By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
We catch up with Subhashini Raja of Baby’s Breath, a home based design venture that designs hand smocked and embroidered dresses for little ones. Subhashini shares with us her entrepreneurial journey, her recent works for our makers market and more. Here’s her story...
A bit about yourself.
I am Subhashini Raja and my brand name is ‘Baby’s Breath’. I design hand smocked and embroidered dresses which I sell out of from my home.
How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?
‘Babys Breath ‘ was born in 1995 out of a deep passion for smocking and embroidery . Although I am from a commerce and business administration background my heart was always in creating my product that would find a place in the niche segment . It started in a very small way where I only started making little jablas with small embroidery and new born frocks with smocking . I would show it to friends who came home I had a few exhibitions at home and invited friends and relatives. Soon I came to realize the exclusivity of my creations and the dearth of this kind of work in the market. These were pieces that were born out of immense passion and care . Now my Clients drop by home to pick up these lovely pieces of clothing for their precious ones.
Why is making important to you?
To start of I started smocking and embroidering myself . As the demand increased, smocking being a very time consuming form of embroidery , needed more hands . But I wanted to make a difference to someone’s life along the way and decided to find ladies who had actually retired from the convents from where they were trained by the nuns . That way I could empower them to work from home and at the same time save them the trouble of going to work everyday but still earn a living . Once I identified them they became like family . I would give them work and they would finish it and bring it back and take further work . This way I formed a very personal connect with my staff and we work as one family .
Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
I work predominantly on pure cottons and a bit of blends for more dressy wear . My recent addition has been smock on linens . It has received a very good response . I have also started making Indo-western frocks i.e., silk and Benarasi dresses with a little zardosi embroidery . These cater to wedding wear and are mostly custom made .
Describe your work premises & what is a typical working day, like.
My work environment is my home . Since I don’t have a unit working with me I basically do all the creative work , decide the patterns , the thread colors and so on and hand it over to my staff who take it back home and work on it in the comfort of their home . This system has worked beautifully for me as these are women who need to be home for their family and at The same time need to earn a living .
What is your personal favorite pick at Baby’s Breath right now? And why?
My personal favourite is my linen line and the ethnic indo-western dresses , although each of my creations are dear to me .
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business?
When one does something with passion and care work becomes pleasure . But I have been told that passion needs to grow further to transform into a business !!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?
The biggest learning for me has been people management . Be it staff or clients . Being sensitive to the problems and challenges that my women staff face has been a real eye opener , which made me look at them as another person like me and not a mere worker .
Chennai is home and it is a lovely city to be in .
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