Saturday, October 29 2016, 10:08:53
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Drishti Bodhraj Premprakashi

JWB Blogger

JWB Narrates Rashmi Singh’s Story, Who Learned The ‘Moya’ Art Of Business

  • JWB Post
  •  July 22, 2016


I probably sounded like a man on the phone to her, but in reality, I had just woken up and so my voice was rather raspy, lol. My phone call was to , an artist and the owner of Studio Moya, an online studio that sells products with regional artforms like Madhubani and Lal Paad.

Despite belonging to a middle class family with no idea about starting a business, she had a passion-fueling within her. After a lot of struggles, she emerged successful.

Rashmi, who would rather introduce herself as an artist rather than an entrepreneur told us more about Studio Moya which cured off my sleepiness.

Do you recollect the first experience of visiting a village for your venture, Moya?

Hmm, that’s a little tricky considering that I never travelled for the venture. The only reason I travelled to these villages was out of curiosity. I wanted to discover what work techniques they used.

What Terms and conditions do you share with your artists?

I have only one condition with my artists. I make them sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which whatever they sell to me cannot be sold to other individuals or organizations.

TBH, before this, I had absolutely no idea what an MOU was. Sigh! If I was only as skilled as Harvey Specter. 

Any art piece from Moya that you possess yourself?

*Laughs * I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that. But anyway, I own one of almost every product. Most of those have peacock motifs on them which are my favorite. They say that designers must not fall in love with their own designs, but here I am. *Sigh*

I might just buy a few of her rakhis. I mean, look at them!

How does Moya empower women?
Women form a majority of our employees mostly in the Madhubani cluster. I travel to their clusters and teach them how to be self-sustainable. There’s a small village which has a total of 150 women in its population and all of them are involved in our project.

Any story of an artist that you found inspiring and would like to share with us?

I think all of them are quite inspiring. It is surprising how much they can do without being educated or having any access to internet.

 I think we have a story for the next blog.

You deal with craftspeople from villages. What is the biggest struggle while working with them?

The hardest part I think is finding these clusters and training the craftspeople to work according to my requirements and perspective.

How did you fund your project?

For now, I fund the project myself. Whatever I earn, I put into the project be it through the sales of these products or through the government training workshops I conduct.

What struggles did you face shifting from art to entrepreneurship?

Everything, lol. It was hard for me to understand the whole business perspective, keep a check on my accounts, maintaining excel sheets and government documents you require for legalizing a business.

*Remembers math lessons * Overhead transmission.

In your business, networking means a lot. What is your formula of networking?

I have no formula. All that matters at this point is if my work is good and if my customers find it appealing.

How do you bridge the gap between artisans and the modern world of design?

I help them understand things from a contemporary perspective. I do that by showing them pictures. I also give them feedback on how they can make the product look more modern. Since times have changed, I think it is important to blend the old and new.

What plans do you have for expansion?

Right now we have a studio office where we function from and a website. We plan to start a concept store but we’re still looking for funds for that.

 Is your family a part of your venture?

My husband and I work together. He’s of great help since he’s a designer and a photographer. My parents though, were scared of the struggle of starting a business. They were not in favor at first but they’re okay with it now.

Any one work of art that makes you nostalgic about your childhood?

It has to be Madhubani. I grew up seeing Madhubani art around me. There are a few relatives of mine who would paint. Soon, I also started painting Madhubani myself.

Entrepreneurship is a job that goes on 24×7. How do you balance your family and work life?

I work the whole week, but I keep Sundays off. It’s easy to do so when you’re your own boss. I have a 5-year-old son who is both a stress giver and stress buster, so I spend my time playing with him on Sundays. I also believe that its better to complete everything on time, so you have enough time to give to yourself.

 Rashmi’s voice got all pitchy while she spoke about her son. Aww! Also, I hate myself for asking this question to her. There must be a fair division of responsibility for managing a household.

What is one place that you discovered which is worthy of being a travel destination?

There’s a place called Kalahasti where Kalankari art had originated. It is a hill station near Tirupati. Although it is quiet, I think it is worthy of being a travel destination.

As an artist, how do you spend your time while traveling?

Catch up on sleep * laughs *. I don’t get a lot of sleep because of work. I also suffer from motion sickness so I can’t read or write. The only option I have left is to sleep.

That is exactly how I spend my Sundays. Or at least, wish to.

Any regional art that you think that the majority of Indians are not aware of?

I think people are already aware of art. What they really need to be aware about is the technique involved in making a specific type of art and the people that do it.

If you had to get an art form tattooed on yourself, what would it be?

Oh god! I am completely against the thought of tattooing anything on myself. I don’t like needles.

 How about an airbrush tattoo then?

Uh, do I have to? Okay, I would get a Madhubani peacock.

 Quite the peacock enthusiast, are we?

Any incidents where you faced the wrath of patriarchy while visiting these villages?

There are a few Brahmins in these villages who are against letting women work. Many girls in these villages are married off at the age of 15. Now they’ve started waiting till she turns 18. But the day she turns 18, proposals start coming in. The people thought I was intruding when I started calling for women to work. It was very hard to convince them.

 Patriarchy, Y U make me want to punch you?

You must spend a lot of time with these craftspeople and their families. What is one skill that they taught you?

Patience *laughs *. The women that work for Moya have a lot of patience and stamina. I don’t know where they get it from.

The phone call went on for so long that my phone has started to heat up. However, we were totally bonding over the conversation.

I think I have a case of the peacock flu.

Anyway, you guys should check out Rashmi’s work on the Studio Moya website.

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