Unless you have a creative flair, you can’t pursue elocution, theatre and Latin dance (both as a performer and as a teacher). And Irisha Poonawalla has loads of it. A qualified journalist, Poonawalla always had a fondness for design and fashion, which made her kickstart Irisha Originals. Talking about the inspiration behind it, she says, “When I was eight years old I named my design doodles’ diary ‘Irisha Originals’.” After 23 years, her dream came to fruition.
Poonawalla says she named her startup Irisha Originals which happened rather organically. “There’s so much latent talent in every region of our country and my travels have allowed me the opportunity to not just marvel at our traditional arts but also to encourage them,” says the youngster who enjoys travelling and photography. With sustainability being the need of the hour, Irisha Originals combines artisanal talents along with ethical consumerism. She adds that the startup doesn’t just want to make aesthetically pleasing products, but also want to send out a responsible message to the world.
“Our startup is all about aiding artisanal and artistic endeavours by working with skilled artisans and NGOs,” explains Poonawalla adding that they strive to make conscious choices in all their products and processes so that they can not only empower the underprivileged but also themselves, by keeping handicrafts alive and being kinder to the planet. At Irisha Originals, they design, create and curate clothing, accessories and home décor, and also upcycle and believe in minimal waste. Giving an example, Poonawalla points out that they make statement necklaces from aluminium bolts and even re-purposed wood.
“Our products include handmade necklaces, natural fabric scarves, stoles and shawls from across India, artisanal ceramics, trendy macramé jute handbags, breathable bodycon tops with hand-sewn beadwork, sturdy linen cushion covers with quirky and contemporary designs and a lot more,” she says.
Elaborating on the process that goes behind the making of the various products and the smooth functioning of the startup, Poonawalla says that she works hand in hand with the various artisans across India, local NGOs and speciality makers. “I also handpick fabrics, ceramics, etc from all over India, emphasising on small scale weavers and kaarigars,” she says adding that they are happy to get a platform and a market for their work so that they can earn a decent livelihood.
Talking about the challenges, Poonawalla recalls, “In the four months of Irisha Original’s existence, there was an instance when we gave a product the platform but soon after it got ‘popular’, the makers did not want us to be involved anymore.” She says that such incidents are learning experiences and adds that they make her more aware and not any less enthusiastic.
Irisha Originals has a number of products right from handmade necklaces to pure cotton and linen scarves starting from Rs 475 and onwards, to silk shawls from Sikkim and Bhutan starting at Rs 1,500 onwards. More products likes stationery and organic cotton tops are coming soon.
All the products can be bought on Facebook and Instagram by simply dropping them a text. Poonawalla also points out that they are now looking into shipping worldwide.