Sowmya Shenoy Crasta and Meghna Bhat create quirky handmade gifts

When childhood friends come together to start something unique, the venture inevitably has a sparkle of its own. So it was with Sparkle, a personalised handmade gifting solution, set up by Sowmya Shenoy Crasta and Meghna Bhat.

Sowmya is armed with a postgraduate degree in Psychology with a specialisation in HR. After her stint with Infosys, she began Sparkle five years ago. She is also a successful wedding planner. Her partner, Meghna, holds a postgraduate degree in strategic marketing from Dubai and worked as a manager in a German market research firm for over three years. After moving to India, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion in art, and began Meg B Art - a blog dedicated to her oil pastels and water colour paintings.

Narrating how Sparkle was born, Sowmya recounts: “About five years ago, the Indian market had limited options available in the handmade segment. Having travelled a lot, miniature figurines always caught our eye. So we decided to start making personalised handmade gifts.

We began with customising orders for every occasion. There were cake toppers, frames, table top curios, plaques, name plates, theme based figurines, etc. This year Sparkle has diversified and the recent launch of our ‘Galli Galli’ products captures the essence of the street culture of India.”

Among their popular products is the Pandu series, with Pandu, the protagonist being the typical Indian street vendor. Sowmya explains: “He comes with many utility aspects relevant to his profession. For example, ‘Pandu the Jalebi Wallah’ is a cutlery holder, ‘Pandu the Paan Wallah’ is a saunf holder, ‘Pandu the Barber’ is a toiletry holder, ‘Pandu Sugarcane Corner’ is a sweet/sugar holder and ‘Pandu the Nariyal Wallah’ is a toothpick holder. We also have a PCO phone stationary holder, lorry and auto rickshaw frames.”

Ask them what gives Sparkle its shimmer and Meghna responds: “Sparkle products are one of a kind. Since each product is 100 per cent handcrafted, they bring about a wonderful imperfection that makes the items more real and appealing. People are nostalgic and like to be reminded of their roots - both personal and cultural. This is where ‘Galli Galli’ by Sparkle steps in and brings to every customer a bit of the chaotic and authentic India into their homes.”

Over the span of five years, the business has grown but making the switch was not the easiest of things to do, the duo says. “We both come from conventional Indian families where taking up a nine to five job after college was the norm,” says Sowmya. “We followed suit but along the way followed our heart and the rest is history. However, coming from non-business backgrounds with well paid jobs, the change was scary initially, but we realised that due to the changing trends and tastes in the gifting industry we had launched at the right time.”

While the two of them enjoy doing what they do, they face challenges as well. Meghna says: “As each product is handmade, the turnaround time to produce takes at least two to three weeks inclusive of shipping. We need to keep innovating to keep things exciting.”

Looking ahead, the wonder women plan to add sheen to Sparkle by “diversifying and bringing more exciting products to our range. As we love anything handmade, we would like to retain that aspect in all our future products,” Sowmya wraps up.

This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.