Lavanyaa K. R. is the Founder and Creative Designer of London based Varnanggall, an art brand spreading the expression and good cheer of vibrant colors and beautiful Indian motifs. Varnanggall creations are sold online through Facebook. Contact “varnanggall AT gmail DOT com” to purchase/view more images and to get more details on Varnanggall products.
Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself?
Thank you for providing this opportunity Stephen. Well, I’m an entrepreneur, a designer, a great homemaker, a big foodie and a coffee lover! I did my Bachelors in Industrial Engineering and worked for IBM India for about eight years before Varnanggall. Bright colors, patterns and shapes have fascinated me ever since my childhood and I solely believe in creating art that reflects me, my ideology and principles of nature – they may not be fancy but it definitely is “real”. I demand liberty around me as I work the best when I’m not fenced. My pursuit for knowledge and information burns the midnight oil, with definitely oodles of coffee (smiles). I love to travel; explore the globe with endless possibilities and be aquatinted with different geographies. I long for variety be it food, clothes or cultures! My jovial and good humoured nature has surely fetched me good friends for life. I prefer leading a simple and grounded life; enjoy watching the majestic ocean and the rippling river, in solitude.
What is Varnanggall all about?
Varnanggall is a dream to paint the whole world with my colors of Indian art, an obsession to spread this visual art to a bigger community via viable products. It is a very small venture which purely runs based on deep devotion and commitment for art. Varnanggall product range includes handcrafted clothing, home decor and accessories. It works with the unnoticed rural heroes of Kalamkari, Lambani, Ilkal and the weavers of most part of Southern India – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. They are the “real treasures” of the Varnanggall fraternity and there is sense of isolation without these precious people. The proceeds of the business are utilized to produce various unique creations back to the customers and also some portion to the artists that definitely adds a chuckle on their face!! All the creations are handmade and home grown with 100% love and attention! It’s rejoicing to see how this venture has developed, thrived and gained prominent visibility with respect to quality, design, and customers love within a year of its existence.
So what inspired to become an entrepreneur and why the fashion industry?
I had an “idea” and wanted to turn that into a business – which creates distinctive products that bring in the shine and metamorphosis in people. Well, I always dreamt of working for myself and was persistent enough in not quitting my dream. I had to park aside my childhood passion as I got subjected to academic pressures, but eventually it reached a point to follow my true calling, start something that comforted and me and was worthwhile to function! Eventually some of the massive factors like time, finances and moral support to start my own venture fell in place. I chose clothes because they are an extension to one’s personality and mainly Indian clothing because I feel it has so much of rich heritage and antiquity to talk to, look at our weavers, artisans – incredible isn’t? It feels so outlandish not to flip over this actuality called “Indian Art”.
In India and some parts of the globe, it’s getting clichéd to see Kanjeevarams as the “only” south Indian traditional wear, and that’s when I chose to go ahead with the South Indian genre to introduce more forms of South Indian fabrics.
What’s next for Varnanggall?
Keeping in mind some of the cardinal conditions I definitely foresee making this whole business model organic and contemporary: Teaming up with various rural artisans, expansion of workforce – setting up an all women community in the rural areas of Southern India to augment the handmade art and also provide scope for employment. Working with the weavers and the co-operative societies on more distinct and modernistic approaches to textile transformation, continued customer satisfaction by providing diversity and bringing to them high choice of products and services.
Talk to us about your family.
I was born into a classic South Indian family in Bangalore, India. My father was an engineer at Indian Space Research Organization and my mother, a home maker, my younger sister has always been my soul connection- she’s got the wit to brighten my darkest day. My husband works for NTT Data UK Ltd as an IT professional, we’ve been married for two years now and looking forward for the entire contract of togetherness! We currently live in London, UK. My parental influences/values and my partners love has kept me sincere, responsible, honest and grounded. My family is my primary motivation to function every day; it’s gorgeous to get nurtured by their bona fide love and compassion.
What are your leisure time activities?
I really look forward to my free time and when I get hold of it – I love to play a bit with my baking tools; photograph markets, streets, architecture, people and food; visit flea markets and food festivals; collect artwork from galleries, antique stores and charity shops; Pottery – create earthenware via hand building technique(s), and to top the list spend some qualitative time with my family.