Vineetha Naval’s The White Box is a collection of handmade, creative products mostly made from eco-friendly materials.

An architect by profession, Vineetha feels that handmade products are always unique and have a personal touch to it. Her passion for crafting paved the way for her to create her own brand — The White Box. To encourage other emerging creative entrepreneurs she along with the members of the Chennai Crafters group organises Urban Hands, an event where artists like herself showcase their products to the public.

Here’s Vineetha talking about her creative endeavour…

For an architect by profession, how did this creative craft work happen?

I have been inclined towards art and creativity since childhood. I used to make handmade gifts for my friends with what ever materials I had at home — be it designing greeting cards or the way I would wrap gifts. So my interest in the creative field grew and I wanted to do my graduation in a design-related course. That’s how architecture and interiors happened.

The course guided me to think creatively. The course was hectic, but whenever I got the time, I used it to make something creative. I started making candles initially. This got me good response from all my friends and family. They encouraged me to take it to the next level, and that’s when I started taking orders. This is the story behind The White Box which I began as a page on Facebook way back in September 2011.

What defines the products at The White Box?

The White Box is my hobby taken to the next level! I wanted to give people a creative and aesthetically designed product which was handmade. I wanted my products to be out of the box. At the White Box, it’s more flexible as I cater to customised orders (with regard to gifting ideas), and I generally don’t restrict my product range, which means I’m up with making and suggesting gifting options once the client gives me a brief about the idea. I do more of “made to order” products, so I don’t stock my products and each one will be unique and handcrafted with love, giving it a very personal touch.

Your products are all hand-made and you use eco-friendly materials. Can you elaborate?

I have the habit of collecting scrap — old shoe boxes, scrap fabric, old bottles, and so on. So I started redesigning them in a way that they became useful. Like I used scrap fabrics and turned them into string bags, cardboard boxes wrapped with fabric as gifting boxes, old bottles painted with different themes to be used as funky/kitsch lanterns and so on…

You seem to have quite a wide range of products...what are your favourites?

All my products are my prized possessions! My gift tags, gift envelopes, paper pomanders — these are the most ordered for by the wedding and party event managers. My shoes and saree bags made from scrap fabric is a relatively new idea which has also got noticed. Apart from that, my upcycled glass bottles and jars and hand-painted shot glasses have also been appreciated.

Any competition?

I admit it’s a creative field, but I don’t see much of competition right now. If people like my work they place orders. Am happy with being associated with few but contented clients and the customised orders that I get once a while. Since I work as an architect full time, I’m content with whatever orders I get.

Tell us about Urban Hands.

The group Chennai Crafters on Facebook is a forum for craft enthusiasts from Chennai to share and discuss all things artsy and craftsy. We have regular meetings and group challenges. The Urban Hands is an initiative by Shilpa Mitha and we manage the Chennai Crafters group and give a platform to artists to promote their products. Most of them don’t have a store where they can retail their products. So the group gets together to organise Urban Hands, an event where they exhibit and sell their handmade work! The first edition was a one-day event to see how the Chennai crowd responds. The response was so overwhelming that we came with our second edition at The Forum mall which was again a huge success and the artists were happy with the outcome. We are definitely hoping to take this further so that the Chennai crowd gets more familiar and values handmade creations.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Five years from now, I see myself starting my own line of home decor products and running a creative boutique for the same.

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