“Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”
― Oscar Wilde
“Varnanggall” is doing just that- romanticizing the souls of many a customer with a beautiful sprinkle of colours that bring a smile to the faces of happy customers just by looking at the sheer fabric and the beautiful motifs that can bring almost any dull day to a stop. Yes, it can just brighten up your day.
An Indian art brand spreading the expression and good cheer of vibrant colors and beautiful Indian motif, Varnanggall – a start-up by Lavanyaa K R, a lady who had the courage to venture out of her warm cocoon in order to justify her desire, a desire to reflect her notion of art into a canvas that would change the dimensions of being beautiful for many!
Startoholics caught up with the lady behind the cheerful explosive art pieces for a small interview.
Could you shed light on your life before Varnanggall? What was your previous work?
I was working with IBM India Pvt Ltd for about 8 years dealing with strategic business/technology issues and getting to the bottom of it – status calls, escalations, production issues, customers and all that jazz!
What motivated this start-up?
From the period of being a kid I was very passionate about Indian art – bright colours, patterns and shapes. I grew up closely observing my dance teacher’s bright and vibrant attires. But in the due course like most of the others I did get subjected to various academic pressures and life styles where I had to gradually park aside the real passion and interests in me. Before I let it slip between the cracks it was time for me to act on! Well it took me 25 long years to recapitulate the real craving and the capping satisfaction in my life, and that’s when I found my true calling – “Varnanggall” to put my overriding obsession and energy into viable products and spread this visual art to a bigger community.
How did you take your first step towards Varnanggall? Did you receive any funding from angel investors?
Some of the massive factors to consider while erecting a start-up are market study, audience and promotion! First thing was to set up a platform – online vs. in store. With the confined investment in my kitty it was not feasible and practical to set up a store,so I opted to merchandise on Facebook to reach a wider range of audience globally! The next component was the kind of products – products that I find it difficult to find in the market! So why not just make it myself! And lastly my savings from the IT days were the angelic investors! As it was a start-up I invested just enough money (neither underfunded nor overfunded) to turn realistic ideas into products and run a scalable business model.
What differentiates Varnanggall from the rest?
This is my favourite question.
I’m definitely not going to explain the exteriors of my creations; I will leave it to the onlooker to differentiate Varnanggall from others!
Every creation that I make is given 100% attention right from the inception to the delivery and that’s why Varnanggall is not on a mass production spree or hooked onto a rat race!
Varnanggall is not a commercial business; it is a very small venture which purely runs based on deep devotion and commitment for art. The money that is paid by the customers is utilized to produce various unique creations back to them!! All the creations are handmade and home grown.
Hashing out all the customer needs/details and coming to an agreement has made this brand very customer friendly. It is strongly believed that colours can influence one’s psychological and emotional moods and Varnanggall is right on it!
What challenges have you faced in your entrepreneurial journey? What has been the toughest decision you had to make lately, if any?
I always dreamt of working for myself but it was just the timing that had to favour me and especially when I had bloomy days at work I used to question myself “what the hell am I doing in this place?” I think the toughest decision for me was to quit my IBM job. Beyond a point it was just impossible for me to balance my primary job and Varnanggall. There were days when me and the Varnanggall team spent sleepless nights over the weekends because of the time constraint I had.You know, think about getting a handful of money in an air conditioned environment to a situation where you don’t know if you are going to go under a loss, break even or make some profits and keep hunting for fabrics in areas which you have never been to even in your wildest dreams!
I feel that at end of the day it’s all 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.
Sourcing raw materials and finding the appropriate labour was one of the biggest challenges. I was always used to buying my clothes;accessories in some of the arty stores so never had the knowledge of fabrics, cost and the source. Unlike Mumbai, Calcutta and other cities Bangalore still lacks the pool of raw materials and labour required to make some of the unusual creations. It took me a while to research all the congested markets with really narrow roads and tiny footpaths in Bangalore, talk to the shop keeper(s) and build a rapport. Thanks to my Husband and sister who helped me in every step of my research and study.
Another delicate challenge was the mind-set of some of the customers, as they wouldn’t trust your work and the costs because you are the “new bee”. But they wouldn’t mind spending the same amount of money in a shopping mall or high end stores because it’s already established. Everyone started small one day and made it big, and how true is that!
What are your plans for promoting Varnanggall? Also, do you have any tie-ups?
Varnanggall is going to celebrate its first anniversary in October 2013 and to celebrate that I’m planning for a live exhibition of my creations in Bangalore. This is exclusively organised for my Varnanggall community in and around Bangalore!
Besides, I’m working with few artists/classical dancers to adore my creations, so that’s on the pipeline too! Varnanggall is also going to participate in some of the notable art exhibition(s) soon!
There are no tie-ups; it’s all the Varnanggall team!
Do you have a photographer who takes care of the Varnanggall page that shows the latest creations? (Because the pictures are amazing and so are the locations!)
Thank you for the compliment, the photographer is me! I strongly feel my pictures should talk to my brand – Classic, Ethnic, South Indian and still CHIC!
Any plans of opening a store or do you think that the online version is good enough?
That’s positively in the pipeline; I just need to figure out the logistics and other essentials. 70% of my customers are based abroad and they prefer to see the collections online, having said that it would be wrong to ignore the 30% as India is still not into an online shopping culture, they would physically want to check what they are buying. So, I might settle down for a facility with a workshop and a store for now, that way it will be great to catch up with my customers!
How many products have you sold in India and abroad till date?
Like I said earlier 70% of my products are sold abroad and 30% in India.
What more do you wish to include to take Varnanggall to the next level?
I sincerely thank all my customers, fans and supporters for all the love they have been showing to Varnanggall. You know in today’s world it’s all word of mouth, and your customers are an integral part of your brand’s promotion – they can either make it or break it!
So, I would definitely need this continued support and love from my Varnanggall community to keep this brand going and the one it’s going to become.
Finally, what advice would you like to give to other young entrepreneurs?
Focus on your goals and interests; don’t get into the game of competition, fame, popularity at the very initial stage. They will follow as you keep showing your good work, see things beyond your nose and stay grounded.
Life is too short not to feel this good..!!! So Come on in and explore the exclusive and alluring “VARNANGGALL”! – Lavanyaa K.R.
And that was what we did -brought you closer to a bouquet of colours awaiting you to smell the fragrance of a brighter existence! The person behind this start-up definitely needs an applause for making the decision that changed not only her life but is also changing the wardrobes of many women all over the globe.