Monday, November 28, 2016

Mela Artisans - By Heart, By Hand (Featured Brand)

I personally have a lot of admiration and respect for the new wave of entrepreneurs who don’t just think business but are on a more purposeful social entrepreneurial mission. A mission steered by the thought to give back to the community. One such lifestyle brand, ideated by father-daughter duo - Navroze S. Mehta and Sonali Mehta Rao, is Mela Artisans! Based out of NYC, not only did this brand resonate with me on a design level but also because at its core, they are continually striving to bring about a positive change for the Indian artisans who are struggling to keep our heritage crafts alive. 
GRAMERCY COLLECTION
In 2015, Mela succeeded in creating 7,000 jobs for these artisans! Mela believes in going beyond “just supporting their livelihoods.” They have been ploughing back 1% of their sales into projects that help their artisans. They’ve partnered with Vision Spring, Sevamob, and Greenlight Planet (three innovative social enterprises in India), to bring vision exams, healthcare and solar lamps respectively to empower the artisan communities. 
CHANTILLY COLLECTION
By assisting artisan communities’ access new markets, Mela Artisan is truly a catalyst in preserving and reviving the heritage crafts of India. Unlike a lot of other sites that pull together artisan/handmade products from India, Mela has an in-house design team that curates and designs each collection. Navroze (co-founder) travels to India several times each year to meet with the artisans in person. Once they finalize on the artisan sector they wish to work with, the design team taps into the skillsets of the artisans and then takes on the task to create products for a global audience with a contemporary design palate. The response to Mela’s products has been phenomenal! Their products have been featured on PopSugar, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and at more than 300 boutiques across US!
FANTASY AND IMPERIAL BEAUTY COLLECTION
In the home décor segment, their product range includes photo frames, boxes, trays, bowls, tabletop vases, candle holders, throw pillows and desk accessories, with each product page narrating the story of the community responsible for creating it. The design process adopted by Mela has effortlessly included bone inlay and wood carving into their amazing collections that is the perfect balance of the best of the traditional Indian craft forms with the functionality of contemporary design. 
TRIBECA COLLECTION
My absolute favorite amongst the collections being the Gramercy and the Imperial Beauty. Also, their latest experiment to modernize traditional Indian Ikat has resulted in the Buna collection. Strung together by handloom artisans of South India, the Buna collection is made of woven banana fibers and sea grass, using an Ikat warp.
BUNA COLLECTION
And for the fashionistas, they have an amazing collection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, earrings and scarves. 
 SPOILT FOR CHOICE - BOLD STATEMENT PIECES TO CHIC AND ELEGANT
The wonderful people at Mela wanted me to sample a piece of their stunning jewelry collection. Given that it was the holiday party season, I chose to review the Hidden Cay Multi-Color Necklace. I fell in love with its chic and elegant design!14kt Gold Plated, this brass necklace is delicate with alternating rectangle Aqua Chalcedony, Blue lapis and Green onyx. It has a beautiful finish, great detailing (like even the clasp has a mini-elephant dangler), really light-weight and very sturdy. The versatile design can be styled either with a formal evening dress or with jeans for a casual lunchdate with girlfriends! Overall a totally charming necklace and very well made!
A CLOSE UP OF THE HIDDEN CAY NECKPIECE.......AND THE NEXT IMAGE IS OF ME SPORTING THE CASUAL-CHIC LOOK WITH MY VERY OWN HIDDEN CAY NECKLACE
Mela currently ships only in the USA. You can shop for Mela products right here and do your bit to support these wonderful craft forms and a genuine mission. Should you decide to shop in person, they also have two stores, one in Manchester, VT (4566 Main Street, Manchester VT) and other recently opened in Soho between Houston and Prince (580 Broadway Room 711, NY). They have some amazing Cyber Monday offers (50%off sitewide) and sales going on right now, so make you head to their web boutique right away. Also make sure to stay connected with them via their SM platforms like Facebook and Instagram for latest updates and insider scoop on sales.

I wish Mela Artisans all the very best in their endeavor to support such a wonderful cause! 
As for you my lovely peeps, have a wonderful week ahead!

(Image Courtesy: Mela Artisans but for the last image - Sruthi Singh)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Indian Weave Giveaway Winner!

It's time to announce the winner of The Indian Weave Giveaway !!! I'd like to thank Jean and Punnet Roy for sponsoring this wonderful giveaway and all my lovely readers who participated and made this such a success.

Without further ado:
Pavitra Vaidya, please write to me at theeastcoastdesi@gmail.com with your contact details (email and address) so that we may ship you the wonderful handcrafted brass candle snuffer at the earliest:)

Enjoy your weekend folks !

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Indian Weave and a Wonderful Giveaway!

Welcome to the world of “The Indian Weave”! A world inhabited by unique vintage treasures, indigenous textiles and traditional Indian arts and crafts, all handpicked to match the urban sensitivities of today’s well-informed consumer. Based in Gurgaon (India), this web boutique was established by Jean and Puneet Roy, with the intent to endorse less known traditional Indian arts and crafts and promote fair trade in honor of the many gifted artisans who still manage to keep the traditional way of creating the arts and crafts alive. Jean shares, “Having worked with the best luxury hotels for more than 3 decades, it was natural for me to follow my love for the good things in life and something that would provide me the freedom and flexibility to pursue 3 important passions – a reason to travel, an opportunity to learn about our rich culture and finally, a chance to discover and promote the fascinating Indian heritage and its crafts.” I had the opportunity to chat up with this lovely lady and talk to her about her adventurous journey so far. 
TECD: Hello and welcome to TECD Jean! Let’s start by asking you what according to you is the USP of “The Indian Weave”? 
Jean Roy: “Each piece is personally chosen by my husband and me. We travel all over India from time to time visiting artisans and finding authentic sources for our products that you see in our store. All products are handmade, hand crafted and are sourced most often from the artisans themselves who are making them as per age old traditions / practices.”
TECD: Tell us more about the curating process that is adopted for The Indian Weave?
Jean Roy: “No matter which state we visit, we find local handicraft which is unique to the state/tradition. We then try and identify what will be appreciated by our customers especially Indians living abroad which will make them feel closer home - India. (Also keeping in mind our other global customers who love everything Indian.) We understand the process and the history behind each item, meet with them one on one whenever and wherever possible and keep a tab on what’s trending or not.”
TECD: Though The Indian Weave is a fairly new venture, you have grown by leaps and bounds. What would you say has been your success mantra?
Jean Roy: “Be passionate. Love what you do and as they say, if you make your passion or hobby your profession, you do not have to work a single day in your life.”

TECD: What have you personally taken away from this project of yours?
Jean Roy: “Rediscovering India through its beautiful handicrafts, skill of artisans, age old traditions still prevalent in keeping the crafts alive and the realization that there is so much more to our own country than one can imagine.”
 TECD: What can we expect to see in your latest curated collection? 
Jean Roy: “We recently featured a Diwali collection and over the next month shall be featuring a festive collection which shall include some handicrafts made by Indian artisans for the forthcoming Christmas season for buyers abroad.”

TECD: What are the Future plans for The Indian Weave?
Jean Roy: “We plan to travel extensively in the coming year to discover more of “Incredible India”, meet with artisans, understanding the traditions and the wide variety of Indian handicrafts available so can offer them to our clients, old and new.”
TECD: What would you say are the 3 never fail decor tips that one could use to spruce up a place instantly?
Jean Roy:
  • "If you like it, buy it no matter what kind of house or interiors you have, as you will cherish it forever with fondness.
  • Vintage is always in vogue. Keep it in any living space at your home. It’s going to be a conversation piece with your family and friends. 
  • Curate your own collection, slowly and surely from our collection of beautiful vintage pieces and home accessories not only to make your home beautiful but also help keeping the Indian traditions and handicrafts alive.”
To shop this fantastic range of products, visit their web boutique right here. They currently have a fabulous sale – 15% off everything! You could also connect with them via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter and stay abreast of regular updates of their latest collections, discount offers and sale events. (FYI: They ship worldwide via India International speed post.) 
What’s more? In sync with the spirit of this season, TECD in collaboration with The Indian Weave is bringing you a wonderful giveaway - this Vintage brass scissor candle snuffer. It is handcrafted with delicately carved birds, fine engravings and Indian motifs. To enter the giveaway, follow All three below mentioned conditions:
Thank you The Indian Weave for the wonderful GIVEAWAY and good luck to my wonderful readers. Winner will be announced on November 18th, 2016. (P.S. Giveaway is open to ALL my readers worldwide) !!!

(Image Credit: The Indian Weave)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ek Dori: Create, Curate and Care (Featured Brand)

What ensues when two sisters with an eye for antiquated charm and passion for design and decor come together??? The answer to that question is “Ek Dori”! Based in Pune (India), Ek Dori is the newest online decor boutique for vintage collectibles and handmade goodness. Abhilasha and Aditi, the sister duo we featured a few weeks with regard to Maharani Baug have taken on another dream project and turned it into reality. This project is a combined effort to make vintage décor more accessible, popularize rich Indian crafts and also serve as a means to give back to their community!
Ek Dori’s diligently curated collection is put together by the team by travelling the length and breadth of the country, hunting down unique treasures by connecting with the locals and personally understanding the process of creation of the product itself. Their curated range of brass artifacts currently includes Lassi glasses, chai kettles, surmadanis, Mini brass paandaans, vintage hairpins and the munimji notebook! I had a quick tete-a-tete with Abhilasha to bring you an exclusive insider perspective on this new venture. 
TECD: Hello Abhilasha! Delighted to have you back on TECD! Let’s start by asking you, what is the significance of the name "Ek Dori"?
Abhilasha: “My pleasure Sruthi! Thank You for featuring us. Ek Dori symbolizes the invisible thread that joins us and our passions, dreams, creativity and heritage together. It is the force that helps us create, curate and care. It is the force that brings us together.” 
 TECD: How did the plan for "Ek Dori" take shape? 
Abhilasha: “There never existed a plan for Ek Dori. It was always just a dream that I nurtured in a corner of my heart. A dream that refused to die no matter how hard my mind and business logic tried. The dream started to take concrete shape when destiny brought into my life women, young and old, women who had a desire to learn, to contribute, to grow and to make a difference. But unfortunately they have never got an opportunity to get an education. At Ek Dori, the desire to provide an opportunity to these women to make an honorable living, is what drives us. These are the women behind Ek Dori. These are the women who gave the dream shape and form.”
TECD: What according to you, sets Ek Dori apart from the many other decor brands out there? 
Abhilasha: “Ek Dori is Indian at its core and in its soul. We take great pride in promoting and upholding Indian crafts, textiles and people. All products at Ek Dori whether created or curated speak an Indian language and tell the stories our grandmothers told us. We will soon be launching products that are handmade at the Ek Dori studio by the Ek Dori women.”
TECD: What are your future plans for "Ek Dori"?
Abhilasha: “No plans but lots of dreams - new lines, new innovative, meaningful handmade products and loads of smiles. We are taking it one step at a time, but the ultimate goal is to provide employment for as many women as we come across.”
Ek Dori’s upcoming collection is a curated range of vintage and rare brass collectibles along with handmade brass toys and hand embellished wall art. The products are truly one-of-a-kind and if I had to redefine greed it would be translated as “I WANT ALL of the products listed at Ek Dori!” So beat me to it by connecting with them via Instagram and calling first dibs on your favorite piece. For pricing details and product queries DM the Ek Dori team Via Instagram. Ek Dori ships worldwide (Shipping charges as applicable).
Before I sign off for today, Abhilasha and Aditi, I’d like to wish you all the very best!

(Image Credit: Ek Dori and subject to copyright)

Friday, October 28, 2016

It is that time of the year again! (Diwali 2016)

Yes it is! 

Let me give you a quick run-down of the festive atmosphere here at the TECD casa..... Everything is squeaky clean and shiny for Diwali.....come evening and the home is enveloped in the candid glow cast by the flames lit from the diyas and candles.....The kitchen smells heavenly with the aroma of ghee being generously added to every dish.....Diwali gifts are being wrapped for family and friends......And marigolds and mums are happily conquering different areas of the home with their cheer!
Whether you are celebrating Diwali to commemorate Goddess Laxmi’s birthday or are celebrating it to honor Lord Rama’s return from his exile, for me, it is a wonderful time of the year to slow down for a moment, observe traditions and gather family and friends around and enjoy the precious company of my tribe!
To make it extra special for my tribe, I’ve created a festive atmosphere with fall colors this Diwali. Yes, I didn’t have to look very far for inspiration. All I had to so was to peep outside my window. The Golden hues of the leaves have been mimicked by the glistening brass and the orange and red tones are being aped by the seasonal flowers like Marigolds and mums. 
I think Marigolds are quintessentially Indian! If I had to describe these beauties, I'd say that their ruffled edges, look like beautiful ghagras being twirled around in merriment. And their exotic fragrance may not be the sweetest but its familiar scent brings back impressions of a happy time for me. So when a wonderful neighbor friend, very graciously shared these blooms from her garden, I was so excited to include them in every possible vignette that I had visualized.  To add a special unconventional touch to the arrangement, I brought out my dried lavender stems that I have been saving since last summer. The final effect is what you see above! 
And then of course, I had to bring out the terracotta diyas for no Diwali decor is complete without their presence! But to minimize the mess, I just stuck in votives into them and was done lighting them in no time!
When it comes to tablescapes, I have two of them planned out this time. First one is the one that you see above. A simple center piece created by grouping my vintage amber miniature glass hobnail oil lamp, brass kalash pots (holding pretty apricot colored mums) and an intricately carved wooden charger. A beautiful runner with floral embroidery forms the base of the setting. The delicate embroidery picks up the hues that I intended to juggle this time for Diwali, making the entire setting look cohesive. To add a more Diwali-ish effect to the setting, I went ahead and added some embellished votive holders in the same shades. (Decor Tip: Incorporating seasonal colors into your festive decor is always a good idea as it makes it so easy to create a pulled together look in no time. Like for instance, the stores here in the US are now brimming with decor in fall hues.) Second, is an elaborate tablescape  with red roses and a lot of shimmer for my Diwali party that I'm hosting for a group of friends. This will be happening this Saturday, so I'll try my best to sneak in a few clicks and then share it with you'll at leisure.......
Before we wind up, I had to include this image here that garnered so much attention both on FB and Instagram.  Black is a bold color choice to go with but I'm glad the final effect is awesome (if I may say so myself)! My readers too backed me up on this non-traditional color choice and had the nicest things to say about it in their feedback ......you guys are the best! 
And finally my mantel all decked up for the festival of lights......

I wish you (my favorite people) a laughter filled, fun, green and safe Diwali! 

(Images and Styling: Sruthi Singh. The images are copyright protected and may not be used without prior written permission.) 

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Virtual Tour of EKA Lifestyle in Bengaluru!

With Diwali just around the corner, the timing could not be more perfect for a grand tour of this wonderful shopping destination called EKA Lifestyle based in Bengaluru! Also a number of my readers (based in Bengaluru) have repeatedly asked me to suggest a place to shop for brass artifacts and unique home decor accessories. This people is my answer to that question...... 

This is the one store that I make it a point to visit every time that I am in Bengaluru. A quaint little décor store, tucked off in the busy by-lanes of Ulsoor, that transports you to a whole different world the minute you step into it…..Infact, my association with Eka goes way back to my days when my husband and I we were setting up our first home in Bengaluru.

Eka was started 16 years ago and has grown to create a niche for itself with brass and décor enthusiasts. Kimiko Thakur Menzies is one of the partners at Eka and she very graciously let me share this wonderful store with you’ll. If you are looking to bring that instant air of decadent glamour to your home, then you are in the right place. Eka’s collection of brass artifacts and figurines is the most desirable, with beautiful detailing and great quality. I can tell you well in advance that you are going to have a hard time picking just one!

Every year at this time, Eka gears up for its annual event titled the “Lamps of Celebration”. It is a Diwali Promo event that boasts of exquisite collections, curated for this festive season such as hand painted clay diyas, ornamental brass lamps, bejeweled ranjolis, torans crafted from tissue and peals, decorative t-lights, runners and cushion covers in gorgeous cheerful colors and intricate brocade fabrics. A new introduction at Eka this year, is the ready-made Diwali hampers that are the perfect gift giving solution! If you make it there before the 31st of October, you can make the most of their ongoing festive offer that discounts divinity brass idols at 30%!

I’m going to let the images do the talking for me and I do hope you enjoyed this virtual tour and have it book marked as your new shopping destination for traditional brass artifacts. (FYI: Most of these images were shot on my March visit to Bengaluru this year. While the rest of the images were shared by the lovely Kimiko of Eka.)

Store Address:
EKA,
#19 Gangadhar Chetty Road,
Opposite RBANM's grounds,
Near Ulsoor lake,
Bengaluru - 560042.
Tel: +91 80 25544371, 25540876,  +91 98454 77648
(The store plans to launch their updated website soon. Until then direct all queries to their FB page or call them at the above numbers for products details and inquiries.) 

(Image Credit: # 2,4,7: Eka, #1,3,5,6,8 : Sruthi Singh)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lai's website has a new avatar and spotlight on their latest collection "Bidri X MCM" !

"Lai" the designer jewelry label (based out of India and California), designs and manufactures distinctive, culturally inspired collections of handcrafted silver jewelry. Their approach to design is adopted specifically keeping in mind the confident woman of today and her need to express her taste in culture, history and arts – through the jewelry that she chooses to adorn herself with. What’s even better is that shopping for these exquisite pieces, just got easier! Lai recently launched their refreshed e-commerce enabled website that integrates ease of navigation, stress-free checkout option pooled together with exceptional customer service that is second to none. 
What’s more is that they also recently launched their new collection titled Bidri X MCM. Puja Bhargava Kamath (Founder and Creative Head)​ of Lai has tapped into the minimalist sensibility of Mid Century Modern style and has created a signature collection by fusing it with the heritage metal crafting techniques of Bidri. Puja shares that this craft form involves a 4 step tedious process of mould making, melting the alloy and casting the article, engraving and inlaying the design and lastly oxidizing.
The exquisite monochrome pieces are a limited edition collection with only 29 pieces in the offering. Giving prominence to clean lines and geometric patterns, the collection speaks of unparalleled originality in design, style and flawless quality. The Bidri X MCM is a mix of bold cuffs, elegant necklaces, unique rings and earring and caters to aesthetic connoisseurs with an ultra- mod taste.
Lai was also picked to be on Conde' Nast Traveller India's list of “one of the top 50 Indian brands that "use traditional techniques and materials to create cool, contemporary fashion".” With that kind of validation, I say go grab your favorite piece before its gone!
I've featured Lai before and should you wish to read more about their other collections, click here, here and here. The Indian Jewelry project is another initiative that is very close to Puja's heart was first shared here on TECD. Click here to read the entire feature.   

Starting next week, we get into the area of hard core decorating for Diwali, so stay tuned.........

(Image Courtesy: Lai)