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Glue, paper, wood, scissors...

The cover of the scrapbook  

Vidya Ravichandran’s room is full of paper of various kinds, glue, ribbons and other accoutrements of her trade. She clears things away in a hurry as we settle down to chat about Aydiv, as her venture is called. Aydiv is the reverse of Vidya, she explains.

“I was always interested in art and craft, even when I was in school. Painting was my passion,” she says. But post-school, her route went via BITS-Pilani where she took a degree in engineering. Four years in Infosys, marriage and a daughter later, Vidya went back to her first love.

“I quit my job for personal reasons,” she says with a shy smile. “But I had always made cards and gifts for my friends and family. Sometimes friends would ask me to make things for them.”

Looking at the array of products, I ask about the material she works with. “I work with paper, cardboard and MDF wood. My range starts from Rs.100 and goes up to Rs. 2000.” Vidya began Aydiv just over 18 months ago. Her signature product is an explosion box, which combines a card and gift. When the lid is lifted, the four sides fall apart to reveal a gift box inside. Each wall has space for a message or photograph.

“This is the basic model,” she says. “I can add more layers inside or make it bigger or smaller depending on the client’s needs.”

Her other products include scrapbooks, fridge magnets, door hangers, and general cards. Some fridge magnets are simple, just an image and a few words. Others are slightly bigger with inbuilt clips to hold photographs or notes. A third variety is fairly big and comes with a little notepad and pen so that it acts like a reminder … A basic model of a scrapbook that can show the baby’s first year, paper containers that can hold sweets or dry fruits are other samples.

In the beginning, Vidya made a couple of samples and put them up on her Facebook page. “People who wanted to buy it would ask for customisation – another colour or theme. Now I have more designs but it is still customised according to the client’s needs.”

Vidya is also open to working with any specific designs that a client might have and sends her products across the country.

Much of her material is sourced locally but “a few things have to be got from other cities, usually Chennai, Mumbai or Kolkata. I am trying to find local suppliers as that will help reduce my cost.”

Vidya’s price right now does not take into account the time she spends on each piece, she says. She also tries to reduce wastage by using as much of the leftover material as possible. She shows some pretty tags made with scraps that would have otherwise made their way into the dustbin.

Another way of keeping her price reasonable is to find alternatives to the more expensive items. “For example, the archival glues, which are used for scrapbooks, are quite costly. I use regular fabric glue, which works fine.”

There is a wide range of embellishments available but, she tailors that to suit her client’s budget. “Most people don’t want to spend more than Rs.1000 for a gift, so I keep the embellishments down.”

Pattern paper is one crucial component for her work that she cannot find in Coimbatore. The other thing that she has look for outside the city is the MDF wood items.

Her major challenge, she says, is finding customers who appreciate and understand the value of handcrafted items. “I started this business because I want to change the concept of gifting. I wanted handcrafted items to be affordable and reasonably priced.”

Her target clientèle is college students and homemakers but she does take a few bulk orders. “I made 400 wedding cards recently. I am trying to work on the batch process so that I can make more products.” Right now, she admits sheepishly, she ropes in her husband and family to give her a helping hand. Her future plans include hiring someone to help and to eventually set up a store. “I’m trying to to make DIY kits. Classes for kids in which parents can also participate are also on the anvil. I had a stall at a recent exhibition and lots of people wanted to know how to make such stuff. Lots of people are interested but don’t know where to start. In this field, the possibilities are endless. You have to experiment and find out what works best for you.”

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 11:42:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Glue-paper-wood-scissors.../article16086104.ece

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