A labour of love- the story

The Poonchh Collection is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. With so many moving parts and so many points of interaction and departure…this collection was truly a labour of love. For anything else, I might have given up a long time ago. But then, like anything that has taken time, energy and effort…the satisfaction is huge 🙂

And with a huge part of the collection already sold out, I am happy to say that I will be able to help quite a few dogs 🙂

I want to share my journey with you.

It started as a small germ of an idea. What can I do to help? Write out a cheque? That would be a cop out and the easiest way to ‘give’ to a cause without actually doing any work. But, could my day actually afford time on the street as the team at www.strays.in were doing? No.

So the next step was to figure out a way to help in a method/ format only I could. What could I bring to the table? Paint? Auction a painting?

Easy enough. But not enough.

That is when a chance conversation with Rakesh  Shukla ( founder of The Voice of Stray Dogs) on how to make the Indian  Stray dog a hip and stylish statement, something to aspire to have…sparked an idea.  And the Poonchh Collection started to take shape for me. I wanted to do something colourful, new and in essence very much ‘me’ in design sensibilities.

I was very conscious that I did not want to use any heartbreaking or gut wrenching imagery in this collection. There is enough of that to see around us. I wanted to create something that would be a joy to behold and a feast for the eyes.  And as an artist, I also wanted to experiment and see in how many ways I could translate the concept into reality, while still not losing either commercial value, or artistic sensibility.

This collection also needed to be a conversation starter.  I want more people to ask /to question, to read about the stray dog. And hopefully in the future ‘opt to adopt‘.

To see the awareness campaign posters, please click here.
To see the animation video on Animal Birth Control, please click here.

Keeping costs, time and money in mind, I had to come up with creative ways to make this collection actually come to life. And without help from my husband Supreet Singh and my friends Reza and  Vinay Diddee, it would not have been possible.

I sat and cut, about 70 meters of fabric into 18 inch squares, to get them ready for screen printing. I waited patiently for samples to go back and forth between many vendors before quality and money could both be okay-ed.

The printing facility added to my woes, by NOT allowing women on the shop floor. This meant that, Supreet or Vinay, had to be present to get my work done.  Printing happened in three places and the cushions, cases, bags in different places by different karigars ( skilled workers). The material was bought in different lots, at different times and again from different places.

The hand dying was done in a dingy little attic in a lost lane in Bangalore. And the wooden blocks were hand carved by master craftsmen.

Reza and Supreet did the Photography in our make shift studio- my living room. That is Rafi in the following picture, I borrowed  his 13″ Mac Book for the shoot.

And my friends, Divya Chauhan and Meghna Vakada helped by being perfect models. Meghna, even opened up her home to me and plied me with endless cups of chai.

I DID NOT haggle over money with anyone for the making of this collection. I wanted to keep everyone happy and satisfied, so that the ‘vibe‘ attached to each piece was positive. It did not make sense to me, to try and negotiate over a few rupees here and there, and then talk of helping the stray dog by giving a bunch of money away. Every piece has been hand made and ‘sampled’. And NOT made on a factory floor. In fact most of it has been made by small shops that have 2-3 karigars only.

The gold bags have been hand painted and the thread work done by me.

Why? Because then I can truly say that ‘I’ helped the cause. Not by remote control but by my blood, sweat and tears. And trust me there has been a lot of all three in the making of this collection.

I have to say, I met some wonderful people over the course of the three days of this exhibition.  I also made a new friend in Kelly, a volunteer member of VoSD.

Thank you to everyone for making the Poonchh Collection a success.  I know both Rakesh and Kelly join me in saying thanks from the doggies.


7 thoughts on “A labour of love- the story

  1. Kelly says:

    My dear Aarohi,

    What else can I write other than THANKU.
    The dogs, which get treated because of your efforts will thanku forever.
    You are wonderful and I’m so glad we’ve met and hopefully meet on a regular chai chat 🙂

  2. craftisland says:

    Congrats Aarohi on your success.
    May god give you many such successes and many such occasions to feel satisfied and happy.
    I love your blog……though had not commented till now. Your Kitsch furniture has inspired me enough and I now want to paint one for my home (though I am not a painter at all but can put in efforts). Can you suggest which type of colours are good for wood (or board furniture)?

  3. Kakli says:

    Congratulations Aarohi! What an amazing effort ….sorry, we couldn’t make it to the exhibition as we were traveling, but I will contact you to see if some of these products are still available to buy.

  4. Gagan says:

    You know they say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think this post proves that it also takes a village to launch a collection. The energy is palpable even in the pictures you’ve shown here–thanks for sharing!

    Best of luck to you in all your endeavors.

  5. Divya@SHP says:

    This was a fantastic story to read Aarohi! Hats off to you for pulling this is off and I think your personal interest and involvement with the issue strongly came across in your emails. I hope every batch of the Poonch collection is a sell out!

  6. Sheetal Sharma says:

    Excellent and heartiest congratulations Aarohi……feels good to know someone who’s working for such a noble cause..keep up the good job..all the best for your future endevours…….

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