By Hand From The Heart: One Show, Many Stories!

The makers market event in Chennai aka Madras, dedicated to handmade & design by independent talent, artisanal & homegrown labels.

Startup lessons

AUTHOR – Charu Roopha Srikanth. Maker – Game Changer

It started from a small corner of my bedroom. Today there’s a dedicated work space. It’s going to be 3 years since I started Colors & Mirrors. I wouldn’t trade these 3 years for anything, for its taught me so much and given me so much happiness and satisfaction that I may not be able to convey using words.

I think the most important thing has been to keep doing something. Its important to stop being inside your head and contemplating the what ifs. Take that first, second and third steps. That does not mean taking huge gambles or sinking large investments, it only means that you should act, because there is no substitute to hustle. If it’s a mistake you will know what not to repeat. If it’s not a mistake, you know you are doing the right thing.

Unlike other established businesses or the ideal corporate set up, there is no one to tell you, your job description or scope of work, no one to tell you what is important, there is no ready-made list. Your time is yours, to use or to waste. Initially, in case your priorities are wrong or if you fail to meet your targets, don’t be disheartened, that’s a road well-traveled, for the important thing is to keep learning where you went wrong and use that knowledge to refine your next target/priority / decision.

Don’t take anything for granted. Question everything. That doesn’t mean disrespecting people’s experience. I have been doing this for over two years now and I am still embarrassed almost every other day, by the lack of enough knowledge. However, that will not stop me asking questions even if they are stupid according to many others.

As with everything, social media is a bane and a boon. Without social media and the corresponding internet boom, most of what we see around is not possible. At the same time, also know that social media is not a place for the sensitive nor the timid or the hesitant. Don’t be intimidated or impressed by numbers, Animals/meme pages etc., have a million followers while world class artists have few hundred, numbers mean nothing. But your work, interaction and engagement do. Be consistent, polite, assertive and professional, if you keep at it, you will bump into people with similar set of values at some point and you will resonate with their experience and that’s something you will come to cherish.

While making money is the fuel to the fire and the sustenance required, that doesn’t mean that it be your only priority in life. Having a goal is great, having a target is ideal. But on reaching that goal /target, stop and see if you feel something. You should feel elated, happy and relieved, and not anxious or itchy to move on to the next number (followers, likes, revenue..etc.). The downside of being emotionally connected to your work is that you will wake up many days mid sleep, with a new idea or new worry, you will forget meals, you will forget relatives, friends, for you will be consumed by tons of work. In my view that’s better than to be consumed by some extraneous target set for you by someone else!

When you start from scratch, external validation is important. The feedback, the appreciations, are very formative and have a lasting impact. But also remember that chasing appreciation and invitations will lead you nowhere. There will be not one but a hundred avenues, that will open once you decide to be invested (skill and time) in any area, as for me there were at least 8-10 pop up/ exhibition/market place invitations every month. Every invitation needn’t be an opportunity. Knowing your audience and your target audience comes in handy in making these decisions – in deciding which pop up/market place will convert into a useful experience. How these pop ups/exhibitions/curators treat your brand is extremely important. Knowing the other exhibitors, the other brands, that you would be sharing space with – is also important. A pop up/exhibition being an opportunity, or a loss depends a lot on the homework you do.

“Tell me your friend and I will tell who you are”, goes the adage. In today’s context, you/your brand is – where you (your brand) choose to be, what you choose to portray, whom you choose to work with, what you choose to stand for and of course what you create.

charu.jpgAuthor: Charu Roopha Srikanth, is the founder and designer of Colors & Mirrors, an apparel label. Currently based in Coimbatore, Charu was a featured maker at The Makers Market hosted by By Hand From The Heart in August 2016. She showcased her first collection from her then 1 month old venture. Do follow her on Facebook |  Instagram 



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