A doctor who deftly handles needles and threads to create wonders on fabric, writes A. SHRIKUMAR

Not many of us get to choose what we want to be in life or to pursue something we have passion for as our profession. But, Ms. Beatrice Mary manages to pursue a profession of a doctor and yet provide food for her passion as a designer. A deep-rooted fascination for clothes, designs and art, a strong belief in hard work, a non-fluctuating flow of ideas, a constant source of encouragement from friends and family and an unflinching satisfaction in her work keeps her going.

When asked about her indulgence in such varied arenas as a homoeopathy physician and almost a fashion designer, she sniggers, that the creative bend to her stems from a cheery childhood as she was able to stitch blouse for her mom when she was in the sixth grade. “Being a mother of two, a doctor, a wife and a designer is of course challenging, but the support and help from my friends and my inner grit makes me do it” she chuckles.

“I was a student of St. Josephs School and never used to miss my stitching classes. Needles, threads, clothes and colours always attracted me,” she shares. With a refined taste and flair for artistic designs, she could flaunt her inimitable additions for her own saris and the salwars of her sisters. And even as a young student, her sisters worked as ad agencies spreading her glory in their colleges.

Till today, she says, she is known to her customers only through word of mouth. She has never marketed her designs vigorously. Trapped in a small conservative town, her innovative creations couldn't just reach more than a few known relatives or friends' closets. Although she nurtured the undying designer in her, she couldn't make commercial outcome of it. Yet, driven by the encouragement and appreciation from various quarters, she dreamt of making it big and born out of it was her brainchild -- ‘Knits n Knots' -- a boutique which she runs on the first floor of her clinic, at Alagar Koil Road. Started in 2009, it celebrated its first anniversary in Pongal utsav at Gandhi Museum grounds, with a small stall.

Inspiration

Blessed with a varied string of interest and curiosity, her designs for saris and salwars are unique. “I get inspiration from random sources. A few motifs are derived from Egyptian and Greek art, sometimes from the Tamil mural paintings, but mostly from my own imagination,” she beams.

The creations speak of a flawless craftsmanship in its sheer exuberance. Ornate paisleys, flowers, petals, butterflies and birds add a feminine grace to the garments. The dress materials including dupattas and saris are carefully chosen and outsourced from big cities. Tussar silk saris, kota cottons, mulberry and jute silk and similarly, various other rare kinds of fabrics are selected for dress materials. “I regularly go to Bangalore and Chennai for material sourcing and get unique looking saris and fabrics. Apart from these, I also hunt for beads, stones and other necessities,” she explains.

Design process

Depending on their texture and color, the designs for borders, pallus and chudidhars are preferred and artistically stitched or pasted on the material so that there is a harmonious blend of material and design. The design process starts from a simple sketch on paper and proceeds with much attention to a well-executed surface ornamentation.

Patchwork, gota and chamki, appliqué and bead work are her forte as surface embellishments. These are all hand-done by a group of women, which is worthy of mention.

As a trainer

“I have trained more than ten housewives in the art. A sari takes around 15 to 20 days depending upon the intricacy of the design and the number of people working on the piece. A salwar set usually takes less time”, says the doctor, who also claims she never repeats a design. “Every piece boasts of a different design and is customized according to the client's preference.” she underlines.

Her designs are surely tempting. “The price never deters a quality conscious customer from buying,” she claims.

A completely finished kota cotton starts from Rs.800 and a tussar silk costs around Rs. 3500.

Well begun, ‘Knits n Knots' has already earned a considerable reputation among its clients.

Not to stop with this, the designer-doctor hopes to take her creative products outside Madurai and India as well.

“In fact, my designs have already reached foreign countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, England, Australia and America, through friends and clients who travel abroad,” she shares with pride.

If you are on the lookout for customized designs, ‘Knits n Knots' may be an apt place. For further enquiries call 9994373727.