By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Charu Roopha Srikanth designs women’s apparel and accessories from scratch to finish at her home studio in Chennai. Her passion for all things Indian reflects in her works; lets find out why?
A bit about yourself and what you do.
14 schools, 3 countries and deep yearning for everything Indian (from sambhar vadas to kutchi dupattas and a lot more). I would like to think I am an aspiring designer who also got her engineering and management degree during her journey. My path towards becoming a designer has also seen me wearing the hats of an engineer and a project manager. However, colors, shapes and forms drew me closer than did rulers and graphs!
The objective of my creative pursuits has never been to design and create women’s apparel reflective of existing or upcoming trends. I have always strived to create vibrant and exclusive apparel after understanding individual preferences in terms of colors, textures and shapes. My exploits so far include conceptualization, design and creation of apparel, bags and jewelry.
Why is making important to you?
Having lived a nomadic life there have been times and places where in there were many gaps between the things I wanted and the things that were available. Instead of going on a prolonged hunt for ready-made things that catered to my tastes, I had become a frugal innovator who reused, repurposed and recycled every item to reflect my moods and cravings. The journey of my first ever saree to a curtain and then to a skirt and now to a bag can stand testimony to that.
The physical translation of that vague and blurry creative glimmer of a shape/form into a tangible piece of work has always been evidently gratuitous and satisfying.
How long does it take to make a collection?
I personally conceptualize, design, source fabric, tailor and finish each piece. My collection usually involves a limited number of exclusively designed apparel (usually 20-25 in number, spread across different styles and fabrics). The time taken depends on the number of individual pieces, their designs, the fabrics, the detailing and the finishing demanded by each piece, and is around 20-25 days.
Where do you look for inspiration and what is inspiring you now?
At the primordial level, a happy combination of colors, or striking patterns, regardless of culture or origin has always inspired me. Every place that I have visited has provided me with inspiration and ideas, right from the bustling and eclectic cloth markets of Vietnam, the classy vintage apparel studios of Budapest, the elegantly strange dress collection at Singapore to the utter Indian-ness of the markets between Delhi and Chennai.
Now, for someone who has always had an active imagination and the ability to construct clear mental descriptions of intricate detailing, the sheer availability of a varied range (Kashmiri, benarasi, kutchi, patola, chanderi, tusser, uppada, kota, kasavu, kanjeevaram, crochet, linens, denims, brocades, laces etc) is a visual treat and in turn a breeding ground for new ideas and combinations.
Describe your work space and what’s it like
Me, my machine and my musings!
A typical day at Colors & Mirrors.
There are two typical phases that I presently follow. One, days that involve creation and two, days that involve only ideation. The days involving creation usually has me addressing and incorporating preferences of buyers in my own style, and long iterative sessions with my sewing machine ending in updates to the design charts of existing or upcoming creations.
The days of ideation are fewer but extremely important. They involve open ended trips to places that can provide visual inspiration (old alleys, galleries, bazaars, wholesale marts, malls) and updating myself on creations of some of my favorite designers!
Tell us about your recent works and proposed showcase at By Hand, From the Heart
My recent work involves a lot of fabric mixing, pattern mixing, and color blocking. How often do we see apparel that has denims, kalamkaris and embroidery, hacobas, crochets and mirror work, bagrus, brocades and benarasi, and a lot more of such combinations?
For the maker’s market, my intention is to cover a broad audience and provide a variety of skirts and stoles. The collection will cover a range of fabrics (soft denims, cottons, silk), a range of patterns (kalamkaris, bagrus, ajrakhs, ikkats, checks, polka dots, vertical strips, floral spreads, quirky prints etc.) and a range of styles (Pencil skirts, full flare skirts, Handkerchief skirts, dhoti skirts etc.).
Through my collection I sincerely hope to address the need of those, who desire an Indian element in pieces of clothing they own!
What’s the best thing about being a design entrepreneur?
The word entrepreneur has always had a distant and unrelated appeal to me, as it is something a normal person doesn’t associate themselves with. The realization that people are willing to pay for my ideas, my effort and time has been both pleasant and scary. Pleasant because of the inherent appreciation involved in the act, and scary because of my need to exceed expectations.
The best thing about being a design entrepreneur(gulp) is the opportunity to work in a field that satisfies the inner creative me, while also providing products that are of perceived value to happy and delighted buyers.
What advice would you share to those who want to take on their passion into a career?
If in a typical day of yours, you find yourself pondering over your hobby/passion and if that part of the day is usually the most gratifying part, then no matter the success or failure of your leap into making it your career, you will never regret having made the effort.
Unless you risk it and take the leap you will never know how difficult and rewarding it is, all at once! The creative satisfaction you get, after the long days and sleepless nights you spend developing something new or improving something old is something you have to experience on your own!
Chennai, a beautiful city with – historical inclination towards refined arts, houses an audience that is increasingly well travelled and global in spirt. It definitely is set to become an emerging Centre for handmade products. Events conducted by – By Hand from the Heart, play a major role, in connecting the available options and the demand for it.
Designer Charu Roopha Srikanth of Colors & Mirrors, 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