The possibilities of terracotta for costume jewelry were just about opening up when Remya began dabbling in the medium and opened her website “Prakriti Terracotta Jewellery” four years ago. Four years is quite a long time and the scenario has changed with terracotta danglers and chokers becoming the in-thing for fashionistas.
A yen for art
Right from childhood, Remya had a yen for art and craft. She was good at drawing too. But jewelry-making was something which had not crossed her mind. Nor did she have the expertise to craft one. The fact was that she never had the time to pause for creativity as more mundane matters like an MSc in Biotechnology, a job in Kinfra Technopark, marriage and children took over. Destiny was, however, lying in wait when Remya and family decided to relocate to her native Kozhikode.
Her gaze fell on a chain she happened to chance upon at an exhibition. Its image kept haunting her and on enquiry she got to know that it was made of terracotta. She got back home that very day with a packet of clay. She decided to make a chain and the claysmith began her work. As expected, it just crumbled there right before her. Not to be let down, she persisted. She made it and the chain broke again. The make and break game went on for quite some time till one fine day she did it!
An internet search came up with the revelation that quality clay could be sourced from Bengaluru. Things began to look up when Praseeth, Remya’s husband one day brought her the clay she had been longing for from Bengaluru, when he got back from one of his business trips.
Her hands began crafting her ideas and they clicked this time. A chain was made. By no means perfect, it set the tone for future designs and a successful venture. A picture posted on Facebook garnered more than 1,000 likes in a week and double the enquiries. Since then, “Prakriti” has grabbed more eyeballs than any other site which flaunts jewelry in terracotta!
Genesis of a business
Remya says she still cannot believe how much her first chain fetched her. From then on, it’s been a march to victory with design after design making waves and fetching her an income which she had never bargained for. There was time for nothing else. It was jewelry all the way. Many a time she got a few winks only late into the wee hours.
There’s never been an idle day in the last four years. There were days when bowing to demand, she had to craft two to three sets of chains and ear drops a day. The kitchen would be on holiday on such days and Remya would sit hunched at her desk, her heart and soul deep into her theme. Unbelievable as it may sound, there have been months which saw her income going up to Rs 3 lakh. Most of her pieces are sold abroad and the demand is always greater from customers overseas; not that they are any less popular in the state. She has a long list of overseas customers on her phone who keep contacting her regularly.
Remya sources purified clay, her basic raw material from Bengaluru. A lot of care, attention to minutiae and concentration are called for while crafting masterpieces like “Siva” which is why they are priced quite high. To begin with, her business was done via Facebook. But when the task of replying to enquiries and crafting the items began to take a toll of her time, the designer opened a website two years ago.
Color and design matters
You just have to place your orders or make enquiries through her website and Remya is sure to get back to you. Color choices and designs can be messaged to her. She even caters to made-to-order designs. Contemporary and traditional designs take more time and she loves to mix and match traditions. The Siva, Krishna, Naga and Kathakali, her exclusive items are thus painstakingly done. Her latest creation, the “Theyyam set” has become a huge hit. However, the demand is for black, gold and earthy tones.
“Since I love my job, my craft, I’ve not been troubled by boredom or weariness doing the same stuff over and over. Nor has satiety set in. I also know that any other job would not be as interesting and would not bring me as much returns as what I’m good at. It was just recently that I started designing silver jewelry and working on dresses and saris. I also occasionally engage classes in jewelry designing. I’m toying with the idea of opening an outlet exclusively for silver and terracotta jewelry,” says the designer.
Remya is quite aware of the fact that there are several others who copy her designs. But they have in no way affected her business. Perfection being her hallmark, Remya’s designs stand out for their exclusiveness and beauty. She’s never once crafted a piece in haste, another quality she is well known for.
Prakriti has jewels on offer which begin at Rs 100. Celebrities like Chitra Iyer, Aparna Nair and Kavitha and newsreaders are her constant customers. The positive side of her business is that she has now a long list of well-meaning friends and contacts from all over the world, especially from Belgium and the US, with whom she keeps up regular contact.
As for family matters, she is extremely happy that she has been of solid support to her husband in his plans for their dream home. Her young boys Ved and Vihaan are also very much into their mother’s business and chip in whenever possible.
Points to weigh up
Perfection is the factor. Practice makes perfect. You need to keep on trying till it comes out well. After all, we are our best tutors. Beads have to be rounded or shaped into the desired designs and sizes with the hands. Clay should be baked only after it is spread out to dry in the sun and all of the water content evaporates. Clay tends to crumble if it’s baked in the oven. The best way would be to bake it in a choola.
The price tag comes for the time, perfection and originality of design. Being a copycat is no smart way to do business. Success lies in crafting one’s own design and coming up with fresh ones. A gift for drawing is a sure blessing.
Terracotta jewelry is worth a try for those who love the raw feel of clay.