How Entrepreneur Tanushree Nair Uses Upcycling To Make Contemporary Products

Posted: December 28, 2015

In this series of ingenious women entrepreneurs’ stories, we bring to you, Tanushree Nair of Karaashilp, who upcycles to make creative, new products from the old. 

Karaashilp offers products ranging from bags, totes to accessories and home décor, but what struck me about this business is that it focuses on creating upcycled products. Tanushree Nair, the woman behind it, is extremely passionate about reusing and upcycling processes.

When you check out the Karaashilp website and the kind of products it offers, you will be amazed to know that its founder Tanushree started her journey from learning how to stitch a straight line on a sewing machine! Her journey yet again proves how rewarding it can be when you work towards making your dreams come true, no matter where you start from.

An experiment with twin passions

Once a software professional with around 10 years of experience, Tanushree is now chasing her dream as a thriving entrepreneur in handicrafts.

Handicrafts were always an interest for Tanushree who used to do crochet and knitting as a hobby. Soon, she ended up doing more than just crafting, and that is mixing crafting with her other passion on reusing products by upcycling them. “I experimented with my husband’s old disposable denims and came out with my first upcycled denim bag. After that there was no looking back!” she says.

They have collection centres in Bangalore and Pune where people can donate their old denims, cargos and corduroys, out of which Tanushree develops products like denim bags, totes, and travel pouches in contemporary styles.

Creating a differentiated product line

Tanushree has categorized her products into Karaashilp Eco & Karaashilp Premium ranges based on the underlying raw materials. Eco as the name suggests, are the products that are developed from upcycling old denims, and creating functional everyday useful products, thus reducing waste and promoting reuse. The premium range mainly concentrates on creations that are trendy, customizable gifting range. The product designs exude quirky vibrancy and at the same time are highly functional.

Hipster Bag

Tanushree explains, “The differences in prices are reasonable to the design and materials used and do not depend on whether they are Eco or Premium. One is not pricier than the other just because of a label.”

Talking about trials and operations

One of the main challenges for Karaashilp was to turn out a good production support for small volume products. “Also, people bargaining for each and every product thinking that Eco range products should be cheap whereas it takes the most effort and labor to make an upcycled product. Sometimes we have to educate the customer to understand and accept how and why our products are as they are,” reveals Tanushree.

When asked about customization of products, Tanushree says, “We used to customise products in the initial years of our inception. Though we used to love working with customers to closely bring their ideas in existence, it was a laborious job and the remuneration for the same was not attractive for the workers working with us. Hence we had to stop complete customization.” Karaashilp offers a discount on their Eco range when they accept donations of used denims, easing the process of sourcing raw material.

“A unique thing about Karaashilp has been that we try to bring functionality to each product design. It should be an extension of an individual rather than just any product,” Tanushree offers.

The list of products at Karaashilp change but they try to maintain a continuity with the earlier products to the newer products so that there is continuation. She explains, “We are always brimming with new ideas and inspiration strikes anytime. Though it’s not always possible to execute each of our ideas, but we try to bring our products out in phases.”

Ask about her team, Tanushree says, “Currently it is a one-woman team with my family who pitch in and support in times of hectic work schedules. I aspire that Karaashilp should be associated with a brand with sound principles and unique, functional and quirky product range. It should be a brand which resonates with every age group. Hence work towards scaling up and design more products which everybody would love to buy for themselves and not hesitate to gift them too, whether Eco or Premium.”

Workshops, blogs and more!

Karaashilp is more than just selling upcycled products and that is when their workshops and blogs come into the picture! Tanushree says, “It’s purely out of love for sharing the craft and creating awareness that crochet is more than just sweaters and kids stuff. It’s a meditative craft and helps people of all ages.” Karaashilp occasionally conducts ‘Crochet for Beginners’ workshop to train people in the art of crochet. They usually announce workshop batches as and when they get enough enquiries around April/May.

As much as the Karaashilp blog is a medium for writing about their stories and products, it is also a medium for sharing easy to do DIY projects or bring out people who share their passion for upcycling and hand crafting. “We had a guest post marathon this year where we discovered so many talented people wanting to share their passion like us. It is a place where we can converse with our peers, customers and showcase what we want to grow as- as a community,” adds Tanushree. 

One last word…

Social media has been a huge catalyst for her to showcase Karaashilp to vast, diverse people. Tanushree concludes, “’Dream, Achieve, Inspire, Dream’ is my mantra! The journey so far has been nothing less than a roller-coaster ride- exciting, challenging, nerve racking but the most satisfying!”

 Here is the Karaashilp website for you. You can follow Karaashilp here.

Image source: recycle symbol with denim by Shuttershock.

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