Hi, nice to meet you! Tell us about yourself and what you create.
Born & raised in India, I am an accessory designer & entrepreneur based in Michigan. I am the founder & creative director of Variously, a sustainable brand creating capsule collections in home & fashion accessories by exploring contemporary design narratives & collaborating with heritage artisanal clusters globally.
What was your AHA moment?
When I moved from my hometown Ahmedabad in India to New Delhi to pursue my Bachelors in Accessory Design at National Institute of Fashion Technology in 1999. This truly molded me into an independent person and everything I am right now. Living and studying away from my family in an unknown city, pursuing my dreams and choice of career I always wanted to have was truly an AHA moment !
Where do you draw your energy and inspiration from ?
Multiple things inspire me like world culture, food, music, ever changing lifestyle choices of people , observing how people dress up and personalize their spaces, movies, conversations with my family & friends, specially my little one who keeps me on my toes all the time surely inspires me to make the most of my energy !
What are you go-to’s as far as podcasts, books or blogs?
I love to listen to some selective ted talks, filmmaker’s / musician’s / writer’s interviews on youtube.
Visiting libraries is always my go to for inspiration. I absolutely love the hand feel of books , the ability to smell the paper and own the articles with your own vision. I have lots of books in my private collection & I keep digging in those for clearing my mental blocks. I absolutely love @ran_kim curated gallery on fashion on instagram. I also love reading blogs on Maker’s Movement & Grace Gulley who always have amazing content.
What is the most challenging part of running your business?
Creating a sense of balance between personal, business & creative time. While it is incredibly vital to have a rapid learning curve to keep up with things on business front, it is equally on creative front to unlearn as required and not have a set pattern so that I can keep reinventing my design sensibilities. Also the whole aspect of reaching out organically & creating mindful awareness, educating consumers, buyers, stores about the level of work involved in this type of product which is what makes it unique.
What is your favorite part of running your business?
To get to do what I love to do the most, that is to develop custom designs with these amazing heritage artisans who bring so much character to my product line. Sustainability is the bottom line which drives all my business and creative decisions. To see an idea transform from paper to concept to actual material with logistics backing it for production abilities is what I really value as a design entrepreneur and always gives me the same butterflies in my stomach it used to when I was a design student many years ago . Also as I collaborate with people across different geographical areas to realize one single product, the dynamics of all the operations is what I constantly learn from the most. Cross cultural collaboration inspite of all the limitations of an emerging business & brand, to know that your product can have the ability of enabling more employment at a cluster level really helps me shape my ideas, optimize my resources and stick to the point.
What is the best advice that has been given to you?
My experience has taught me that actions speak louder than words. In the end it is all about execution, application and making a tangible difference. Also setting up a practical pace that adds quality to the process & product together, as rushing up never works. Testing out a product is extremely important specially in the early stages.
What is your favorite thing about the handmade community?
It takes a lot of patience, courage and persistence to be a part of handmade community in todays day and age of instant gratification. The best thing is that it is constantly evolving and transforming ideas into products/objects that are personalized. Also as it is so much about an individual’s take on things, handmade community is quite supportive and solution driven at a large which I respect a lot.
Who are some people you admire or look up to in this community?
I admire and look up to the amazing artisans in India & Nepal with whom I collaborate on a day to day basis for all my production. These artisans have given their entire lives to their craft with so much conviction and bring so much design contribution to the table. I am constantly learning possibilities in limitations thanks to their skills to their line of craft & techniques. Also majority of entrepreneurs I collaborate for work are women. It is incredible to see the unbeatable spirit of all these amazing women in Detroit , Ny, LA, India , Nepal area who are so driven & supportive.
If you could work on that one dream project, what would it be?
I am working on my dream project every single day, seeing it come to life, which is Variously ! I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, to pursue this , thanks to the rock solid support of my family.