• helen0547

Handcrafting happiness, peace and beauty

Updated: Jul 21








In My Experience… Bhairavi Naik and Rohit Kulkarni, Founders, Curators of Clay










Highlights:

  • Bhairavi and Rohit started Curators of Clay to create beautiful ceramics by themselves and also as their aesthetic is a mix of both modern and traditional.

  • Their bespoke and niche brand does not consider itself necessarily Indian due to the influences they have had.

  • The duo wanted something that could both cheer people up and be a part of their households.

  • Despite the number of orders, they like to keep their operations small and niche as they don’t want to be mass-producing tableware like a factory.

  • Educating people on many fronts in very necessary as most don’t know the significance of handcrafted things.

  • The brand focusses on marketing through Instagram to be able to cater to a wider audience while also being able to engage with people on a one on one basis.

  • Indulge yourself in creating your brand, they advice budding entrepreneurs.

Our country is home to myriad art forms. However, not many of us actually take the trouble to find out and appreciate the effort of the people who create these things. Handcrafted goods have always held a special place in the country for centuries for their intricacy and their distinct aesthetic. As a result, a number of emerging luxury brands have started taking this route.


Curators of Clay is among them. The Pune-based studio, founded by Bhairavi Naik and Rohit Kulkarni, creates exquisite handcrafted bespoke ceramic tableware. In this interview, the founders discuss the significance of handcrafted luxury, the importance of being bespoke and some tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.


Excerpts:


Q: Can you take us through your journey of creating your brand Curators of Clay ?

A: We’re a studio that creates handcrafted pottery. We started it because we wanted to make beautiful ceramics ourselves. Everything else sort of followed. We follow the principle that we are in the pursuit of happiness, peace and beauty with clay being our medium of choice.


Another reason we started is that our aesthetic isn’t really Indian and is an amalgamation of various influences we’ve had. When we say we’re not really Indian, what we mean to say is that our designs don’t really fit into the mould of the traditional Indian aesthetic. We wanted to make something beautiful that could be a part of households.


Q: You are an artisanal brand, small yet luxury. Do you believe that in today’s scalable world keeping it limited is a necessary brand move for luxury businesses?



A: The problem we had at in the beginning was of scaling up. People asked us if we wanted to be the ‘Uber of ceramics’. It seemed like everyone assumed a startup had to be tech-based. We have struggled with the aspect of scale in the past three years. We’ve wanted to grow but we didn’t want to turn into a factory. Our brand will always be bespoke and niche. The struggle was to increase our value which is something we continue to grapple with. A lot of restaurants approach us for tableware but there’s only so much that a small team like ours can do and we want to keep it like that. Equating profits with the establishment’s size isn’t necessarily true.


Q: The brand originated understanding a gap in the Indian market. Was it a challenge to educate the consumers about the value of high-end tableware?

A: It’s still a challenge. When we started, we didn’t think we’d be able to cater to restaurants. We never thought they’d pick up on our price points as there is no difference in price points between a retail and restaurant customer. Everything is handmade and the cost cannot be brought down. If we do one plate or 50 plates, the amount of time, effort and skill is the same. We couldn’t really give them an economy of scale hence. We also thought that people would rather buy our pieces for their homes. Now, we’re thankful that our restaurant clients have indulged us and continue to do so.


There is a huge lack of awareness regarding what goes into creating handcrafted products. Our craftspeople have been shortchanged and we’ve sold our craft shoddily. In the past, crafts received patronage but now, no one really appreciates what goes into making something by hand. A lot more Indians need to be aware of this in an inherent manner. Education has to come from many fronts.


Q: How do you think the market/demand has evolved from when you started to now, when we are living in an Instagram and Pinterest inspired world.

A: We’re not on Pinterest because people would approach us with random designs from the site, asking us to recreate it, which got us down. On the contrary, Instagram has helped us a lot. A large part of our business comes from there. People are also very receptive on Instagram.


We used to be on Facebook but after a while we started focussing more on Instagram because it was more one-to-one. It became the best way to be noticed. We can literally say there are two audiences on Instagram. One, that is very engaged with everything they’re following, the other likes anything they see. Some of the feedback we get on Instagram is great too.


Q: What one thing would you give as a piece of advice to an entrepreneur wanting to get into the Luxury world today?


A: Being true to yourself and putting yourself out there. Never compromise on your quality and don’t take shortcuts because the path may be longer, but it will pay off. Luxury is an indulgence. When you approach your brand with an aim to earn a specific amount of money in a specific amount of time, I don’t think that is even luxury. Indulge yourself in creating your brand.


Curators of Clay has created tableware for some of the best restaurants in the country, including Masque in Mumbai. This brand has proven that exquisite handcrafted things will always find place in your home or a table.

To watch the whole conversation please click here to go to our YouTube channel where you'll find a number of 'In My Experience' interviews with equally inspiring and interesting Indian entrepreneurs.


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