From being an architecture student to starting a sustainable small business online, Rashi Agarwal, founder of Roohani Rang, has a story worth sharing.
A 22-year-old girl with aspirations to uplift rural artisans, Rashi had big plans with her small business Roohani Rang. Starting an online small business selling sustainable handmade products with designs from local artisans across the country, especially from Rajasthan, was not an easy task. But with her constant hard work and motto to promote sustainability, she could do it. The Surat-based brand currently offers products crafted by rural artists and includes sustainable art, luxury stationery, and much more. Keep reading to know her story.
A thesis topic that turned into a small business
While studying architecture, Rashi had to do a thesis in her final year where she needed to study and research a specific topic and work on the same. She picked up ‘vernacular architecture and traditional art methods’ and found out a few traditional techniques of art were slowly dying, which intrigued her to save the essence of local art. “During the case studies, I found many artists who had these beautiful crafts and thus wanted to do something to promote them,” says Rashi.
The traditional art and craft seemed to decline, making Rashi more inclined to preserve the same. But being a student, she had a very tight budget. With no money to start a small venture and people not putting up hope in her passion, it all felt like a distant dream. But eventually, she did it. Roohani Rang currently possesses products like Calendars, journals, and diaries with traditional designs. The response over social media has been significant, and they receive orders from across the country! “Looking at the current scenario, I think we are making an impact, and it is very assuring, says Rashi.
What sets Roohani Rang apart
Most of the products by Roohani Rang give a modern twist to traditional art, which makes each product unique. Their designs feature Bandhani works, Gond Art, Warli art, and Madhubani with texts in Devanagri. “I’ve been a very creative person throughout my life, and was always drawn towards Indian art, how we made Rangoli, paint, decorate the house, and more.”, she adds while talking about where she found her inspiration for such a creative palette and designs.
Her collection is also pretty colourful and makes them pleasing to the eyes. There’s a soothing aesthetic appeal in each piece of art that Roohani Rang offers. “I always believe that I have a knack of getting the colours on point. It just happens and I think it’s also because of the designers we have on board. They share the same interest and are immensely talented”, she says.
Another USP that makes Roohani Rang a must-check is that it is all about sustainability. “Everything is handmade and promotes sustainability. For me, it was important because I believe being sustainable is about being less wasteful and very conscious about the things that you’re doing. And that’s what we do at Roohani Rang”, she further adds.
Bringing local artists on board
After starting Roohani Rang, Rashi got in touch with these artisans she had met or communicated with during her research. After convincing them, she got them on board and since then, she has been working with them. The artisans are from different parts of the country but most of them are from Rajasthan and Pondicherry.
“It’s sad that their work isn’t that popular and that people no longer relate to what they are making. That’s why the thought of combining contemporary art with traditional art forms and designs was the idea behind Roohani Rang. If you look closely at the logo there are two hands. It’s a collaboration between designers and these craftsmen because Roohani Rang as a brand believes that good design will really revive these artisans and the crowd”, explains Rashi.
The production cycle
Roohani Rang offers a range of stationery, including journals, notebooks, calendars, and planners. All these products are made of handmade paper and, unlike the popular myth, have a very long shelf life. The process of making them is also pretty long and requires a lot of hard work.
Making a single sheet of handmade paper is approximately a 30-day process altogether. The waste is recycled into a paper which is created into a pulp. There are large sheets that are created into it. Once they have the paper, there’s an even longer process of even binding it. “Sometimes the product may have irregularities that need to be looked at. At times the paper is made somewhere else, and the binding is done in another state. Even the covers are made somewhere else. So, it takes approximately 45 days to 60 days for a handmade product to be made”, says Rashi
In the coming year, Roohani Rang plans to bring a lot of fabrics, textiles, and ceramics. “We can continuously keep tapping on different graphs and artisans and create something new every year, there’s no stopping for us!”, Rashi signs off.
Check out our entire conversation with Rashi from Roohani Rang now!