Reinventing a Clothing Boutique: Sunita Shroff-Naik

How Sunita Shroff- Naik is giving a different perspective to design, innovation and creativity while keeping in mind the contemporary environmental and social issues.

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Sunita Shroff -Naik always knew she wanted to open a creative business. With a degree in commerce, she opened her first boutique in Pune in 1996.

Her love for sewing began when her father gifted her a sewing machine. As a young girl, her parents encouraged her to learn a new craft every summer. But her heart belonged to sewing. During her college days, she designed her clothes and made shopping bags, coasters, tea-cozy covers, purses, and table mats. She started exhibiting her products when she was still in school. Incidentally, she was the first woman in Pune, to conduct exhibitions for her handmade products in the 1980s.

Though she was studying for her CA exams and was also helping her mother in making clothes, with a passion for design and a keen eye for fashion and clothing, she set out on a venture that was both her passion and grit. She set out on the journey and never looked back.

Orders soon start pouring in from far and wide. She started a range of readymade women kurtas with hand applique. She has conducted solo exhibitions in at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kerala, Mangalore, and Chennai.

Once she had around 400 kilograms of leftover scraps. She didn’t want to throw away and started thinking of ways to utilize them. She stumbled upon the idea of making packing bags with it, and that was too a hit with her customers. Looking at her unique talent and an eye for detail her cousin requested her to provide him with a ton of strings to be used as handles for paper bags.

Well, she could not fulfill that order, but she started researching the idea of making ‘godhadis’ with the help of local women. Her business expanded and she started providing work to more than ten women from local communities. She supplied them with raw material and explained to them the basic idea, and those ladies gave shape to her thoughts. It was a win-win situation for both. Village women got employment and became self-reliant and could explore their creative side.

She also started making tote bags with the leftover a material when one of the women in her team got widowed at a very young age. One tote bag provides income to two women, and the table mats are made from leftover fabric pieces which are quilted and have hand done patchwork. One table mat provides income to three women. Apart from this, she works with women from orphanages and teaches them embroidery and tailoring work occasionally. She also donates, some of her scrap material to a school of differently abled children who make gift envelopes with these.

Sunita says, “It was an enriching and satisfying experience. I was creating something useful, making an impact on the lives of women and also my products were eco-friendly. I was not wasting anything. These women were so talented and but didn’t realize that they had this hidden talent.”

Sunita hopes to continue to grow the sales at her Pune boutique, and she also utilizes social media, and group exhibitions to draw more sales. Though she is happy where she is, she wants to touch more lives.

For more info on Sunita’s business, Creations by Sunita Shroff- Naik visit here.

You can also see this video to know more about her work.

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