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What does it take to turn your passion for art into a business? We talk to entrepreneur Sreedevi Gattu about her journey.
Sreedevi Gattu believes that art should be usable, every day. That is why her entrepreneurial venture KnitKnacks, specialises in creating usable art and simultaneously conducts workshops around the same.
She says, “Not art for art sake but art in usable items – which is also the tagline for KnitKnacks and this keeps me motivated to create crafts day after day!”
For someone who worked in the corporate world for 18 long years, the childhood passion of working with arts and crafts has turned into a successful enterprise today. Though Sreedevi was working in a technical role, it did not hold her back from realising her interest in crafting. She had the opportunity to learn from many self-motivated individuals and even met her life partner during her stint with a telecom company.
“Art and crafts was part of my growing up years in Hyderabad. As a child, making muggulu (rangoli in Andhra Pradesh), creating greeting cards and little giveaways for friends and embroidering handkerchiefs was a delightful part of my world,” she recalls. She was soon popular among her aunts, grandmothers and neighbours who used to order unique gifting items for their dear ones.
KnitKnacks is just about a year old but Sreedevi says she is building its client base rapidly. The name’KnitKnacks’ almost sounds like ‘Knick-Knacks’, doesn’t it? Sreedevi offers, “It is a word play on knick-knacks. KnitKnacks communicates the idea that we celebrate art by creating customized and usable hand crafted items. We have hand knit, hand embroidered and painted items.” KnitKnacks has been part of many flea markets and events so far and plans to open an online and physical shop soon.
The creations have elements of painting or/and hand-embroidery and the products range from bookmarks, stick puppets, finger puppets, coasters to hand-painted and embroidered T-shirts, cushion covers, aprons and backpacks. They make items to mark specific occasions like Rakhis for Rakshabandhan and tea-light lamps for Diwali.
Sreedevi conducts regular craft classes at home, during school vacations and also with fellow crafters and she is open to conduct them for all young at heart and not just for kids! The workshops concentrate on topics where the children are introduced to hand embroidery, embroidery on paper, glass painting, paper craft, acrylic painting on different surfaces.
She selects projects carefully so that these can be used in daily life as well. She adds, “This gives a sense of accomplishment to the children that they are able to create something that they can use. From what they learn at the classes, they are able to make gifts for their parents, relatives and friends”.
When asked about the initial glitches in setting up KnitKnacks, Sreedevi recalls, “The first glitch I faced initially was with finding helpers! But by word of mouth I spread my requirement and I eventually found two helpers.” The next issue for her was to find specific space for her work and that is when they moved into a home with extra room.
Given the nature of her business, she actually feels it is a boon being a woman and a parent. However the complexity in registering her business and reaching out to a larger customer base are still typical issues she faces although sourcing different raw materials has become easier with the growing number of online stores today.
“It’s actually not very difficult – defining and adhering to a clear time table for family and work. Inspite of the time-table, sometimes the family time does get eaten into and vice versa. Vibhor, my husband, supports me in this venture with appreciation and sound advice and some times, in setting up and manning the stalls. My sons provide their critical reviews of the creations and also double up as delivery boys!” she says.
Amidst all these, there were some low moments too with sales not up to expectations in spite of the high effort and expenditure. Sreedevi says, “I used to be shy to interact with people but now I have learnt and am beginning to enjoy different kinds of interactions. It is important to understand different viewpoints, take feedback objectively and not feel too bad about it. I will repeat one of my favourite quotes by Albert Einstein – You never fail until you stop trying.”
Her goal is to follow ethical practices, environment-friendly practices and provide an environment for work with dignity to her helpers. She feels social media is a great enabler for small home businesses, which helps them to reach out to many potential customers with free of cost.
She has one thing to say to all those women entrepreneurs who are ready to take the plunge of starting a new venture – along with having a great idea, skill and talent one needs to be honest and fair in the dealings with employees, customers, co-workers!
Sreedevi is available for customised requests and orders at 7259119899. Currently a wide range of their cushion covers are available for purchasing online at World Art Community. Follow KnitKnacks here.
Loves to click pictures, dance, cook, travel, craft, read and write!
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