A launch almost
Even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues with its multiple waves, I look back at the year gone by to derive strength and inspiration.
Back then, in December 2019, Aranyani had just unfurled its wings to take an ambitious flight. The only luxury handbag brand from India was landing on American shores with high aspirations born out of complete confidence in the product quality. The collection had been inspired by the royal Rajasthani palaces along the oldest mountain range in India - Aravalli. Aravalli travelled to New York in December and received appreciation and widespread interest at the special pop-up event held at The Core Club. Even as the Aranyani flight taxied for take-off, Covid-19 landed!
It became amply clear that the celebratory launch, for which months of detailed planning and efforts had been put in, would have to be aborted. As we travelled back home and locked ourselves in, I cannot deny that I was extremely disappointed and heartbroken.
‘Aranyani’ is the Indian goddess of the forests and she blessed us with faith, patience and resilience. If we couldn’t travel physically to the USA, we would do it virtually. We worked and developed an aesthetic and fully functional website and coordinated continuously with our team from California. We reached out to key editors and stylists in the United States via innovative atelier tours conducted virtually, possibly for the first time ever by a brand. We received a lot of positive coverage in America, sitting in our homes in Bengaluru!
Our local team underwent intensive computer and IT training at company cost, upskilling and bracing themselves to the increased virtuality of the world. The craftsmen intensified their focus and thirst for excellence, creating products which, I dare say, match the best leather bag brand in the world in quality. This was possible even at a time when there was large scale displacement of people in India because Aranyani provided free accommodation to all the craftsmen right beside the atelier.
We abided by all the instructions that the government issued at regular intervals. Though we had to completely shut down everything for months, we ensured that there were no pay cuts for any craftsman. Instead, Aranyani insured their health and provided them with the produce from its bountiful orchards. Though no revenues or profits were generated, the gratitude evoked was humbling. We realized that our biggest investment was in our human capital and that had to be nurtured at any cost.
An inspired collection
The whole experience provided inspiration for the 2021 collection - Fluidity. Fluidity is by definition a dichotomy. It can mean the state of flowing easily or the state of being unsettled! But then, to be able to flow easily, one needs to go through unsettling times. The unsettling energy of a pandemic offered opportunities for creative vigour. The imposed confinement of the quarantine led to the blossoming of a tranquil solitude.
In May 2020, Aranyani is gearing to fly again. This time, it looks to win the hearts not just in America but in the Indian subcontinent as well. Though Covid challenges us with its waves, our beliefs and the SAI philosophy act as our surfboards to ride on these waves.
We know that It is not a time for rigidity. It is the time for ‘Fluidity’ !