Lavanyaa is a perfect example of a strong woman who knows what she wants, what her dreams are and how to make them come true. Leaving behind the stereotypical conceptions and a high paying corporate job at IBM, she dared to move forward to create Varnanggall, the stage where colours, creativity and art meets. An exemplary showcase for Indian Art, Varnanggall is Lavanyaa’s dream come true. Based out in London, she has built a platform for Indian Arts globally, that will show potential of Indian crafts, arts, textiles and rich heritage that Indian weavers and artisans possess.
Your Fashion Story catches up with Lavanyaa to know about her journey from IBM to Varnanggall.
YFS: When and how did you start Varnanggall? Did anyone help you?
Lavanyaa: Varnanggall was started during the latter half of year 2012, but it was made completely serviceable only during October 2012.
I had an ‘idea’ and wanted to turn that into a business – which creates distinctive products that
bring in the shine and metamorphosis in people. I always dreamt of working for myself and was persistent enough in not quitting my dream. I had to park aside my childhood passion as I got subjected to academic pressures, but eventually it reached a point to follow my true calling, start something that comforted me and was worthwhile to function!
Eventually some of the massive factors like time, finances and moral support to start my own venture fell in place. I chose clothes because they are an extension to one’s personality and mainly Indian clothing because I feel it has so much of rich heritage and antiquity to talk to. Look at our weavers, artisans – incredible isn’t? It feels so outlandish not to flip over this actuality called ‘Indian Art’.
YFS: While taking decision of leaving job and becoming an entrepreneur, how was the response from people?
Lavanyaa: Well, there were mixed reactions. You have some well-wishers and some back seat drivers too, but you just want to carry the positives and move on with your creative enterprise. Thanks to a gorgeous support system called ‘Family’, who have always been supportive in every venture and step of Varnanggall, right from the inception to its current functionality? I’m always embraced by their love and positive energy!
YFS: What is the biggest risk you have taken?
Lavanyaa: I think the most daring and toughest decision for me was to quit my IBM job. Beyond a point it was just impossible for
me balance my primary job and Varnanggall. I did give it a year to study my market alongside the IBM job and eventually quit IBM. Things weren’t hunky dory and there was absolutely no symmetry – From leading a queen’s life financially and professionally to a very uncertain situation in terms of finances/security and furthermore keep hunting for fabrics/artists in very remote areas that could easily tamper your health! I still hold my engineering degree/certificate/experiences and could go back to the IT profession anytime, but my passion for art has definitely superseded it. I feel end of the day it’s about burning bridges to reach your goal. Thanks to my experiences/exposures at IBM for teaching me how to be on my own feet and inducing the professional character.
Lavanyaa: The Varnanggall product range includes handcrafted clothing, home décor and accessories The clothing line comprises of Sarees, Dupattas, Stoles and Langa Dhawanis for the little lovelies, home décor line compromises of Cushion Covers and Placemats on a customized order basis and the third segment which is accessories – bags, clutches and also jewelry (not hand made by Varnanggall). I mostly use handloom cotton and cotton silk (80%- cotton, 20% – silk) from Mangalagiri, Venkatagiri, Chettinadu, Sungudi with loads of adornments like brocades, traditional borders, kalamkari, block prints, lambani mirror and thread work. I extensively use the lovely Ilkal and Khana fabrics that are sourced from the weavers of Karnataka.
YFS: Do you have someone to help in making your designs alive?
Lavanyaa: It’s been a challenging journey so far because nothing is ingrained in this creative space. It’s a whole team effort be it artists, weavers or a group of seamstress! A house divided amongst itself will not stand, so we all together induce life and energy into Varnanggall creations.
YFS: How can your readers buy?
Lavanyaa: I merchandise all my creations online via my Facebook page “VARNANGGALL”. Those who are interested can buy from my online exhibition by dropping an email to me – firstname.lastname@example.org and can browse through my creations on https://www.facebook.com/lavanyaakr
YFS: Any message for budding entrepreneur?
Lavanyaa: A self-made entrepreneur is someone who turns his/her passion into
a business, someone who invests in himself/herself and creates a competitive advantage, dreams big, has vision, stays focused on the goals/objectives, someone who can dirty his/her hands and someone who can see things beyond their nose and stay grounded. You need to have good amount of determination, persistence and a winning attitude until your venture finds its feet. You definitely have to be strong , follow your heart and be surrounded by loads and loads of positive energy, some people will love to pull you down and show disrespect to what you do but hey just hold your horses and keep your chin up. And lastly your business has to create distinctive products that bring in the shine and metamorphosis in people, otherwise it’s pointless!
Story credits – Ankita Bhalani