Saniya Harris and Adeeba Abdur Rahman create accessories with the bow motif

Blair Waldorf, lead character of TV show Gossip Girl, is every girly girl’s dream fashionista. Whether in short dresses or long gowns, dressed for school or for a night out, her trademark accessory is a hairband with a large bow, designed to contrast or complement her outfit. Back in Kochi, Blair is the prime inspiration behind handmade accessory label, The Ribbon and The Bow. Co-founders, and cousins in their twenties, Saniya Harris and Adeeba Abdur Rahman, say they loved her style enough to try and replicate it on their own; and thus launched their label in 2011.

Starting small

“We bought some fabric, stitched bows from it, placed it on hairbands and put up the final pictures online. To our surprise, our friends loved it and asked for more. Soon, we were sold out of the first batch we had made!” says Saniya. Today, they have several thousand fans on their Facebook page, ship their products to clients across the country and still, Saniya says, the duo hasn’t tired of ideas to reinvent the bow motif. All their products — slippers, hairbands, hairclips, trousseau hangers and the soon-to-arrive bags — feature bows of different textures, colours, patterns and knots.

While some are made of ribbon, others are of fabrics such as chiffon, georgette and satin, and are sewn and glued to the product to last long. Occasionally, they work with buttons and flowers too.

Saniya has just completed her MBA and Adeeba is in her final year of law, but for two years now, the cousins say they’ve found time for creativity every weekend. “Adeeba comes up with most of our design ideas and I figure out a way to execute them. Her style is quite bold while mine is more delicate; so we make a good match between the two of us,” says Saniya. Their raw materials come from Broadway, are picked up in Chennai and Bangalore or are bought online from foreign brands.

“We started out targeting youngsters our age with the hairbands but once we branched into slippers, we have sixty-year-old clients too!” While trends have shown that college goers prefer bands with a single large bow, many older clients have picked intricate designs such as floral bands for weddings. Their latest outing has been accessories for babies, besides customising for particular outfits.

The early days saw customers primarily from Chennai and Bangalore who found them online. After over 10 exhibitions across south India, including many in Kochi, the label has become popular locally too. They now retail through Head over Heels in Calicut and Roti Kapda Makaan in Mumbai, as well as on websites such as indiebazaar.com and itshandmade.in, besides through their Facebook page. “We’ve had orders coming in from faraway places like Chandigarh and Jamshedpur; sometimes certain items become very popular in one city; or we get bulk orders for one accessory.” The Ribbon and The Bow keep in touch with their clients through personalised little letters that accompany each shipping. “Often people write back such lovely notes. We’ve become friends with absolute strangers since we began this project.”

One customer, who religiously bought bands for her daughter each month, once landed outside Saniya’s home with a large cake saying, “I’m so happy you’re doing this!”

The first of the label’s bulk orders, surprisingly came from her father. “My room looks like a factory always. There’ll be ribbons flying around, stacked glue bottles and newspaper everywhere. To get me to stop the madness, my dad gave me an order of 500 hairbands, which Adeeba and I actually finished. That’s when he knew we loved this too much to stop!” Find The Ribbon and The Bow on www.facebook.com/theribbonandthebow or at theribbonandthebow@gmail. com