The online market is booming and how! Youngsters get a fresh palette of gift ideas, as new companies emerge with a hatke style, kitschy designs and outrageously funny products...

With a population like India’s, it’s not surprising why we run out of gift ideas. There are way too many occasions and holidays to celebrate. More family members than people you can find at the Kumbh Mela, and demanding friends who need more than just a cheesy mug with “friends forever” on them. Yes, finding a unique yet meaningful gift is tough. The last few years though, have seen a “Kitschy bloom” with stores coming out with gift ideas that are stylishly Indian, Next gen and very classy! There's something for everyone at these stores, and what makes it easy is that they can be ordered online. From preferences in sizes (if they're t-shirts and boxers) to choosing the right wrapping paper, these creatively charged companies are custom-made for those who are constantly looking for something new and quirky.

THE KITSCH BAZAAR

TADPOLE STORE - There are products that range from designer wear for men and women, innovative designs for Furniture and Interior, Art & Photography, Lifestyle & Accessory, Office Stationery and Publications. They have over 100 creative minds on board.

MOTHER EARTH - Bangalore

THE ELEPHANT COMPANY- Mumbai

PINK JALEBI- London/ Bangalore

PILGRIM- Bangalore

THE FOOL- Bangalore

KILI- Bangalore

MASALA POPSICLES- Bangalore

PUNE DIARIES- Pune

POPPURI – Mumbai

TUNGS10- New Delhi

KITSCH MANDI 2013

If you’re a fan of everything quirky then don’t forget to catch Kitsch Mandi - an arts and music festival with the best flea market shops, live graffiti, food, organic market, face painting, fresh fruit home-made sorbets and children's workshops. Recently, Bangalore hosted the Kitsch Mandi at Pebbles.

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CHUMBAK (2010), BANGALORE

If you’re an online shopper, you'd have definitely come across Chumbak — a Bangalore-based start up which specialises in India-themed souvenirs. Shubhra Chadda has always nurtured a dream to start something on her own. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says she. “And I loved to travel and that's when I realised that —every time I go somewhere I bring back a souvenir from that country. But there's nothing on India, here.” And that is how Shubhra and Vivek Prabhakar founded Chumbak – the ultimate one-stop shop for Indian souvenirs.

With over 200 stores in the country and 70 in Japan, Chumbak screams out the fun, independent Indian youth. What does Chumbak actually mean? “Chumbak means magnets! Break it down and you get Chumma - means kissing. And bak translates to stone. So they’re kissing stones,” laughs Shubhra. With a creative team of over seven designers, Chumbak’s design statement is simple. “I always tell the team before they start designing to keep them colourful and stay away from clichés,” says Shubhra. They should make you go “ohhhh, remember? We used to do this all the time when we were young”. That is the kind of reaction I’d like youngsters to have.” Quiz her on how quick the online world is warming up to new companies like Chumbak, and she says, “Initially, I looked at the online market as a support channel. If a city doesn’t have a Chumbak store, then going online would work for them. People are very comfortable buying things online.”

Chumbak’s popular and fast-selling products are of course the fridge magnets, the bobble-heads and the Chumbak tins.

Most of their designs are inspired by the everyday people we see around us, like Auto Raja for instance. Kamasutra boxers and coasters are another set of products that have created a splash. “Our idea was to depict Kamasutra, without the nudity,” grins Shubhra. “And I think we got that. The design isn’t in your face. It most definitely will make you smile.”

With Chumbak’s success, Shubhra feels that India is waking up to good designs. “Being an illustrator or a designer holds huge promise. They are finally being appreciated,” says she. “I would advise budding designers to stay true to yourself. Be inspired, but be original too.”

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HAPPILY UNMARRIED (2002), DELHI

Meanwhile, way back in 2002 just when the economy was beginning to look up, there was another such company that was finding its way to the very same market. Happily Unmarried was founded by Rahul Anand and Rajat Tuli, both alumni of the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad. The story of Happily Unmarried is an interesting one —right from the quirky name to the products. “We wanted to do something fun and Indian. But nobody was doing it at that time and everyone said we would run out of ideas,” says Rajat. “People had to get used to the idea of online purchasing. There was no Facebook too.” However, around 2007 Happily Unmarried started picking up. “Why Happily Unmarried? Well, we were single and we were students at that time. And we realised that everything in India is family-oriented. Think about it! Serials, programmes, advertisements - everything!” says Rajat. In a country where 69% of the population was below the age of 35 years old, Rajat and Rahul found themselves targeting the singles. “We are young people, acting like old people!” laughs Rajat.

Happily Unmarried has a gamut of gift options — all uniquely designed and thought over. They have key hangers, chai glasses, shot glasses, cushions, lamps and even ashtrays! One of their most popular designs was the Sandaas Ashtray, designed like the traditional bathroom. Another quirky line of products were their Dil Ki Chabbi key holders and Nariyal coin holder. Happily Unmarried can now be found in Shillong, Goa and Chandigarh. In addition, Happily Unmarried also organises an independent music festival called Music in the Hills.

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VERRY INDIA (2010), MUMBAI

What’s fun about Verry India is that their cartoons are absolutely hilarious, and there’s one from every part of the country! With a certain twist in their style, Verry India is headed by creative genius Vikram Nandwani and Kusum Rohra. Together, they capture India through caricatures. Their latest collection of 2013 diaries were a big hit with the main theme being Indian myth and beliefs. One such diary has the image of the Limbu Mirchi, that is supposed to ward off evil and bring about good luck. Another one has the very powerful Hanuman, and the other the Ashwamedha (the horse). Quiz Vikram on his designs and his route to Verry India and he says, “I started out with cartooning as a hobby and then eventually started the Verry India blog.” Vikram and his partner, Kusum Rohra, started online selling soon after the blog went viral. “It was slow, but we know the reach was massive,” says Vikram.

There has been a rather interesting pattern where Indian gods and goddesses have been depicted in a “Next gen” style, tweaked to fit as a modern, 21 century god. Indian myth is now a part of a pop-culture series and surprisingly, it’s a hit! “Well, they were always popular, right?” asks Vikram. “The Raja Ravi Varma paintings have always been along those lines but what we do is – we fine-tune them, make them colourful, vibrant and easy on the eye!”

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BECHAIN NAGRI, AHMEDABAD

Bechain Nagri is the brainchild of the young and the restless. Created by a group of final year students from National Institute of Design, Bechain Nagri was the result of an epiphany these students had. “We realised it was about time we stopped making that call back home for money and began to pay our own bills!” says Manasi Parikh, one of the founders of Bechain Nagri.

Bechain Nagri literally translates into Restless Town. Manasi describes it as a space for people who are constantly on the lookout for something new. “All of us on the team have day jobs or are still studying. When we get frustrated with work, and need an outlet to do our own stuff, we come together and work here.” With a funky logo that looks like a doodle, the team at Bechain Nagri whips up quirky illustrated covers for journals and had recently launched a range of posters. Ask Manasi about their design statement and she says, “We don't have a fixed design style. We have about 15 illustrators on board, and they have complete freedom to do what they love —from picking the subject of the design to the treatment and colours of the final design.” With a group of students backing Bechain Nagri, we ask them whether being an illustrator or a designer is a promising career. “It's a fun career!” says Manasi. “But at the same time it’s a whole tonne of hard work as well. I would tell upcoming designers to observe things around them and keep sketching. It's only when you do lots that'll you’ll get better.”

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RAJINI-KAMAL STUDIOS, 2013 CHENNAI

Three different people, three different lives, three different dreams come together to walk on the same road. They share the same passion. Love for art. Love for colours and love for everything that spells design. Johnny, Joseph Rajini and Kamalraj Asoka. Johnny heads the creative bench. He makes and brings to life the ideas that are rooted in their colour crazy heads to the huge canvas. He draws his inspiration from Mr. Zakhir Hussain. Joseph Rajini and Kamalraj Asoka are the photographers who bring life to Johnny’s ideas. Quiz these boys about the funda behind their name and they say, “The name is coined through a combination of the names of the two camera-wielding boys, Rajini and Kamal. It also brings two legends /Pillars of the Indian cinema on the same podium delivering a punch that is hard to forget,” says Johnny. And the logo? “The logo, a moustache stand for the quintessential love towards being an Indian,” says Joseph. “It chimes in with what the two actors stand for, the stylish goggles stands for Rajini Sir’s style quotient, the lips stands for Kamal Sir’ LOVE quotient, the third is the camera lens which stands for the profession.

Rajini-Kamal studios create portfolios, music videos, branding (Designing logos, creating copy, etc.) They are also launching their own line of products that include t-shirts, boxers, mugs, coasters , key chains, notepads etc.