“There lives a Maharani within each of us..
She is unique, She is one of a kind
She is shrouded by an aura of mystery, It follows her wherever she goes
It makes women whisper in each other’s ears, It makes men stop and stare
Maybe it’s in the secrets she safeguards, Maybe it’s in the flowers in her hair
She is unique, She is one of a kind
At Ek Dori it is a mission to appease the Maharani in you.
One of a kind products for the Maharani in you.
We make simple things special.”
These are the introductory lines on the Ek Dori website (www.ekdori.com) that deals in everything handmade, unique and Indian. For as long as Abhilasha Mehta, blogger, social media influencer and YouTuber, can remember, she nurtured this dream to own a space that she could call her own, a space that would be an outlet for her creativity, a place where she could be free and let her imagination run wild.
As a little girl, she would cut out images of beautiful stores and dream of someday owning one. Today, her brand Ek Dori which sells handmade and handcrafted apparel, stationery, jewellery, home decor items and accessories, is quite a rage on Etsy, a global marketplace for unique and creative handcrafted goods and products.
Since Etsy’s launch in India in July last year, it has conducted multiple workshops in different parts of the country to mobilise the creative community in India under #TheEtsyCollective series, of which Mehta has been a part of.
Here’s chatting her up:
How does it feel being on Etsy?
I have been an Etsy buyer for a very long time and have always admired the unique creativity that each seller brings to the platform. Etsy is a whole different community, filled with so much love and passion, spending time on the website is always a treat for all my senses.
Needless to say, I am very proud to be an Etsy seller and I feel honoured to be a part of #TheEtsyCollective that gave me a chance to share the story of my brand Ek Dori and my entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about Ek Dori and how the idea of establishing it came to you...
I always had a creative urge and an intense love affair with textiles. However, I never had the courage to give it a go. I was too scared of failure. Then one day, I heard the story of a young creative girl who was being abused at home because she was financially dependant. Her story and the story of many other creative girls with a willingness to learn, finally gave me the courage to start Ek Dori. I wanted it to be the platform that gave these girls an opportunity to learn new skills and use the same to make a living. So we teach a small group of girls embroidery and then they take work home to embellish and embroider Ek Dori garments.
Your brand deals in handmade products. Why is there a sudden demand for handmade products?
People are starting to understand the luxury of unique, one of a kind handmade products. Every sheep we embroider and every Frida we embellish on our sarees also has love, hopes and dreams embedded in it with every stitch. People do feel the love and realise just how special what they are wearing is and hence the demand.
Are you working with craftsmen and weavers for your brand?
Yes, we do work with weavers and craftsmen. We also train women in embroidery and embellishing techniques.
What makes Ek Dori stand out among the several other brands manufacturing and dealing in handmade clothes and accessories?
We deal directly with each hand through which our products pass. We have a strong connect with each individual that purchases and wears our garments. Everything we do, including the packaging is done by loving hands. We create unique pieces in very small quantities with a very high emphasis on quality. These are just a few things that make us stand out.
While Ek Dori is primarily homegrown, how do contemporise the clothes to suit the taste of modern women?
Some of our handloom sarees have embroidered sheep grazing all over them, some have inspiring quotes on them while others have lady bugs or retro polka dots on them. We always find a way to make handloom and traditional weaves more fun while adding tons of personality and pizazz to them.
What are some of the challenges that you face as a small scale business specialising in handmade stuff?
Since everything is handmade and done at various parts of the country, it is tough to churn out new products at a very fast pace.
As a blogger and influencer, how do you promote Indian handloom?
I have always loved handloom and handmade products. Even as a fashion blogger, I am always trying to showcase how handloom can be hip and cool — a saree with a belt and crop top or a traditional lehenga with boots and a shirt. Also helping people understand the story and journey of each product helps.People then start to relate with the products and the people behind the products. I try and tell that story as often as I can as a blogger.