Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Green Lovers, Welcome


I met Madhavi Chandan who runs a plant boutique from her Koregaon Park residence. Her potted plants can be good gifts.
Following is the interview, which I did for a daily.


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From outside the walls, the garden looks ordinary — a swing, a few potted plants and a patch of grass. It’s only when you step into Madhavi Chandan’s tiny green space, you’ll wonder how she’s accommodated a whole lot of things — a bird house, a bird feeder, an artificial waterfall, ceramic swans, frog pavers and a cast iron stand full of plants, containers, ceramic and fabricated planters and fibre barks!
The answer’s simple: Space is never a constraint for her. Madhavi can work on the tiniest space and transform it into a beautiful garden.
That’s the whole idea — to make use of the smallest space! Not many people today can afford a big home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a green corner! Which is why I have come up with bottle and vertical gardens and so on,” says the owner of Naturecraft, a tastefully-decorated plant boutique.
Madhavi, who has always been fond of plants, decided to pursue a course in ‘Garden and Nursery Development’ after her green corner was featured in a newspaper. “My family said that I should capitalise on my potential. So after 15 years of marriage I joined Fergusson College to do a short course,” adds Madhavi, who has now graduated to landscaping. Landscaping takes up a lot of her time, but she is not ready to give up her first love: Bottled plants.
I prefer gifting family and friends bottled plants or plant bouquets because they last longer as compared to conventional flower bouquets, which lose their charm once the flowers wither. Bottled plants made of bamboo or ferns make perfect gifts because you need not water them daily,” she says and smiles. However, most people prefer exotic plants like anthuriums, petunias, poinsettias and gerberas. Orchids are the latest favourites, because the bottled plant lives for about three months.
As Madhavi deftly works on a fibre bark at her studio, she says, “I can make a plant bouquet in one hour or a week, depending on the theme. I always keep 40-50 designs ready, so I can attend to last-minute requests of my clients.” Her customised bouquets cost anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 50,000, depending on the client’s budget and the occasion — like bhai dooj, birthdays and anniversaries.
So what’s her favourite theme? We ask the ‘green lady’. “Honestly, I have no favourite theme, but I try to sneak in a toy bird in the decoration as often as possible. This way I try to raise awareness about ecology and the decreasing number of birds in the city. I also try to use coconut planters because they are eco-friendly and readily available,” Madhavi promptly replies.
On her travels abroad and within the country, she often comes back with coconut shells, planters, pots, quirky stands, animal designs, etc. “They all come in handy when I am designing a plant bouquet. Nothing goes waste,” says she and adds, “Some of the travel souvenirs also double up as garden artifacts.”
If you are interested in designing your own green space or attending her workshops on vertical gardening and bottled gardens, call Madhavi on 9371022100. But before you begin, read up about plants, keep innovating and most importantly, develop an eye for aesthetics.

Spreading festive warmth


Ratna Khurana makes candles alongwith her sister. I met Ratna at her house, where she was busy sorting out candles and packing them in gift boxes.
Following is the article I wrote on her.

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Immersed in work, Ratna Khurana busily gift-wraps the handcrafted assorted candles so that they reach her clients just in time for Diwali. Adept at candle making, Ratna has been exploring this art for more than a decade now, but it’s been just a year that she’s set
up shop.
Talking about her enterprise Candle N Beyond, which she started along with her sister Yogita Lal, Ratna says, “It’s just been one year since we got into the business. But, we have been making candles for 12 years now. I did a basic candle-making course, in
which I learnt how to heat and colour the wax.”
But what kept the duo going was their energy to explore and their passion to create exotic candles. Quips Ratna, “I was always inclined towards the art of candle making because candles are universally associated with festivities, serenity and worship. They
create a special warmth and ambience! And, of course they are affordable!”
What you appreciate most when you see their candles is the flawless finish.
It requires a lot of practice and passion to create each candle. But more importantly, what makes a beautifully-finished candle is the quality of the mould, wax and wick. And of course, we also have a few trade secrets for the mix and techniques of our candles,”
says Ratna with a smile.
Both the sisters are working hard to make their venture successful. But more precisely, Yogita is working as the creative head. “Yogita comes up with the design and then we execute the design, the mould and finally the candles. Designing, moulding and execution takes a lot of time.”
Candle N Beyond’s first products were fl oating candles, which Ratna says, take about 30 minutes to make. The big terracotta pots take up to 10 days. The prices also vary accordingly. Small floaters are available at Rs 10, while terracotta pots are sold for
Rs 2,500.
For festivals like Diwali, we have to prepare much in advance. It takes almost
eight months to get the special and unique candles ready,” adds Ratna.
This year, they are planning to introduce tealight candle holders, which are very much in vogue.
Candles are mostly associated with festivals like Diwali and Christmas, but they are getting increasingly popular.
We are seeing a big change in the demand. Candles are now being considered perfect gifts for weddings, anniversaries, housewarmings and birthdays. Also, a major chunk of our orders comes from clients who specialise in home d├ęcor, spas and hotels,”
says Ratna.
Another reason for its growth is that candles can be customised as per the client’s budget.
We get a lot of unique requests like ‘Ganesha’, which is not a candle but aromatic wax. It’s my favourite,” she says while flashing an infectious smile.
To brighten your home and order some festive candles this Diwali, call Ratna on 9665590909.