I am from Kolkata, Chennai has been my second home ever since I moved here. This city has amazing people, culture and food.

Meet The Artisan: Kshama Adka, Shmoozie’s Hand-Crafted Ice Cream, Chennai

Kshama Adka runs a Chennai based artisanal icecream business, Shmoozie’s Hand-Crafted Ice Cream. We chat up with Kshama to find out more about her food venture, her recipes and what it takes to pursue one’s dreams.

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A bit about yourself. Do you have a food background?

Born in Mangalore, brought up in Chennai, Studied in Goa and worked in Hyderabad, I have now moved back to the place i love the most. From being caught up in the cushiony corporate world and trying to catch the next bus, next meeting, next training, next job – setting up a small ice cream cafe is nothing short of a dream come true. I am a commerce student with an MBA degree from Goa Institute of Management. I have no food background except for the absolute love of it. The love for ice creams made me do a lot of research for more than a year. Once I understood the science behind it and knew that good quality ice cream could be made by hand at home, I discussed it with my folks and they loved the idea. That was all the motivation and support I required to drop everything, move home and start up my dream.

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Why handcrafted ice cream?  

Ice cream is more than just a dessert. It is magic. It is a celebration. Imagine making your own ice cream! you get to play around with flavours and create a lovely dessert out of it. Hand -crafted ice creams gives me the privilege of customising a flavour and creating everything from scratch. Most of what we get these days has a ton of colouring, essences and excess sugar. I prefer to keep it simple and give more importance to flavour. Most of the magic happens in that first bite of ice cream

The idea- while eating a scoop of Backyard Mint Refresher , you remember the freshness of the mint lemonade after school in the summers. The kadak garam chai on a rainy sunday evening. The comforting lull of your grandmother’s filter coffee as you sat on the swing.  Reliving memories

About the ingredients you work with. 

Based on what is freshly available for the season, I decide on a flavour and then go about on a list of combinations. With the final list , I start my trials and test with friends and family. The ingredients I use, are either naturally available or I try to make them by hand or source it locally. I avoid using artificial essences and colouring. The Butterscotch ice cream will NOT be a yellow colour.

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Making delicious ice cream. What’s involved? 

I read about local items that are available and produced in different parts of southern India. I try to source them and then begin testing with them. It’s a step by step scientific process. The mix has to be made, aged for hours for infusing flavours , churned and then  frozen. It takes about a day for the entire procedure.

Describe a typical day at Shmoozie’s.

Work is usually based on orders. I encourage people to come and taste the ice creams and pre- order their flavours for an event, occasion or if they just want to send a heartwarming gift to someone. I make a list of all the orders that I receive through call, whatsapp. Once the order is placed, with some happy music in the background, I start with the methodical process of creating a perfect tub of heaven . On other days I am curating , planning and testing my next recipe, menu, structuring, finding finances to run the show.

 

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Your work space.

A garage at home is now converted to a single kitchen work station. This opens up into a beautiful sit out.

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Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

Buttered Walnut Candy : Walnut lover’s delight.  Walnuts are butter roasted and candied with sugar. While they are a little warm they are put into freshly churned cold ice cream. This creates juicy and crunchy butter pockets in the ice cream .

Coffee cinnamon and roasted almond: Made from fresh brewed filter coffee and slight cinnamon to enhance the flavour. The roasted walnuts compliment the coffee and brings a balance to the otherwise strong flavour

Butterscotch Almond Brittle:  Homemade butterscotch sauce is swirled into fresh cream along with crunchy bits of Almond brittle that ensures a crackle in every spoonful

Backyard mint refresher: Fresh mint leaves with citrusy lemon. This one’s a keeper for the summers

Dark chocolate indulgence: Powerful source of antioxidants. Not too bitter not too sweet Dark chocolate with a slight coffee kick

Banoffee Pie Cream: The famous Banoffee pie now as an ice cream. Toffee cooked for 4 hours blend with banana and crunchy homemade digestives

Callebaut Belgian Chocolate: No surprises here. Good old milk chocolate ice cream

What’s your favourite Shmoozie’s pick?

Backyard mint refresher. Cool and refreshing, and full of zing.

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What’s the best thing about being a food entrepreneur?

Finding inspiration. You can’t settle for anything-  you have to be on your toes to innovate, keep brainstorming and coming up with new offerings. Not everyone knows what they want or if they like a particular flavour. Convincing them and opening them up to try new flavours and accepting ideas. Throwing together different things, and learning along the way based on how people love the flavours.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business? 

Be open to criticism. It’s impossible to please all palettes. But don’t stop trying.


Your advice for aspiring food artisans / food entrepreneurs?

Think wild and creative. Welcome  ideas, criticism and most importantly learning. I was a commerce grad but i had to try and understand a lot of chemistry while trying to learn the art of ice creaming.

About Chennai.

Growing up in Chennai – I love the sweltering heat, the fish aroma beach, bus rides , Idli for breakfast and everything typical about it. The heat may have been a reason for my extreme liking towards ice cream and lead me to taking up a career :). I left the city hoping to learn new culture and meet people from all parts of the world.  I am back here and it still has the same old goodness but so much excitement to try everything new. From the auto guy to a celebrity “Vanakam Sir” works wonders. Such is the humility of the place. Always Singara Chennai 🙂

Kshama Adka of Shmoozie’s Hand-Crafted Ice Cream, Chennai, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Madhumeeta Honey – EcoLogin, Chennai

Sridhar Lakshmanan, Santhosh Durairaj and the team at EcoLogin have been actively educating and promoting awareness about wild forest honey. Apart from their honey initiative Madhumeeta Honey, EcoLogin works with the tribals involved in their community based tourism projects and explore other value added products from the tribal communities. 

 

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A bit about the organisation  

EcoLogin Rural & Tribal Products and Services Pvt Ltd. – EcoLogin as the name suggests is an creator of interaction spaces between the culturally endowed tribal & rural communities and the urban elites, facilitating exchange of shard economic wealth and access to natural products & cultural wealth between the two communities.

In the services division, we offer off-beat experiential tourism services such as tours & stays in Rural & Tribal hinterland of South India. Our continuous endeavour in exploring such new places had resulted in identification of these indigenous products such as honey, which we source by working closely with the various hill tribal communities.

About the forest communities you work with.

We undertake continuous training activities for the tribals in sustainable harvesting of the honey. We are also in process in setting up an producer company for the tribals where they are the shareholders and members on the board. Apart from our honey initiative with the tribals we also are involved in community based tourism projects and exploring other value added products from the tribal communities, for which we are working on an Pan-India network.

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Forest to market. What’s involved  in the making of Madhumeeta Honey? 

Madhumeeta Honey being Raw & Forest Honey, is an seasonal natural product. By working closely with the honey harvesting experts who travel deep within the forests to  gather this delicacy. We at EcoLogin, retain the optimum level of moisture content in this honey to global standards and thus providing our customers with one of an such rare and delicious natural product.

How different is Madhumeeta Honey from the common supermarket and gourmet varieties? 

Madhumeeta honey is one of finest natural and forest honey collected from the pristine hills of Tamil Nadu. This honey is collected by following all the required fair trade practices and by closing working with the honey gathering tribal community for their betterment of living standards.

Forest Honey is collected from wild beehives often in rock faces by traditional groups of tribal honey foragers living in the forest lands. They travel deep within the forests and risk their lives by dangling on a 100-200 m cliff to collect the honey from the rock cliff hives.

Extraordinary medicinal benefits such as natural source of antibiotics and energy booster. The pollen found in natural honey is considered as one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods as it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans.

You have participated in an earlier edition of BHFTH what was the BHFTH experience.

We had a good time participating in last years edition of BTHFH.  We observed from the visitors, an high level of awareness about Forest honey & its benefits. Their trust in our company which works closely with the tribal community in-order to bring this natural wellness product, is an priceless experience for all the efforts our team puts in constantly.

 

EcoLogin will present ‘Madhumeeta’ – wild forest honey at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Farmer: Suresh Nanjan, Teaneer – Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms, Coonoor

An agripreuneur based in Coonoor, Suresh Nanjan of Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms talks about biodynamic farming and how he has put that in practice in cultivating tea from his farms. He talks about his brand Teaneer and the joy of being a farmer. 

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Suresh Nanjan (far right) and his team at Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms. 

 

A bit about yourself. Do you have a food background? 

I grew up amidst an always buzzing farming activity at our household and farms in our Village Pororai. Schooling use to be typically doing a 5 KM walk to and fro along the hectic schedule in farming help and games with friends whichever is fancy for that season, while making our own hockey sticks and sewing our own footballs. My academic life had its own set of interesting and at times intimidating ups and downs both in terms of my performance and financial health,typical of every farming family in India. With intermittent spikes in my aspirations as well as drifting along with life’s many small vices I managed to complete a post graduate degree in Computers and moved away from village to pursue my dream career as a software engineer at Bangalore.

Having been not exposed to many other things than agriculture and farming naturally my thought process started revolving only around that while my colleagues were all busy getting their visas to the US, though software code really excited me and the corporate world opened up my thought processes to truly global levels, however it could not get me hooked for long. Even before I consciously realised it I was halfway into agripreuneurship along with my sister and brother in making our flagship product Teaneer which was truly a garage/barn based startup.

My corporate experience helped me to hone my skills in marketing along with the relentless support from my brother and cofounder Prabhu who single handedly is managing all our farming operations and production facility. Today here I am narrating my journey and the great plans we have towards making Teaneer a world class brand in specialty teas.

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Bio dynamic tea and bio dynamic farming. Please explain.

Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition. Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy.” Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being produced. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.

Most biodynamic initiatives seek to embody triple bottom line approaches (ecological, social and economic sustainability), taking inspiration from Steiner‟s insights into social and economic life as well as agriculture. Community supported agriculture (CSA), for example, was pioneered by biodynamic farmers, and many biodynamic practitioners work in creative partnerships with other farms and with schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy and other organizations. Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.

We understand you follow the traditional moon calendars to optimize cultivation. Please explain.  

Biodynamic agriculture works from two poles – the cosmic and the earthly. Understanding and using the rhythms of the cosmos for sowing and planting in conjunction with the practice of soil fertility, makes organic farming truly work.

As mentioned by Peter Proctor, Renowned Biodynamic Practitioner. The Planting Calendar is about RHYTHMS – Cosmic solar & lunar/moon rhythms and Earth rhythms. It is an aid to our conscious and purposeful participation in these rhythms. These are rhythms that sustain all life on Earth. Biodynamic farmers strive to bring life back into the soil, so that the food produced from this living soil has increased life force/vitality/nutrition, enhancing the quality of human life.

This can be accomplished when the rhythms of our farming activities are aligned with the natural Cosmic and Earth rhythms. Human life, as well as animal and plant life, is strongly dependent on the rhythms of the Earth. As the Earth turns on its axis in the course of 24 hours, we have day and then night. As it travels in the course of 1 year around the sun we have the seasons – hot and cool.

Perhaps the most familiar is the rhythmic movement from New Moon to Full Moon that we witness each month This is only 1 of numerous lunar or moon rhythms that astronomy scientists have mapped and can accurately calculate. The biodynamic farmer works primarily with 6 different moon rhythms that recur every 27-29 days. The Planting Calendar indicates the important days for farming activities during these 6 different rhythmic cycles each month.

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Describe a typical day at Teaneer.

A day at Teaneer typically begins and ends with attending to the needs of our 4 legged co founders who are vital in providing us with the inputs for our farms, this team consists of a 4 Bargur breed cattle consisting of a bull and 3 heifers, a Kathiawari Pony , a couple of hen and cocks. Our days work to a large extent is determined by nature, if sunny and bright its the day we make our great handcrafted teas as busy as bees. If nature gets lazy and gets gloomy so do we, confined to our indoor tasks with lot many cups of teaneer literally “until the cows come home”.

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Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

Teaneer Shining Arrows White Tea
Teaneer Whole Leaf Green Tea
Teaneer Whole Leaf Yellow Tea
Teaneer Whole Leaf Oolong Tea
Teaneer Whole Leaf Black Tea
Teaneer Aged Teas

What’s your favourite Teaneer pick?

Teaneer Shining Arrows White Tea

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What’s the best thing about being a farm entrepreneur?

As espoused by the famous success coach Steven Covey, ” The concept behind the Law of the Farm is simple: As in farming, success in life comes from regular disciplined, daily effort. Jesus expressed this life principle in the Bible, when he told us that as we sow, so shall we reap. A farmer cannot expect to reap a bumper crop by being lazy for three months and then “cramming” to catch up. Similarly, the greatest successes in life are built slowly and deliberately through focused, consistent, high-quality efforts on a daily basis.” . Running a farming enterprise and making it successful gives you an immense sense of achievement by living this principle every single day.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business? 

Your dreams are your limits, dare to dream big however make sure to wake up soon enough and make it real.

Your advice for aspiring farmers and food entrepreneurs?

Farming and feeding are noble profession not everyone can do, and this could be the single reason why YOU should do it.

About Chennai.

Singara Chennai as I have known it since time immemorial been the land of hope where every street is host to tomorrows leaders and celebrities, its truly a land of dreamers, a land that doesnt deny you your fair chances to make it big irrespective of your caste , creed and status.

Suresh Nanjan of Teaneer – Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms, Coonoor, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Artisan: Rebecca Maria Vaz, Bhuira Jams, Himachal Pradesh

‘Made by Happy Mountain women’ is mentioned on each Bhuira product; to find out more about the story behind the label we catch up with Rebecaa Maria Vaz of Bhuira Jams, a jam making business founded by her mother in law, Linnet Mushran in Himachal Pradesh, 17 years ago.

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Linnet Mushran – Founder – Bhuira Jams (left) and Rebecca Maria Vaz (right)

 

As an food entrepreneur, tell us what Bhuira Jams is all about?

Today the general consumer movement is towards Real, Fresh, Natural and Traditional foods. Bhuira Jams is a community driven all women organisation and strives to bring the freshness of the fruit and the charm of the mountains to your breakfast table in the most natural way possible. For the past 17 years, Bhuira prides itself in being the premier choice of food connoisseurs, slow food followers, the expat community and the health concious audience for Superior Quality, Handmade, Preservative free Jams from Himachal Pradesh.

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About the maker and the village communities at Bhuira Jams. Farm to market. What’s involved  in the making of Bhuira Jams?

Linnet Mushran, 71, is Bhuira’s founder and owner and she likes to called herself “an accidental jam maker.”  Over the last 3 years I, Rebecca Mushran, Linnet’s daughter in law, have taken over the business to build a sustainable lively hood for the women at the factory and continue to make fabulous Jams. The jams are the pride of our all women workforce. It all started with the little apple orchard that Linnet bought to spend time away from the city. One year when the apples began to fall she made apple jelly just the way her mother did, in Sommerset, England. She called in a favour from a friend and placed them at a single store in Kasauli. The word soon spread like wildfire amongst Delhi’s little expat circle. She began to produce more varieties of jam and jellies based on the seasons with the help of a few women from the village. Bhuira Jams soon became a source of local pride besides providing employment to the girls and women of the village of Bhuira. The Jam factory has created a ripple effect as it touches the lives of most families in the village, from the women to their children’s futures. The small farmer who has one or two fruit trees can’t really box and sell his produce in the market. So they often walk up to the factory with their baskets to fetch a fair price for their produce. The women love the fact that the jam was named after their village and get a real kick out of hearing about how people buy Bhuira Tomato Chutney and the Kashmiri Mango Chutney to take back to their families in the US, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore etc. Significantly, people in different parts of the world now relate to this tiny little village because of its story in a bottle.

Describe a typical day at Bhuira Jams.Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

A crisp morning at Bhuira at 6000 feet begins with the ringing of a brass bell announcing the arrival of  the women. Some stepping off the local bus and some walking up hill for over an hour to get to work. Himachali women are tough and resilient and are always smiling. This is their trademark and we observe that their heart and soul is into making these jams and as a result making their village popular. Based on the season we have fruit arriving at our door step from local farmers as well as truck loads with selected fruits from the local mandi to grade, sort and process. Our entire process is handmade, right from the sorting, washing, cutting, making, bottelling, labelling and despatch. We write on our bottles ‘made by Happy Mountain women’ which is a true fact. Our outer carton cases will also identify the specific employees who have invested their efforts into ensuring that the product that ships out meets our product specifications. Sometimes they have the radio on or sing local tunes while processing the fruit. It is a truly delightful site to watch them make jams with so much passion, an attitude which is mostly infectious! The jams are made in small 2kg batches only and not on large tubs as you might imagine from a factory. We like to keep the handmade process as close to the way our mothers made jam at home back in the day. There is something so charming about opening a bottle of jam and having the burst of fruity flavour hit you as you dig in and scoop out chunks of fruit. Our women workforce loves our jams and we make it exactly the way we like to eat them.

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What’s your favourite pick with Bhuira Jams?

Rajgarh, often referred to as the Peach bowl of Asia, abounds in excellent stone-fruit (apricot, plum, peaches) as well as apples pears guavas, kiwis, lemons (highly aromatic ‘Gal-Gal’) and wild raspberries. Its strategic location allows Bhuira Jams to take full advantage of this freshness and profusion of local fruit. Apricot, Black Cherry, Plum and Apple Cinnamon Jelly would have to stand out as being product of the land and thats why they feature as my favourite. Since i was baking earlier, I know that the apricot, peach and strawberry is widely used as alternate to fresh fruits in delicious cakes and pastries too. L Nitin Chordia from Cocoatrait, introduced me to how curd (yoghurt) is consumed after each meal in the south Indian states. He mentioned that a lot of people mix a spoon of the black grape and black cherry preserves directly into a cup of yoghurt and a naturally delicious fruit yougurt is ready in a jiffy! I must confess that from then on, I have gotten to enjoy my Yoghurts too!

What’s the best thing about being a food entrepreneur? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

If you are passionate about food, it can take you on a marvellous journey.  I used to run a Bakery of my own ‘The Baking Tray’, in Mumbai for 5 years before i took over the family Jam business. With being a part of the food industry for the past 8 years  i have learned that you need to constantly monitor your product for consistency and Quality. Customers  today are very aware and particular about their preferences.  They choose BHUIRA JAMS for a reason and we respect that choice. While we are only always compared to imported jams, we believe that If you stay true to your product, your brand, your employees and your story, you have a future carved out for you.

Your advice for aspiring food artisans / food entrepreneurs?

When I began my first venture I knew that in order to stay ahead of the game, I needed to be Authentic, Consistent and of Top Quality and word would get around. An honest product will always find its market and quite easily reach the right consumer (with minimal effort). I truely believe this and it is the best advice i can give.

About Chennai.

We have been in the market in Delhi and Himachal for the past 17 years and finally the time is right to come down south as we increase our reach to selected outlets in Mumbai. It is so exciting for Bhuira Jams manufactured in the mountains in Himachal Pradesh, to make its journey all the way to your breakfast table in Chennai. Our collaboration with
L Nitin Chordia from Cocoatrait who curates handpicked gourmet products from across geographies and his persistence/insistence and energy that Bhuira should be enjoyed in the south of India have made this stretch possible and we would love to hear what Chennai thinks of our Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Chutney’s. Looking forward to seeing you at the ‘By Hand from The Heart’ 2016 : Maker’s Market”, where we will demonstrate making of a jam using a local variety of  fruit and presenting our range of products.

Bhuira Jams, Himachal Pradesh will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Minakshi Rathi, The Mojo Studio, Chennai

Minakshi Rathi, is the owner and accessory designer at The Mojo Studio in Chennai. Rathi is extremely passionate about her Rajasthan roots; and this is very evident in her vibrant and bold designs. Over the last 9 years she has been crafting with her team of skilled craftsman, fine box clutches, sling bags made from brocade, silk, leather and faux leather.  We catch up with  the designer to talk about her works, upcoming showcase and her business plans.

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A bit about yourself.

I am Minakshi Rathi, creative head at The Mojo Studio. An accessory designer and specializing in handcrafted clutches,bags and customized trousseau packaging.

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Why is making important to you?

With so many ideas and thoughts popping in the mind, getting inspired by everyday things, it is important to convert that into something tangible, and when you see it take form and shape that looks beautiful, it is very satisfying and encouraging to keep going at it.

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What is inspiring you now?

Colours, symmetric patterns and Indian contemporary has always inspired me. I try to put these together to create different styles. Watercolor flowers with hand embroidery and indian patterns are dominant in my collection at the moment.

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What’s a typical day at The Mojo Studio?

Everyday is a new day and we would hate it if we had a typical one.Like the ideas, our day also flows insync with our energy.Like any creative house, we have our good days and some very challenging ones where we try to work around ways to make a functional good looking product as close to as we imagine.

Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

Currently I am very excited about the fun pins that we have worked on. The clutches and bags have been split into two lines, one is our evergreen Indian embroidered and then there is the new collection which is young and a little bit of fun collection, with the watercolor flowers.

What’s the best thing about being a design entrepreneur?

There are two amazing things that happen to a design entrepreneur, the first,personal liberation-to see your idea converted into a product.The second, a happy customer gives creative satisfaction and encouraging to keep going.

What advice would you share to those who want to take on their hobby/ passion into a career?

Practice your hobby/passion everyday. Be disciplined and keep it a part of your everyday life. Keep doing what makes you happiest:)

About Chennai

I love the city, its challenging at times when you do what i do. The city has its own fashion pace. Also i think its more about personal style and comfort than so much fashion,which is good for designers making them create some customized new designs.

Designer Minakshi Rathi of The Mojo Studio, Chennai; will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Artisan: Sanjoy Gupta, Estate Craft, Bangalore

Sanjoy Gupta, Owner and coffee roaster at Estate Craft talks about his passion for coffee and his artisanal coffee business venture where he directly sources Single Estate Arabica coffee directly from selected estates in South India.

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Sanjoy Gupta, Estate Craft

As an entrepreneur, tell us what Estate Craft is all about?

Estate Craft is the shortest route from coffee estate to coffee cup. Coffee is a craft. From the skill of the farmer to the art of the roaster and finally expertise of the brewer.Estate Craft honours the maestros of coffee cultivation with coffee that carries the name of the very estate where it was grown. Our coffees are pure unblended Arabica Plantation A and higher grades. We roast in controlled small batches and will even produce a single pack with customer specification of roast level and fineness of grind. Estate Craft is the connection between coffee lover and coffee grower.

 

When and how did you decide to start Estate Craft

I decided to start Estate Craft in 2014 after observing the artisanal coffee cafes in cities like Bangkok and Seattle. As a coffee lover with close connections to the coffee growing community and experience in branding and marketing, I felt that I was in a good position to leverage what I knew and whom I knew to build a unique coffee business in India.

What has been the biggest challenge starting business so far, and what are you doing to solve it?

My biggest challenge is distribution. My coffee is not intended for supermarket shelves because it needs to get to the end customer with days of roasting. I therefore sell mostly online through my website. However a food product like coffee needs to be seen in the right sensory environment. Hence, I supplement the digital channel with physical channels such as specialist cafes and restaurants where Estate Craft is available on the menu to drink or for sale at deli counters as packs.

 

 

Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

At By Hand From The Heart, I will showcase my range of Single Estate Arabica coffees. I have three estates represented and described below.

  • Boikere Estate – North Coorg

Shade grown coffee from the natural rain forests of Coorg. This 100-year- old estate grows coffee the old way. Tasting notes: Complex and aromatic. A strong coffee with a hint of citrus.

  • Kusbour Estate – North Coorg

Like Boikere, this is also shade grown in the tropical rain forests of Coorg. Modern techniques blend with the tradition here. Tasting notes: Full bodied and mellow with notes of caramel and chocolate.

  • Marvahulla Estate – Nilgiris

Cultivated in very rough country surrounded by reserve forests. One of the few coffee estates high up in the Nilgiris, Winner of the Flavours of India award for best Arabica coffee, Stockholm, Sweden 2015. Tasting notes: Toffee and granite hints in a well-balanced aromatic cup.

What’s the best thing about being a food entrepreneur?

My payback from this business comes from customer feedback which has been uniformly positive. Recently, I took some of my coffee to very specialized cafes in Bangkok and was delighted with the response – very good to very clean are typical first reactions. As a result my Boikere coffee is now stocked by Artis Café in Bangkok. It is positioned just below Ethiopian Coffee in value and pricing and equal to Burundi and above Colombian and Brazilian coffee.

Sanjoy Gupta of Estate Craft will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Archana Avinash, Strings & Beads, Dubai

We catch up with crystal healer & jewelry designer Archana Avinash about her pop up at the Makers Market. After her recent relocation to Dubai; Archana talks about her core product line – healing bracelets and shares her advise on gems & crystals picks for shoppers in general and what it takes to sustain as a creative design entrepreneur. 

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Creating a healing bracelet. What is involved?

Precious and semi-precious stones are ancient talismans and are highly sacred and powerful. Stones directly amplify, and accelerate energy patterns, which combine their natural power with the strength of your desires to assist you in spiritual, emotional, physical and holistic healing.

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So, when I sit to create a bracelet, I usually meditate-the stones tell me exactly what I need to make them into. Its more to do with intuition and how I listen to them. Once the decision is made, the crystals are all cleansed with Salt water and then energized with Oudh/Frankincense. Then the bracelet/mala is made.

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Gems & Crystals for beginners: Your suggestions or recommendations to pick?

I often come across people who see me wearing crystals and are very drawn to them, but don’t know what to get for themselves. There truly are so many wonderful crystals available these days that it may be hard for a beginner to choose.  It is very important to go with your intuition and what feels right to you, but there are a few crystals that are kind of a foundation in terms of their effects on those who haven’t had a lot of experience with crystals. They are Clear Quartz, Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Citrine, and Black Tourmaline.

Clear Quartz stones also bring clarity of the mind, helping you to focus and become clear on your dreams and desires.

An Amethyst stone is a natural stress reliever that also encourages inner strength, brings wealth and invokes a strong business sense to its owner.

A Rose Quartz Stone is a gemstone of unconditional love that opens your heart to every type of love—love of yourself, love for your partner, love for your family, the love of everything on Earth. It carries gentle, soothing energies that help to calm your emotions and rejuvenate your emotional body.

Citrine Stone is one of the very few crystals that never needs to be cleansed. It does not hold any negative energy, dissipating and transmuting the energy. It enhances your clarity of mind, stimulating and activating the mind and thinking processes. Citrine gemstones are often referred to as “merchant stones,” because they are believed to help acquire prosperity.

Black Tourmaline carries a strong energy for protection against negative energy. It helps to clear, cleanse and unlock any energy blockages in your home and body. Black Tourmaline when worn or carried can help protect against negativity, evil eye and psychic attacks or energy vampires.

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What’s the most significant change you’ve felt in yourself as a designer after you became a crystal healer?

I must say I have become a lot more empathetic and also non-judgmental. As a healer, we learn to never judge people based on what they have done in the past. Its like a Healer’s Code of Ethics. The other thing that I am astounded with is how my own intuition and inner voice has become stronger. In working with crystals it has allowed me to open up more within myself and has allowed me to cultivate a strong sense of self and confidence, which I think is very important for a designer and an entrepreneur.

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What do you say to skeptics?

We do come across skeptics every now and then. But fortunately, for most Indians, we have been using Crystals forever in our life- whether it’s the “Navrathna ring” or the “corals” in the mangalsutra. And there is a reason why you wear it. If you believe in it, it works. If you don’t believe in it, it works but you don’t see it. But beyond everything, Crystals are beautiful.

They are so lovely in all that color and shapes. Many skeptics still pick up my jewelry and crystals simply because they are attracted to it & they find them irresistible. Either ways, I always tell the skeptics only one thing – Have an open mind and an open heart to experience some serious magic in your life .

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What is your favorite Strings & Beads pick right now? And why?

That will be our limited edition “Hamsa” Turkish bracelets. They are chic and classy at the same time. Perfect to be added alongside your other chunky bracelets. I also love the “Mindful Mom” bracelet, it’s a perfect bracelet for both pregnant women and women who have children. The bracelet helps you feel calm, present, connecting you with your divine feminine energy, intuition and the spirit of your child.

What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.

At this By Hand, S&B will have a pop up display where we will be having some very easy to buy bracelets and healing jewelry. Bracelets for Good health, Money, Protection etc will be on display. These are easy to purchase as they will tell you exactly and simply why you should wear it.

We will also be having some limited edition pieces of rare crystals alongside some special range for Men.

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You have moved to Dubai; what’s your new home studio like? 

It has been just over a month since I have moved to Dubai. Still settling down slowly with the house, so at the moment working out of my living room !

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

The best piece of advice I have gotten along the way is “Do what you love, and the rest will come”. It is so important to follow your heart. Only if you love and believe what you do- others will. And this is what I am doing for the last 5.5 years, Loving every minute of what I do and what I create.

What’s  the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?

The biggest lesson will be to “never make a decision solely based on financial gain”. Money is an important factor in all our lives. But I have learnt that you should never travel down a road just because there is a promising financial gain. You need to have a real passion for what you do and the decisions you make should be based on that.

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About Chennai. 

Chennai is home and will always be. I miss Chennai ever since I moved out of there 18 months ago. The emotional connect I have with this city will always remain the same way. I am a proud chennaiaite and will always be of the rich heritage it has and the strong cultural background the city has instilled in me.

Experience a pop up by Strings & Beads at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Priyanktha Iyengar, Proyog, Bangalore

Proyog is India’s answer to sustainable design and skin friendly yoga / sportswear. We talk to Priyanktha the Design Head who founded the venture along with Malika Baruah. Priyanktha talks about the inspiration behind  Proyog; its design, HYPERBREATH™ and future plans.

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Priyanktha Iyengar

As the design head, tell us a little about yourself and the core design team.

I have been in the fashion industry for over 15 years. I am passionate about form and drape and love experimenting with dyeing and fabric manipulation techniques. Malika (my co-founder) and I, form the core design team. We share a similar aesthetic and love working together.

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Malika Baruah

Why only yoga wear? Was it a conscious decision. 

Both of us practice yoga for a while now, and a couple of years ago when we went out to shop, we found it very challenging to find clothing options that were not synthetic sportswear. We also felt that if yoga comes from India, the onus of true yoga wear cannot be on the world. Hence, Proyog was born.

What is PROYOG’s USP?

Naturally breathable, Proyog is meant to liberate. To free the body so the mind can focus. It is the polar opposite of synthetic. Soft and stretchable, neither too tight nor too loose, Proyog moves along with the body as you breathe in and out of asanas. Designed with care, our clothes are perhaps the most comfortable you can ever find.

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The design in PROYOG – fabric, garment styles.

We return to the roots. We go back in history to draw inspiration from the fabrics, styles and principles of the early yogis.

Our materials are natural and sustainable. Our trademarked HYPERBREATH™ fabric is non-restrictive and designed in a way that the practitioner is barely aware of its presence. It draws from cotton and modal, two of nature’s most breathable fibers. A proprietary blend of fiber, yarn and fabric structure, HYPERBREATH™ offers all the airiness and comfort serious yoga practice deserves.

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How do you define the PROYOG aesthetic and consumer?

Proyog is a mix of tradition and contemporary design. It is a technical product that is natural at it’s heart. At Proyog we see design as a wholesome value, it includes the performance of the garments as much as the visual aesthetic.The consumer is a discerning person. Someone who values quality, usability and sustainability and of course a consumer that loves comfort.

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What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way when it comes to starting a sustainable design brand?

The biggest challenge as a sustainable design brand is in convincing people about the virtues of organic cotton and other sustainable fibers. However in our experience, the moment people try our clothes and feel the fabric on their skin they become converts.

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Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

We are really excited to be in Chennai with By Hand, From the Heart. Since we do not have a retail presence in Chennai, this is a great opportunity for the yoga community in Chennai to experience Proyog.

What’s next for PROYOG? 

Proyog aspires be a 1 stop shop for all your practice needs. We will be getting in to yoga mats and mat bags very soon.

At the Makers Market exhibition in Chennai this October, meet the maker!

By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – Festival Special – 19th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th October, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 19th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook|Instagram|Twitter |Blog

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Manreet Deol, Manifest Design Jewellery, Pondicherry – Pune

Manreet Deol designs handcrafted sculptural jewellery made in Brass & Aluminum from her studio, Manifest Design Jewellery, based in Pondicherry. Along with her brother, Samraat Deol, Manreet has successful taken forward the label in a short span of 3 years with its authentic contemporary designs using traditional metalsmithing craftsmanship in India. 

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A bit about team. Manifest Design Jewellery.

Manreet Deol – Manifest Design’s Co-founder and Creative Director,  is a product designer whose love for jewelry took hold in early childhood while she fashioned pieces out of seeds and recycled bits of wire for her friends! After an expansive career in New York and New Delhi, designing for several luxury tabletop companies, Manreet now lives and works in the charming French Colonial town of Pondicherry in south India. This collection is an extension of her personal Creative vision of creating designs that are natural, polished and democratic.

Samraat Deol – The brands Co-Founder and the business/ operational brains behind the efficient e-commerce experience the website offers. After working for over a decade with e-commerce/ tech giants such as Amazon and alesforce, the time was ripe to use his expertise for projects closer to home.

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How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

Established in the fall of 2013, Manifest Design is the dream project of siblings Manreet & Samraat Deol that has been many years in the making. They set out to create a company that would make authentic meaningful Design that was committed to revitalizing the traditional metalsmithing traditions of India through the creation of their contemporary Accessories.

This Artisnal collection is crafted all over India while the companies Design studio and e- commerce office are based in Pondicherry and Pune respectively.The company ships worldwide through its online store and just made its US retail debut in the fall of 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

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Creating a jewellery at Manifest Design. What is involved?

“Everyday Wearable Art’ is the guiding style mantra behind these gorgeous handmade ornaments whose inspirations are varied and eccentric – Gnarled corals, sensuous vines, bold rock sculptures, urban art all somehow influence a unique visual vocabulary that is at once familiar and also unexpected.

The indelible touch of the Sculptor and the metal-smith are intrinsic to the pieces and add an additional layer of intrigue and warmth that truly make the Manifest Design (MD) pieces unique. Following in the steps of the great Masters, each MD design begins as a clay sculpture that is then expertly cast in reclaimed brass and aluminum using the ancient metallurgy technique of Sand Casting.

It’s a time consuming process in which skilled craftsmen painstakingly create a new sand mold for each and every piece. Hot metal is hand poured in these and allowed to cool before the sand mold is broken apart to reveal the piece. These one of a kind objects are then individually sanded and polished to reveal the finished Jewel. This low impact manufacturing technique is ideal for these textural pieces as it captures the softness of the Jewelry while adding a beautiful delicate sandy texture. The uniqueness of the collection is further accentuated through the celebration of the little dents and nicks that are signs of an entirely handcrafted product.

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What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.

We’ll bring our top selling Siren and Totem collections in addition to our other pieces that include statement necklaces, cuffs and earrings.

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Describe your work premises & what is a typical day at Manifest Design Jewellery, like.

We work out of Pune and Pondicherry. Our design studio is based in Pondicherry and the main office and warehouse are in Pune.

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What is your favorite Manifest Design Jewellery pick right now? And why?

We love our Totem collection . It perfectly captures the spirit of our design language- timeless classics that are always on trend no matter where in the world you are and wearing a sari or a suite.

What’s the best thing about being a craft design entrepreneur?

The skill of the metalsmiths is what has always inspired us and we love bringing a new perspective to this craft with our artistic vision. This perfect marriage of craft and design adds a certain unique warmth to the pieces that our customers really resonate with.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

Always patiently learn and adapt and never compromise our creative vision.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?

We have learned to never underestimate our customers and what they might like. A bride recently bought one of our large Sirena brass necklaces to be a part of her wedding trousseau in addition to her gold jewelry.

Manifest Design Jewellery will be at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Preeti Raja, The Revival Project, Mumbai

Designer Preeti Raja of The Revival Project crafts clothing that are fashionable and desirable with Indian textiles. Based in Mumbai, the designer talks about her influences, inspirations and her plans for her creative business.

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A bit about yourself.

My childhood was spent as a tomboy learning to be a lady in the westernised environs of army cantonments in northern India. But summers were different. Summers were about visiting grandparents in a green fertile village overlooking the Nilgiri mountains in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu.

The memories of those summers are still vivid: grannyʟs whitewashed house, dung plated veradah, tiled roof, wearing cotton pavadas, making cold pressed coconut oil at home, delivering grandpaʟs five storied lunchbox in a nylon home woven psychedelic basket at the farm, threading jasmine flowers every evening, granny doing yoga as well as a thousand chores around the house, elegantly draped in her workday saree.

After a decade in financial services and banking, and another decade as a homemaker, I finally had the courage to do what seems like a dream, working with fabrics I love. Each piece of The Revival Project clothing is fashioned from traditional handwoven fabrics, whether a saree, dhoti, lungi or gamcha and displays its heritage and history in its fabric, color combination or border design. These fabrics survived rough use and were comfortably airy in the hottest summers. By reimagining them in modern and contemporary silhouttes, I hope to connect us to a different era and bring some of that comfort, elegance and simplicity back into our lives.

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How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?

I would like to believe that what I do makes our culture and heritage relevant.I have been working on this for a year and half now. I launched the brand 4 months ago, and the reponse has been overwhelmingly encouraging.

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Why is making important to you?

I believe what I am doing is unique. I want to make indian textiles fashionable and desirable. I am terribly small but I can see the impact if I and labels like mine succeed. If people bought handwoven indian textiles like they buy garments from international fashion stores, it would change the tide for handwoven fabrics. At the very least, we would not have to worry about our 1000 plus years of textile heritage going extinct.

What was the first thing you remember making?

The first usable handmade thing I made was a a full sleeved heavy duty woollen pullover at 17. With help and guidance from a dear aunt. I put it to very good use through quite a few winters in Jammu and Srinagar.

WhatĘźs your most challenging work so far.

The most challenging part of my work is to create a garment that shows its origins, retains its culture, (whether itʟs a saree or lungi or gamcha), and at the same time looks completely new, unexpected, interesting, fashionable as well as being wearable, practical and comfortable.

ʝThe ʝtraffic lightsʟ dress made from the yellow and red pallum-pallamum checked saree has an assymetrical hem turned up at the sides. Itʟs young, fun, casual and easy. And beautifully complements the traditional checks of the fabric.

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Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

I have been working with gamchas and lungis, the last month and a half. Traditionally male fabrics, I look forward to introducing these as fashion wear for women.

What/who inspires you?

My grandmothers have been my biggest inspirations. They did yoga as well as swam clothed in sarees. They wear sarees with such comfort and confidence, itʟs inspirational.

Can you describe your creative process and what is the most rewarding partof the creative process for you?

To see other people looking so good in what I have created. And most times, in completely different ways than I imagined. We designed this wrap dress that was made from a veshti. It looked good on me and on the mannequinn (we had a size 6 mannequin then) and so it went into production. Two of the first customers who bought it were chubby or as we say in India healthy, their curves filled the dress and it looked fabulous, better than we could ever have imagined.

Another customer bought our very elegant and lady like ʝplaying the angelʟ dress and teamed it with white sneakers, totally changing the vibe but it was beautiful that way too.

How do you get around creative blocks?

Design is very visual. One doesnʟt necessarily need an education to understand color or fit, itʟs all in what appeals to the eye. Sometimes, itʟs a friend who drops in or the masterji who is in charge of cutting but quite often it is the lowly label stitcher/ all-around errand boy who has the inspiration to crack the block.

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Describe your work place / space?

Space is such a luxury in Mumbai, I feel very lucky to have a small, yet beautiful studio in a quiet lane in the heart of South Mumbai.

WhatĘźs the best thing about being a designer?

You get to explore and create anything that you want. I am slowly getting braver and bolder, putting fabrics to unimagined uses.

What advice would you share to those who want to take on their hobby/passion into a career?

After a decade of working at a conventional job, I would like to tell them that when you do what you love doing, there are no Monday morning blues. It can be hard, difficult and unpredictable but it still never ceases to be fun.

About Chennai

Chennai is the only metro I know which has preserved its past, in its customs, tradition, dressing and language. I see more people wearing sarees and veshtis here than anywhere else. As many restaurants serving local food as other cuisines.

And most heartening, little kids speaking in English but just as fluently in the vernacular. My lasting memory of the city are itʟs people. Chennai may be a large metropolis but it feels like an overgrown village. Neighbours and colleagues were friends as well as their relatives and their friends and many of these friendships have endured a decade after separation.

Designer Preeti Raja of The Revival Project will showcase her collection at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Ranjita Bora, Ranjita Bora Ceramics, Pondicherry

Potter Ranjita Bora teaches and assists Ray Meeker at Golden Bridge Pottery,  located in the heart of Pondicherry. A trained chef, Ranjita pursued her passion for pottery and has make a mark for herself as an independent potter. Ranjita hand crafts high temperature stoneware and wood fired functional pottery. We catch up with Rajita about her pottery and her showcase at our Makers Market.

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A bit about yourself and what you do.
I started my career as a chef and worked for nearly 9 years in kitchens in Mumbai and England. Food has always been a major influence in my life, and it still remains so. A few years ago, I switched from being a chef to a potter. Or as I call it, from “making dishes to making dishes.”

Why is making important to you?
I’ve always liked working with my hands. Creating came naturally. And when I discovered clay, I guess it was a natural inclination towards a medium which can be shaped into forms, objects and functional pieces. I continue to create as it’s now my profession.

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What’s the most challenging or exciting project you’ve worked on.
I can’t single out one particular project, but it’s always exciting to learn or experiment with a new form, make sure it works the way it’s supposed to. It’s a challenge, but very satisfying if it turns out the way you envisioned it.

Where do you look for inspiration? And what is inspiring you now?
Everyday life, colours, patterns, textures – everything is inspiring. Even my workplace, for example. I am lucky to be surrounded by greenery where I work. A simple form like the fern finds its way into my pots – you’ll find it in some of my latest work. When I’m cycling to and fro the studio everyday, I watch and observe things – from patterns in a saree to different motifs and signs.

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Describe your work space and what’s it like?
I work at Golden Bridge pottery in the heart of Pondicherry and have my own space where I operate from. It’s open and surrounded by nature; I guess I’m lucky to call this my working space.

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What is a typical day at your studio like.
When I’m not teaching, I’m involved in various aspects of clay. My work, in the very literal sense is “by hand, from the heart”! I do everything – starting from making the clay, designing, throwing, trimming and glazing. The longest is the firing process in a wood kiln, where the clay goes up to temperatures of 1300 degree C and this process lasts up to 20 hours. I also have to market my own products, make sure some of my work is reaching out to handmade enthusiasts. So, I could be doing any one of these things on a typical day.

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Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart
I focus on functional work, and so my collection will have pottery you can use at your home, in your living spaces, serve your food in. Since I’ve been a chef, I also think a lot about what kind of dish can be used for what purpose. From serving dishes, to storage jars, to casseroles – I will have a whole range of products from my latest collection that I’ll be showcasing.

What’s the best thing about being a design entrepreneur?
Design is definitely an integral part of the process of creating. And as I mentioned I do give a lot of thought to what and how my products will and can be used.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?
I am still building my business – right now I’m still figuring out the basics. It’s more of trying to break even as an artist. But there have been a lot of important lessons along the way. It’s a learning journey, and I’m sure there’s a long way to go.

Your advice for aspiring craft entrepreneurs?
No advice, but just keep persevering and stay close to your passion. I think it’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing when you are going through a rough phase.

About Chennai.
I enjoy the city and I feel there’s a definite interest and appreciation in handmade. I’ve met some great people at the earlier editions of By Hand From the Heart and I am looking forward to this edition too.

Potter Ranjita Bora will showcase her handcrafted ceramics at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet the Artisan: Nitin Chordia, Cocoatrait, Chennai

We talk to India’s first and only certified chocolate taster, L Nitin Chordia  about how it all began, his adventures with cocoa and his sheer passion for taking Indian artisanal chocolates and cocoa to the global audience. And why he thinks it is important to support the artisanal chocolate makers in India. 

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A bit about yourself. Do you have a food background?

L Nitin Chordia is a M.Sc in Retail Management from the University of Surrey, UK and a Retail business consultant/sparring partner by profession and is now India’s 1st and only certified chocolate taster and a curator of the best chocolates from across the world. I have a very relevant Food & Grocery Retail background and have worked closely with Godrej Natures basket in helping them set up their business in Mumbai in 2008.

Why chocolates? Have you always been drawn to chocolates?

While setting up the entire merchandise at Godrej Natures basket during the launch, chocolates were an important category. I spent a lot of time researching chocolates from across the world (I am talking 2007!) and figured out the intriguing difference between fine chocolates, bean to bar chocolates and commercial chocolates. Something the larger world and even the fine food audience did not bother to understand. I got very curious and understood in detail the bean to bar making process. I was all of 27 at that point in time! I had no idea what was leading me to this knowledge and now (in the famous words of Steve Jobs) I am connecting the dots. I had no indication that a search for the finest food products would lead me to focus full-time on chocolates. Hence, I have had my fair share of exposure to chocolates from a very young age. Looking back, I think it was only natural that I did something about my passion and interest in fine chocolates!

About the beans and the chocolate makers you work with – Coming from a sensory background as a certified chocolate taster, I have an approach of working backwards. I work with most bean to bar makers across the country in various capacities/aspects. Flavour development, Recipe development, Sourcing of beans, Sourcing of equipment, distributing their product, promoting their products, educating the consumer to name a few. I work with beans from across the world and also distribute chocolates from reputed makers in India and overseas. Most chocolate makers are young and do not follow the old school thoughts but surely are worth their weight in salt. I work only with selected chocolatiers who know what they are doing and who want to make a sustainable difference.

Bean to bar. What’s involved?

The process of converting bean to bar has always been the way chocolates were made in large factories. With the invent of smaller sized equipments, this process is now being made possible by artisans in much smaller units with a lot lesser investment. This process involves, selecting the right cocoa beans, sorting/grading it, roasting it, taking off the shells, grinding pure cocoa (after de-shelling), conching it for flavour evolution, tempering and then moulding them into delicious chocolate bars!

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Describe a typical day at Cocoatrait.

A typical day involves tasting a piece of a new chocolate and providing feedback! These are the samples that I receive from various bean to bar makers who have been trying really hard to develop the finest chocolates with available ingredients. I provide them my feedback. Apart from this, a few educational conversations about how to taste chocolate and also a few presentation options are always researched. The aim is to present fine chocolates in the right forum and right manner to the deserving audience. Overall my son always wonders how much chocolate can i talk !?

Your work space

I work in the confines of cocoa and chocolates (both good and bad). We are in the process of setting up a chocolate making/appreciation school called Cocoashala and this will entail being surrounded by chocolates through the day. Apart from this, i represent 5 bean to bar chocolate brands in Tamilnadu and am always looking at appropriate channels to place them so that they reach the eight target audience. Further, I make the right bean to bar making equipment available to enthusiasts and regularly experiment with these equipments to get the best out of them.

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Your most interesting cocoa travels & experiences.

My 1st backpacking trip (which was to Belgium) was a very memorable one. I tasted many chocolates for the 1st time. A visit to Amsterdam for the worlds largest chocolate festival where Cocoatrait had hosted the India Pavillion with representation of various bean to bar makers and cocoa farmers from India. I have singled out these 2 events because these were game changers and the latter helped establish in the fine chocolates map of the world! The other that I can remember is a Europe trip with my wife. The pretext was a vacation but the hidden agenda was to get her an insight into the fine chocolate world. As a result of that interesting chocolate experience/trip, I now have my wife Poonam Chordia become my most severe critic and an accomplished chocolatier who experiments and pushes the boundary with flavours (not bean to bar though!)

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Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

I will showcase the latest collections of Mason & Co, Earthloaf, Bean Therapy, Pascati, Marou & Enchante. At the show, you will see a very broad spectrum of fine chocolates ranging from Single Origin, Organic, Vegan, Infused, Blended etc. This will be by far the most extensive, exhaustive and elaborate chocolate table you will have ever seen! I travel to almost all chocolate exhibitions across the world and I promise you that you will never be able to see the diversity in chocolates on one table that you will see at the Cocoatrait chocolate table.

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The world’s largest artisanal chocolate tasting table hosted by L Nitin Chordia, Cocoatrait at By Hand, From The Heart and in Chennai! Featuring the mentioned 8 chocolate artisans, whose collections we will on display; for you to taste, experience & shop.

What’s your favourite pick with Cocoatrait ?

Its difficult. We aim to showcase diversity in chocolates. This is a chance for people to taste a whole array of chocolates, understand terrior, flavours, harmony among the various ingredients and decide what they like and also what they don’t like! Personally, I like fruity notes in chocolates and I would recommend all the chocolates with a hint of fruit!

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What’s the best thing about being a food entrepreneur?

The energy that you get charged with when you connect with peers! The food community is one where you have the youngest minds at work/play (apart from IT perhaps) and this helps better ideas to flourish! In my case, I can live eating chocolates and I get to do what i like!

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

Give it your all. If you are scared of (and thinking twice before) investing all your savings into this business, you should not be doing it! You are looking at a safe haven and an FD in the bank would serve you better! The market is very large. Find the gap and ensure that you approach it severely positively. No job is small. Please respect the plumber for what he does and achieves. The watchman for his efforts and the sweeper for his time! All this comes from none other than my dad! While many may think I am already successful, I do not consider myself as an achiever until my dad pats me on my back and says that I have done a lot. AND that is not going to be easy to come by so soon! Hence I have miles to go!
Your advice for aspiring food artisans / food entrepreneurs? Do not ever believe, for even one moment, that a concept or product or idea that you have seen and liked is going to be liked by your customers! Understand the gap in the market. The gap cannot be a simple one. Your offering has to connect many dots and make it worthwhile to do this business! On the way, remember what Jack Ma once said, ‘When Selling to close friends and family, no matter how much you’re selling to them, they will always feel you’re earning their money, no matter how cheap you sell to them, they still wouldn’t appreciate it.’ Focus on your customer. They are the most important. He further said “There will always be people who do not care about your Costs, Time, Effort, they rather let other people cheat them, allowing others to earn, then supporting someone they know. Cause in their heart, they will always be thinking, ‘How much did he earn from me?’ instead of “How much did he SAVE/MAKE for me?” Ignore such people and focus on the customer’s needs!

About Chennai.

This is a magical city! Every one from outside of Chennai looks at it with a question mark (might be because of various factors) but to me, Chennai offers a perfect balance of everything!

Meet Nitin Chordia of Cocoatrait , Chennai at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Farmer: Santhosh and Vishnu, Ultimate Cococs, Pollachi

Santhosh and Vishnu Of Ultimate Cococs are farmers first. Their father Madhu Ramakrishnan of Santhosh Farms is a veteran in organic and natural farming. From farming to coir products, the brothers have developed a wide array of gardening solutions with coconut coir. 

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Santhosh & Vishnu 

A bit about you and the organization.

Coming from a agriculture background, we have been in touch with nature through our life. Our organization Ultimate Cocos was founded in 2008, with a vision to make coconut coir a viable product for a greener tomorrow.

Tell us about your products and what makes them special.

Our garden articles comes with a vision to create a plastic free growing medium for our life line (Plants & Trees). Our Coir products are not only eco-friendly but helps the plants to grow healthier, being Porous in nature air circulation o the roots of the plants are better when grown in Coir Pots, Basket Liners with Coco Peat as the rowing Medium. Also coco peat helps in conserving water as it retains more water for plants.

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Describe your farms and what’s it like?
Apart from our coir business, our farm “Santosh Farms” named after Mr.Santhosh by his father Mr.Madhu Ramakrishnan, a veteran in Organic (Natural) Farming. He has enthused many youngsters to turn to organic farming instead of chemical induced farming.

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You have participated in an earlier edition of By Hand From The Heart what was the experience?

It was a great experience for us to have been part of the earlier edition of BHFTH. We meet many organic & hand made product enthusiasts and artists in the previous edition. Also it was a great platform to showcase our eco-friendly products to a encouraging and a welcoming audience.

What’s the best thing about being a farm entrepreneur?
Credibility!

What advice would you give other to makers to explore Chennai?
Chennai is convergence of many ideas, people, culture & opportunity! A place for all entrepreneurs to showcase this talent & product!

Santhosh & Vishnu, Ultimate Cococs, Pollachi, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Farmer: Jitendra Prasad, Founder, Door 2 Door Organics, Chennai

Jitendra Prasad is the founder of Door 2 Door Organics, a dial-in delivery initiative, that provides a weekly farm box of organic vegetables and fruits to its subscibers in Chennai. A farmer himself, Jitendra and his team, independently operate a farm to table process from his organic farms at Red Hills and Tiruvallur.

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A bit about you and how did Door 2 Door Organics come to be?

Despite the fancy designations I held in the corporate world with organisations like HDFC, TATA AIG, DST, deep down I’ve always wanted to be a farmer… and thats what I am doing today. A fulfilling career as an organic farmer who ensures that there is no place for middlemen & their margins in my quest to reach out to my health conscious customers. Door 2 Door Organics (D2D) does exactly this; ensuring seamless organic farm produce delivered from farm to kitchen in the shortest possible time frame.

Farm Box. What’s involved? Could you run us through the process?

Our D2D farm box is peace of mind and health delivered at our members doorstep. Based on intense research we have perfected a model where we address three issues of every household.

1. Availability of good quality organic produce on a regular basis for every meal.
2. Wide variety of farm produce to appeal to every age group in the family.
3. By providing enough veggies for the week with interesting weekly recipes, we ensure that the home cook is well equipped to procure a different experience every day.

We have our Veggie Farm Box and Fruit Farm Box – Every veggie farm box has 14 regular vegetables and 8 weekly variety. So in total there are 22 different vegetables delivered every week. The weekly variety keeps changing every week and the schedule is available with the member always. Our Fruit Farm Box has 7 different seasonal fruits delivered every week. Our farm boxes comes in Small, Medium and Large Size and the members can choose based on the family size. We are now gearing up to launch our organic groceries and other organic produce from our farmer community.

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Describe a typical day at Door 2 Door Organics.

A typical day at D2D Organics runs like this…

4.00am – 7.00am :The produce from various organic farms and our own farm produce leaves to the central warehouse.
7.00am – 9.30am :The produce is sorted and packed in customer friendly boxes based on the delivery schedule for the day.
9.30 onwards: The delivery vehicles are split in to 3 routes every day and reach the customers door step. Each vehicle caters to a customised router and is planned in a manner that the farm box reached the customer as early as possible.

While the delivery are in full flow, in the backend we are…

1. Tracking the vehicles through our GPS tracking system with hourly updates from the delivery team.
2. SMS to the next day customers is sent out.
3. New customer enquires are handled and enrolled.
4. Planning with the farmers for the next day delivery requirement.
5. Final roll call on the targeted deliveries fro there day which currently ranges from 80 – 100 farm boxes per day.

In between all this, we manage 4 well deserved cups of organic basil drinks.
Apart from this daily routine, we have regular farm visits and farm inspection which is an ongoing periodic activity.

What are your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge without a doubt is to stick to our primary commitments:
1. Pitching the right expectation on organic produce in customers mind.
2. Fixed farm box price throughout the year.
3. At least one exotic veggies every week.
4. Ensuring timely delivery irrespective of what happens around us.(Incidentally we delivered on every day during the heavy rains & floods of November – December 2015)
5. Contingency planning to work around crop failures, unexpected climate change, etc.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

When we started the end – to – end D2D model, one strong thought that coming through from every quarter was to, “ Ensure win – win of both farmer  & customer with no undue advantage being given to any one of them.” We stand by this thought and it guides every activity of ours and ensurers the farmer – customer credibility connect.

You have participated in an earlier edition; what was your By Hand From The Heart experience?

Our participation in the earlier Artisans & Farmers Market edition of By Hand From The Heart was an eye opener. We definitely acquired a sizeable number of committed customers and managed to reach out to our correct target profile.

About Chennai. What advice would you give to other organic entrepreneurs, to explore Chennai?

My humble submission to all the existing and upcoming organic entrepreneurs is simple; The market is still new and the scope for business is massive. But, we need to build our business through credibility and  trust. Please ensure that you take every effort possible to trace the origins of the produce you want to deliver. Organic means ORGANIC…. NO COMPROMISE !!

Jitendra Prasad of Door 2 Door Organics, Chennai, will be at By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook

Instagram | Twitter | Blog

Meet The Maker: Rajesh Bajaj, Kairasi, Chennai

Rajesh Bajaj is a man of many hats; besides a furniture restoration business he is a full-fledged professional photographer and an enthusiastic organic farmer. We catch up with Rajesh on his upcoming showcase at the By Hand From The Heart Makers Market. Lets find out more about his furniture venture…

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What are you bringing to By Hand, From The Heart.

A mix of restored, repurposed furniture, lamps and clocks using a variety of materials and styles.

What type of wood do you prefer to use?

From the beginning of this venture we have made a commitment of either restoring  solid wood furniture or creating new pieces using only repurposed wood that otherwise would have ended up in junkyard. Part of our venture is communicating the resilience and durability of the wood we use –  not only is solid wood beautiful but also very hard (some pieces we have restored have outlived three generations of its owners).

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What would you most like to make that you haven’t made so far?

Art deco period furniture, furniture inspired by Dutch and Japanese culture  and to top it off … our favorite at the moment “steampunk”

What are some common issues you face when it comes to restoring furniture?

Getting people to understand the value of the furniture we sell. the difference between second-hand furniture and fully restored pieces. deficit in the appreciation and understanding of hand craftsmanship versus mass factory made furniture.

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Do you do anything else aside from woodwork?

Don’t get me started 🙂 Right now we are totally enthused with the setup and creation of our integrated farm in Veppancheri. Our farm practices natural farming where we watch nature do its magic with a little help from humans in partnership with plants, cows, hens and fish. We use no chemicals or any artificial substances in our farm – which is a mix of permaculture, Vedic farming, traditional local practices with an experimental mix of methods practiced  by other cultures like native Americans ( eg. “three sisters” method of growing corn, beans and melons together in “companionship farming.) we try to avoid monoculture type of farming, and in the coming years will showcase a farm that not only is self-sustaining but also one which is a celebration of the diversity of food that nature provides. A seed bank where we preserve  heirloom non GMO varieties and provide to other farms is also in the mix. Did you know that India produces only 5% of the ragi crop we used to grow in 1985-86? there is an urgent need for our culture to take a long hard look at the nutrition choices we have made.

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From photography, farming & carpentry. Tell us what’s your typical working day, like?

The diversity in these ventures keeps us creatively fresh since no two days are the same. The amount of learning we have to do is sometimes intimidating. If you can mix disorientation with exhilaration and find a name for that composite emotion, please let us know!

You have participated in an earlier edition of BHFTH what was the BHFTH experience?

Totally enjoyed it… met a lot of wonderful, creative, motivating people. Its nice to know that we are not the only crazy people in the universe.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?

Work on our marketing and networking skills.

Rajesh Bajaj of Kairasi, Chennai, will be at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition

Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 18th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook  | Instagram | Twitter | Blog