10 Creative Companies From Chennai You’d Want To Work At

10 Creative Companies From Chennai You’d Want To Work At

The spirit of innovation burns bright in Chennai; while we’ve been looking to bigger metro cities to fill in market gaps for urban customer bases, here’s a city that has slowly and steadily been working towards filling these in with their own start-up organisations, all of which are on a dedicated quest to find their true north.

From design companies with exquisite detail to each step of the process, to home-delivered gourmet food, to the iconic independent publishing house Tara Books, the inventory is impressive, refreshing, and sprawling in range. The one recurring theme we noticed among the creative companies? They’re all fuelled by that hot, Madrasi filter coffee we all love.

See for yourself:

I. The Artist Project: A Creativist Conglomerate

On her travels while studying architecture, 24-year-old Abhinaya Rangarajan was inspired to create an online portal that could showcase the work and stories of the various talented artisans she came across in certain remote corners of the country, with little to no connectivity.

“A vast majority of these artists don’t have the inclination or the means to promote their works on social media or at tourist outlets, and it’s precisely the works of these kinds of artists that I hope to put in the spotlight with The Artist project,” Rangarajan says.

“I’m quite happy to say that the platform gone on to become exactly that!”

On what makes his company special

“It does not just inform you of an artist, but gives a glimpse into what goes into their work, and how their lives imbibe the special skill-set they possess.”

The Backdrop

Abhinaya Rangarajan is currently working as an architect at Sidharth Ninan Architecture. As a recent graduate, she is just as curious about exploring the fields of product design and the fine arts, as she is about architecture. The world of handicrafts, and the culture that surrounds it, emerged a natural convergence point of both her interests, and that’s what she subsequently started spending a lot of his time on.

What became fairly obvious over the course of all her travels was that the standards and the interplay of the form function dynamics incorporated by the different artists in their work is so unique, that it deserves exposure to an audience and a market much bigger than their current limited customer base.

On the most important lesson he’s learned while running the company

“I learnt just how different the culture of doing business between the various artists hailing from different regions is. In general, with The Artist Project, each day is a learning experience.”

On a typical day in the office

“A typical day at work involves a bunch of us taking turns at quality checking the stock, sourcing and coordinating with artists, dealing with the existing clientele etc. — all this, with music perennially blaring out of the speakers and an unlimited supply of chocolate.”

On the company’s favourite place to order lunch from

“Brunch (a small chaat shop) at TTK road.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“A beaver — constantly building things (even under harsh, oppressive environments). If it had to be a person that I’d choose as an ambassador for TAP, it would be Kalki Koechlin.”

[Follow The Artist Project onFacebook & Instagram]

II. HAZEL: Dedication, Design Focus, Cool

28-year-old Gokulraj GK first dipped his toes in the stationery industry with his investment in MyCopie, a notebook brand retailing across South India to college students, and after working on that for two years, he came to an important realisation: the premium and luxury stationery industry is being sorely underserved with products that don’t emulate the ego of the user, and that Indian players couldn’t provide competition to the ones from abroad. With their expertise in stationary and design, Gokulraj GK and his team decided to launch a series of stationery for this market, starting off with hiring a product designer in 2015 to head the brand.

“We focused on the nature of the user, his / her use pattern of a journal, how to improve their mood while they use our product and how to make them more productive,” he explains. After selling out their first series (launched in August, 2016) in India and abroad within the first few months flat, the team is now in the process of launching their second series of journals, targeting CEO’s, artists and travellers.

On what makes his company special

“Our approach to designing a product from the user’s perspective, a team that’s focused on delivering the best, and limited edition products. The research that we put into selecting the materials, paper and the content layout, is also what has made us unique. At HAZEL, we make sure none of our series will be the same; each series is different with respect to materials, content and the overall value.”

The Backdrop

After acquiring a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from SRM University, Chennai, and a Master’s in Engineering Management from University of Texas, he started his first start-up the weekend after he graduated in 2011, with his friend and colleague from college.

ZAPstore.com was a unique eCommerce venture which launched December, 2011, and after raising a couple of rounds of funding, they had to sell the venture within a year due to conflict between the co-founders.

During his tenure in ZAPstore.com, Gokulraj used to head Marketing, and over the course of the campaign, he went on to meet a lot of college students in India. This led to him coming across MyCopie, which was doing interesting stuff with notebooks for college students, and with some research, he realised that the stationery industry has been the same for ages, whereas the users have changed and evolved. He invested in MyCopie, eventually became the CEO, and thus started his journey in the stationery industry in 2013.

On his other interests

“I love racing, and I follow Formula 1 and Moto GP. I am an automobile fanatic and I keep myself updated about the happenings in market whenever I can. I just love things on wheels!”

On the most important lesson he has learned while running the company

“Market Research plays a huge role in making a product a success. That has helped us become what we are right now. Without the time and resource that we spent on Market Research, we wouldn’t have achieved the level of success that we have.”

On a typical day in the office

“Meet with the Sales Team on the daily goals, meet with the design team on where we are at with the new products and marketing… I work closely with the marketing team, and I spend the rest of the day doing daily financial and admin duties, but spend a majority of the time researching on new products and brands with whom we can work.”

On the company’s favourite place to order lunch from

“Wang’s Kitchen.”

One unanimously-loved snack in the office

“Little Hearts.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“It would be person who is professional at work during the day, and parties like it’s the last day at night.”

[Follow HAZEL on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram]

III. Arture: Fun, Minimal, Eco-friendly, Animal-lovers

25-year-old Keshsa Vasant hails from a family of entrepreneurs, and she admits that ‘starting and running something of her own’ is something she has always wanted. After graduating from a college in the US, she went on to start her own venture, Arture, which has grown to become known as a premium, vegan accessory brand in the country, with a special focus on quality.

Blessed with her family’s support and guidance along the way, it was during her post-graduation sabbatical that her friend Shivani and her re-connected after several years. While Keshsa was on the hunt for something that would make her feel excited about getting out of bed every morning, Shivani was in search of starting something that she could proudly call her own. The two combined Keshsa’s marketing skills with Shivani’s designer background, threw in a handful of their adoration for animals - and thus, Arture was born.

“We were looking out for options that would be as durable and sustainable as leather, but would be a good alternative,” she explains. “This is when Shivani, during one her international trips, found cork fabrics. Both of us fell in love with the material instantly. We have had tremendous growth since we started; we are currently retailing through 15 stores in India and abroad, and we also have our own e-commerce portal. The acceptance and appreciation we’ve received has been overwhelming; so many of our customers came back to us, while others recommended us to their near and dear ones.”

On what makes her company special

“Our style, design and aesthetic is something that defines Arture. What makes it even more special is the fact that we use one of the most eco-friendly material, with some really wonderful benefits.”

The Backdrop

Keshsa’s professional background has always been marketing, with her experience including working with companies such as Dow Jones, Advanced Energy and Crocs in the US; Ashok Leyland and R K Swamy BBDO in India.”

On her other interests

“I enjoy playing chess, scrapbooking, gardening and travelling. I also love anything to do with animals. I find joy in helping and teaching the old, teaching children and reading to the blind.”

On the most important lesson she’s learned while running the company

“One of the most important lessons we’ve learnt is that it’s very important to believe in your vision, and to be confident about it. Being young, it is easy for people try to to sway our thoughts and ideas. While the earlier days offered a lot of exciting opportunities, all of which we wanted to take up, we have now learnt to evaluate the pros and cons of the opportunity in detail, get a lot of information, and see if it is worth the investment for the future. We have learnt that if you think it’s not working out, it is okay to say no.

“In short, choose your steps carefully, because while it is easy to take a step sometimes, it could end up spoiling a lot of things. When an opportunity comes your way, just keep your eyes and ears open.”

On a typical day in the office

“Each day is different for us; I don’t remember two similar days in the past one year. Shivani, being the morning person, starts her day early, while I, being the night owl, work later in the nights. We work from our office about three days a week, and try to meet at a coffee shop or elsewhere, once a week.

“We meet with a lot of people and draw inspiration from the smallest things. We have had some days when we have worked in our PJs, and others, when we are all formally dressed. Each morning, Shivani and I put down an agenda for the day, and work towards achieving it. Our days are long, but they are casual at the same time; they’re never boring, they include meeting people, shipping online orders, shipping accessories to retailers and a lot of strategic planning and decision-making.”

On the company’s favourite place to order lunch from

“We are always up for Chinese or Subway. We also don’t mind home-cooked food.”

On the one unanimously-loved snack in office

“Chocolate cake or ice cream.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“Our company mascot would be a giraffe; it is a cute animal and, at the same time, quite elegant. Being a vegetarian, it goes with our brand story.”

[Follow Arture’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Website]

IV. Postbox: Indian. Contemporary. Nostalgic.

23-year-old Madhuvanthi Senthil Kumar launched Postbox immediately after her undergrad in Fashion Design from NAFA, Singapore, with 26-year-old Nikhil Joseph, who was working at Facebook at the time. Having graduated from at NAFA in 2014, she used to be asked multiple times about the ‘top fashion houses’ she had worked with, and while she had had stints at Vogue Italia and WGSN and thought that was great experience, she was looking around for platforms that could take in upcoming talent and really put it out there.

“A lot of us designers were sitting in our own little shells partly because we felt we needed validation,”she shares. That’s when she met Nikhil Joseph (the other partner, heading Marketing & Operations) who was was an aspiring documentary photographer himself, and suggested they take the idea online.

“Postbox was launched in Sept, 2014, as a platform with 6 products for upcoming artists and designers in the country. With every collaboration, we chose to introduce a different type of work that designers and artists are capable of,” Madhuvanthi says.

In May 2015, they realised there was a need for great product design at a much more accessible level. While Madhuvanthi was in Milan at the time for her Masters from Istituto Marangoni, Nikhil was back in India, travelling through the country, meeting artists, artisans and visiting different stores. “We felt either this product design space was either too expensive and aspirational, or too ‘marketplace’-ish, if we may,” she explains. “That’s when, as a brand, we pivoted to becoming a product design company that focused on material usage with contemporary relevance. Working with travel essentials, homeware and home decor — there’s been no looking back.”

On what makes their company special

“Our narration of materials, and how each product comes into being; the journey it goes through is a story we engage our community of people with. As a brand, we place importance on helping our customers know and understand what they’re buying, in terms of its design, and not just specifications.”

The Backdrop

While Madhuvanthi is a poet by heart and a photographer by social media, getting to know different cultures plays a critical role in the very essence of who she is — coupled, especially, with her quest for the best bar where she can be slouched over a few cocktails and a Rumi volume.

Nikhil Joseph, on the other hand, is a culinary enthusiast who turns to bourbon-based mixology over the weekend, and who took to the camera as a documentary artist very early on; he still continues to practise photography. He has worked with Facebook India for three years with the Ads Policies & Fraud team.

On the most important lesson they’ve learned while running the company

“That scale is a subjective term. The scale (or parameter) for designing new products is different from that which would be considered while launching new products, and it’s important to have clarity on this, especially when you’re a design-focused company.”

On a typical day in the office

“With thirteen of us, it’s a pretty small, but crazy, bunch. The design team is bent over their boards of fresh concepts, interacting with at least one vendor/master craftsman, and understanding how they can simplify the process further.

“Tracks from Mogwai / Petit Biscuit / Explosions in the Sky are a constant, as our Nair would walk in multiple times to serve us all hot filter coffee and tea. The marketing team will be crunching the numbers, the packaging, and QC team would be at it with their assembly line, getting over 70 packages out per day. Every now and then, there’ll be that familiar Skype call ring. There could also be the possible entrance of a fresh prototype straight out of the workshop or factory, and we’d all call dibs on it immediately!”

On everybody’s favourite place to order lunch from

“We are true Swiggy loyalists. Iconic to Madras is a small Kerala restaurant called Kalapaka, which is tucked away behind the cultural hub of Mylapore in this city. They make their own spices from scratch, and are a classic example of how you can sustain yourself for years so beautifully, even by remaining small. It’s cute.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“It’s the filter coffee. Not because we are ‘made in Madras’ but because the filter coffee is an excellent example of how tradition and modern-day relevance can be blended in so seamlessly.”

V. ORDOOK: Cooking made fun!

Co-founders Anush Rajasekaran (24), Harshitha Ravi (23) and Abishek Chandrasekaran (24), after some market research, noticed that there was a market in India for the concept of a DIY meal, which has been gaining rapid popularity all over the world. All three of them, being food enthusiasts, always wanted to start something of their own, and realised the perfect way to do it together.

On what makes their company special

“Fresh gourmet food made available at your doorstep.”

The Backdrop

While Anush has a Masters from London and was working with RK SWAMY BBDO Advertising before this, Harshitha is ex-KPMG and EY, and both have a huge weakness for sports, music and food. Abishek has worked in data analytics, with some experience in digital marketing, and is the perfect third musketeer, given his love for cooking.

On the most important lesson they’ve learned while running the company

“Our customers and our employees are everything. You are who you are, because of them.”

On a typical day in the office

“Since we have been bootstrapped for over 9 months now, we handle everything by ourselves including the deliveries. Our day usually starts by 6.30am doing the morning rounds of deliveries, post which we test recipes on an everyday basis, work on marketing plans, attend meetings, do photoshoots of the food we cook, and then head out for the evening deliveries by, say, post-6.30 pm again. If at all we have any energy left, we go socialize!

On everybody’s favourite place to order lunch from

“Nothing like South Indian food from Sangeetha’s, followed by filter coffee.”

VI. ROIA: Organic, Niche and Conceptual.

25-year-old Rohita Vee is an engineer turned jewellery designer/metalsmith, who switched career a bit later in life and describes the experience as ‘quite a journey’.

ROIA, as a label, was born in London, its name — comprising of letter from her own — derived from the Persian ‘dream’ or ‘vision’. When she started ROIA , she realized that not many designers in India design jewellery for nose piercings, especially when it is the second most common piercing in India. “I felt that the potential was untapped, and started to design and include nosepins in my collections, she says. “Though I design every type of jewellery, nosepins just became my signature. I owe the growth of my label to that. People now recommend ROIA if someone is looking for something really unique to adorn their nose , which is the biggest compliment I could ever wish for.”

ROIA jewellery is currently being sold at MAAL GAADI , Chennai, TIMRI, Bangalore, as well as in Mumbai & Goa. You can find it online here, here & here.

On what makes her company special

“Every piece of jewellery is distinct, and every piece carries a story.”

The Backdrop

Rohita got into jewellery-making as a hobby when she was obtaining her degree in electronics and communication during her Engineering course, and started making a lot of costume jewellery at the time, learning on the go. “Growing up I was always drawn to creativity, and telling a story through an expressive form and jewellery just happened to be the medium,” she says.

“Having loved fashion for most of my life, I wanted to create a different way for women to adorn themselves. So I decided to take up jewellery-making seriously, applied to a school in London, and underwent professional training in jewellery making and designing. I am trained in ten different mediums of jewellery, and I chose metal as my medium of jewellery because of its ability to morph. I used my passion as a foundation to start a business of my own.”

On the most important lesson she has learned while running the company

“Being an entrepreneur means constantly growing and learning. I have learnt to welcome advice from incredible people and experiences, and that patience and time-management is the key to everything. At the end of the day, it is my goal for people not just to wear my jewellery, but to be involved and recognize my brand as something they want to be a part of.”

On a typical day in the office

“There is no typical day for me. My timings are very flexible since I work from home, and I manage everything on my own.

“My mornings involve catching up with mails, and replying to messages and queries on my social media handles. I generally do my meetings during the day, and post-lunch is when I actually get to the real work. The design and production work is what takes up all my time, that I sometimes end up working on for 18 hours a day. Music makes for good company. I love my work, and I am very passionate about it. I generally wind up my day watching a TV show or some good movie. Right now, I am obsessed with the show Black Mirror.”

On her favourite place to order lunch from

Oh, it has to be Swiggy! I like to have options and the app provides me with that. Most importantly, I can’t do without a good cup of chai.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“Wonderwoman, with a spin to her outfit. I would add some tasteful jewellery.”

[Follow ROIA on Facebook, Instagram & get in touch with Rohita here]

VII. Tara Books: Relaxed, rigorous, unafraid.

“Pushing the boundaries of the book form in an age that is busy writing its obituary,” reads the ‘About’ section of independent publishing house Tara Books’ website. Started in 1994 by Gita Wolf, the organisation now comprises a core group of 11 people based in Chennai, and designers from across the globe working at their Chennai hub. Tara initially started out as a publisher of children’s books, but their list has since expanded to include art and design books for adults, as well as a select list of fiction. The core of their publishing remains in the area of visual books, with 10-15 titles being released a year.

Over the years, Tara has become a worker-owned company, run by a core group of writers and book makers; their collaborations are rich, varied and spread across the world. “We’re committed to bringing a variety of marginalised voices and perspectives to the reader, and over the years, our engagement with the rich diversity of Indian folk and tribal art has become particularly well-known,” Gita Wolf shares. “We’ve brought many of these traditions into the book for the first time, by combining them with contemporary design and fine production. We continue to enjoy experimenting with the form of the book: from content and design, to paper and printing.”

Tara’s trademark, winning critical acclaim and major international awards, are their range of books made completely by hand, printed and bound in their special workshop. Industry honours of note include the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the year in Asia in 2013; and The London Book Fair International Book Industry Excellence Awards in 2014. “We’ve grown in depth and complexity, and I think we will go where our vision takes us, because we’re not afraid of taking risks.”

On what makes your company special

“Every book should be a work of integrity, from the concept to the smallest detail in execution.”

The Backdrop

Born in Calcutta in 1956, Gita was educated in different cities in India, and her MA in Comparative Literature was from the University of Erlangen, in Germany. In 1987, after living and working in Germany for 10 years, she moved back with her family to Chennai, and in 1994, she started Tara Books, an independent publishing house based in Chennai.

Gita’s range of interests led her to consider publishing when she first returned to India from Germany. “It brings together ideas, literature, art, design and crafting - and children’s picture books are a particularly happy combination of all this,” she says. “So I started Tara as a children’s publishing house, to create unusual picture books based in the Indian context. When I began over two decades ago, I had neither a concrete business plan nor a clear course of action, but there was always this basic idea: to go beyond what was traditionally considered suitable for children, particularly in India.”

So with the help of a few creative friends, Tara set out to do just that. Morphing into a collective, Tara grew into a collaborative effort as a part of which each individual brought forth a unique strength, with a shared interest in experimenting with a range of ideas, themes, narratives, art styles, design and production possibilities. The idea has been to challenge the reader, as well as the form of the book, to create a readership, ‘not just feed into one’.

After years of working out of small rented houses, Tara has now built their own space, called Book Building, with delegated spaces for offices, a bookstore and gallery (for exhibitions, events and workshops) with studio apartments for artists, authors or designers who come to collaborate on projects.

“I’ve always been interested in books and art, and my work at Tara allows me to explore the relationship between words and visuals in unorthodox ways,” Gita says. “I enjoy cooking, travel, trekking, photography, reading and watching films. I’m also a writer: beginning with The Very Hungry Lion in 1995, I’ve written over twenty books for children and adults.”

On the most important lesson she’s learned while running the company

“While we remain committed to dialogue and collaboration, we’ve realized that the ultimate responsibility must lie with us.”

On a typical day in the office

“Periods of solitary work, punctuated often by conversation, camaraderie and visitors.”

On everybody’s favourite place to order lunch from / One unanimously loved snack in your office

“We’ve got a sunny yellow dining area, and everybody brings their own lunch. Very often though, someone will bring a treat and leave it on the table to be polished off. Exotic sweets from foreign places – Japan is a favourite – go down well.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“The grills at Book Building, if that’s allowed. They’re not exactly portable, though.”

[Follow Tara Books on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Vimeo]

VIII. Stray Factory: Collaborative, Responsible, Innovation - Overall, Really Weird.

Stray Factory, started with the core value of collaboration, started out as a Theatre Company and has since grown into a Studio which produces Performing Arts, Digital Content and Films. The core value of collaboration continues, bringing artists from different backgrounds together.

On what makes his company special

“Even in the darkest hour, we never forget to keep ‘Making’. Also, we throw a pretty mean party.”

The Backdrop

31-year-old Mathivanan Rajendran is a user experience researcher, futurist researcher, a theatre actor and director, as well as a media producer and gypsy traveller.

On the most important lesson he’s learned while running the company

“One very important thing: Invest in people. Have their best interests at heart, give them life-changing experiences. Find joy in their growth.”

On a typical day in the office

“No day is the same but it always ends at a Happy Hour.”

One unanimously loved snack in your office

“Unanimously-loved snack is ‘Kaalan’, which is a Chennai street food made of mushrooms.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“Our logo is a mascot, it’s a Curious Monkey with Shades & Che Beret.”

[Follow Stray Factory on Youtube, Facebook here or here]

IX. Margazhi Contemporary Design House: Exclusive, Authentic and Dedicated

Margazhi stemmed from a curious hobby of 26-year-old Madhulika Kapilavayi - converting empty bottles into quaint lamps. Later, saris became the main focus; having always looked up to her mum’s sense of dressing, Madhulika would wait for every chance she got to drape herself in a sari. “But, somehow, my interests have always been concealed because I was at a corporate environment, which gave me no scope in exploring what was essentially my creative side,” she shares. “Working with M.Rm Foundation gave me that much needed morale boost, and fine-tuned various core skills of design and business management in me to pursue my dream. I slowly started working on my designs, doing the groundwork for a start-up with minimal investment; the demand for designer saris of authenticity was an added advantage.”

On Oct 5th, 2014, Madhulika launched ‘Margazhi - The Contemporary Design House’ online as a page on Facebook, where her first release consisted of 15 patchworked saris, that got sold out in a week flat after launch.

“This was my biggest motivation in taking up the whole business to next level. It’s been two years now and I’m happy about how well my venture is shaping up, and reaching out to clients all around the world.”

On what she thinks makes her company special

“Deliver the best of what you’ve got, and you only receive the best ones right back — we are highly customer-centric.”

The Backdrop

With two years of corporate experience as Content Analyst at Amazon.com under her belt, Madhulika worked with M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation - Manjal, as a designer for a year. She is currently working as Advisor for The Collective, Aditya Birla Group Of Companies, and also dabbles in doodling, styling, photography, cooking, shopping, while continuing to make lamps with used liquor bottles. She confesses she is also a sucker for sitcoms.

On the most important lesson she’s learned while running the company

“Never doubt one’s own ability at any given point in time. There can never be a success story without failures or mistakes. We are bound to make mistakes initially, as budding entrepreneurs, as well as later in the journey; what’s important is that we learn from them.

“At the end of the day. it’s all about those experiences that help us build a strong foundation for the company. Fix the flaws and work towards the issue, rather than breaking down. Only when we hold our head up high can we see how tall we’ve grown. Experiences bound our market. Just keep it strong no matter what!”

On a typical day in the office

“I have two jobs! Juggling between a full-time day job to Margazhi typically looks like - straight from work to back home, and then to the Margazhi work. I get one day off in a week, and it’s totally dedicated to Margazhi. My company is a reflection of who I am. I have to work round-the-clock to grow in what I am doing. So everyday looks like a typical Margazhi masam to me.”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“An hourglass-shaped wine bottle draped in one of my saris, all lit up!”

[Follow Marghazi on Facebook]

X. Indie Culture: Fresh, fluid, functional

25-year-old Indou Theagrajan is the Founder and Principal designer of Indie Culture, and reinventing looks and outfits with a play on layers is a trademark style of hers. Indie Culture was born as a leather-focused fashion brand that uses the material in new and interesting ways, while keeping quality, affordability, and style at the top of the priority list.

“When I returned from Milan, my love for outerwear had only strengthened by how beautifully I saw it worn there, and I noticed a distinct lack of it in India,” she says. “I wanted to make sure that the products are uniquely functional for Indian climates, but encompass my love for travel, and for fashion that transcends borders. I threw myself into creating handcrafted, stylish and durable leather apparel for the fashionable Indian.”

Having been an animal lover and a vegetarian all her life, she ensured that Indie Culture directly sourced and processed leather only from meat-processing facilities, where the skin is a by-product and is considered waste; no exotic leather or fur is used in her collections either.

Today, IC has come out with a collection of outerwear garments for men and women, other apparel for women, like leather shorts and pencil skirts, as well as men’s wallets, travel wallets, and accessories. “In the 6 months since our site went live, I’ve been thrilled to see my jackets worn by Rohit Khandelwal, Mr World 2016, and South Indian actors Roshan Mathew and Amitash Pradhan,” she beams. “And even that pales in comparison to feedback I get from my everyday customers.”

On what makes her company special

“The ability and capacity to cater to every customer’s individual needs, in terms of fit and styling.”

The Backdrop

While on paper, it would say Indou’s studied fashion at NIFT, Chennai and Istituto Marangoni, Milan, in reality, she confesses she has been a student of fashion for the greater part of her life.

“Growing up, I spent a lot of my childhood at my parents’ now 35-year-old leather fashion export house, and the process fascinated me,” she says. “I was always surrounded by talks of fabric, design, production, and shipping, and this honed in me a deep appreciation for the process of handcrafting a product.”

After a 6-month internship at a fashion house in Crema, Italy, Indou returned home to Chennai to start her own online retail store, Indie Culture. In her free time, she dabbles in interior design, and travels as much as humanly (and financially) possible.

On the most important lesson she’s learned while running the company

“Quality and attention to detail always pays off, big time.”

On a typical day in the office

“The tailoring team, and the pattern-master bustling, discussing, while constantly coordinating with the tannery to ensure our leather is on track for every order. Brainstorming sessions with bloggers, artists, collaborators, and coming up with new ideas for products, offers, artwork, and posts for social media; all this, peppered with occasional vendor meetings and regular quiet chai breaks.”

One unanimously-loved snack in the office

“South Indian favourites are prepared for breakfast and lunch at our company canteen. The tea kadai (tea stall) down the street with it’s piping hot samosas, pakoras and hajjis is everyone’s guilty pleasure. So hard to turn down, especially in the monsoon!”

Who / what would your company mascot be?

“A compass — to celebrate our love for travel, and carving our own path. It also signifies the beginning of our customer’s journeys with our jackets that will quite literally always have their backs!”