A civil engineer by training with a degree in financial management, city-based Roshni Puthukudy, is a Malayalee who grew up in nine different states, thanks to her defence background. It was during these years that she was exposed to various art forms and her passion for crafting took root. However, it was only when she took a break from her corporate life in 2014 that she decided to do something more serious with her oodles of creativity.
Roshni decided to answer her calling to be a crafter while on vacation in her hometown. “While dusting out old school books and papers, I found a preserved file which contained all my childhood paintings and drawings. That visual inspired me to take up my long lost passion. I started attending art classes where they specifically taught traditional art forms. I would accompany my son to his drawing classes as well. I started learning new techniques through YouTube videos. And then it was all about experimenting. I am blessed to have the support and encouragement of my husband and kids. When things started falling in place and I found my products saleable, EthniChic was born,” she recalls.
Reaching out to the modern Indian woman who is fashionable yet connected to her roots, EthniChic is an initiative that brings Indian ethnicity to one’s home, in the form of home décor, accessories, and apparels that are hand painted or decoupaged. Roshni’s products range from jewellery boxes, trays, votive stands, khullads, hand mirrors, lamp shades and palm leaf fans to bangles, neck pieces, earrings and much more. She also hand paints saris, skirts, jumpsuits, kurtas, waistcoats and dresses. “Each piece of art is crafted with utmost care and passion. I still don’t like calling it a business because for me it feels like meditation,” says Roshni. Prepping up for her journey as an entrepreneur was interesting. “The biggest challenge was to take the risk and see if my idea would work. Then, I had to understand what customers really want. I did at least six to eight months of research and exhibition hoping to understand how and what works. I’ve tried out various products in the first six months of setting up before I finally arrived at the current product line. I attended various training programmes on Indian art forms to learn with a deeper sense.”
Of her challenges so far, she says: “Time is the biggest challenge. Then there’s tons of competition in the market so much so that handmade items are often not given their due. Also, since it takes lot of time and effort to hand paint/hand craft things, they are slightly costlier than the mass produced/printed items, and therefore our market is not as large.”
While plans to expand her business are in the pipeline, she says: “I keep trying new products regularly. I started with hand painted apparels and then moved on to home decor and accessories. I love to innovate. There is always a quench to try out new things to keep myself active creatively.”
(This column features people who have veered off the beaten track)