While we explore various art forms on our Lifestyle Portal, we thought the art of clay modelling and designing is something that is worth a mention. Recently we had talked about Sand Sculpting, now we take you on a new journey with clay.
We chatted with 27-year-old Shraddha Joshi Doshi the Founder of Clay Crossing in Mumbai. She is a Gold Medalist in B. F. A. (Ceramics) from Sir J J School of Arts Mumbai and has completed her MBA, from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, and has successfully completed the ‘Women Entrepreneurship Programme’ under 10k Goldman Sachs’ Scholarships in 2011. She has worked as an Illustrator with Hindustan Times, as a Design Editor for Sunday Mid-Day and taken up quite a few print design graphic work and also worked as a freelancing photojournalist.
How did it all begin?
“During my pursuit for expressing concepts and thoughts, I found that there is no other medium like clay, as it had all the qualities to unleash and explore an art form,” explains Shraddha. Right after her specialisation in pottery and ceramics; Shraddha realised that this eternal art form needs the platform and an initiative to bring ceramics into the mainstream. So she founded this venture, as she was keen on making pottery accessible to all age groups that would also help her create unique contemporary creations.
Mr Sandip Manchkar one of the biggest names in ceramics who also happened to be Shraddha’s mentor had dedicated his whole time and efforts for setting up a community centre has always been her inspiration for contributing in the field of pottery. This encouraged Shraddha to launch Clay Crossing in February 2010 and enter the Kala Ghoda Art Fest where she got to promote her artwork.
“Everything was my own idea, right from the logo and brand name, says Shraddha. She further adds, “You always observe the zebra crossing on the signals, so Clay Crossing is a must halt in your regular life, it also signifies a new dimension to pottery.”
Shraddha admits that the initial investment was a tough one. “Since this is not a regular white collar business, pottery has a totally different set of requirements right from a furnace, the electric pottery wheel, clay minerals, raw materials and all this cost me almost 1.25 lacs which I managed entirely from my savings.” When she got married and bought her own home in a very prime area of Mumbai, her husband insisted that she should convert their extra bedroom into a studio that would help her save travel time and allow people to access her workshops.
When Shraddha started out she invited all her ex-colleagues especially from the newspapers where she had worked earlier, to attend weekend workshops. Once they attended the weekend workshops, her friends were impressed with the experience and their ‘self –gifted’ pots, and she kept getting more feedback, queries and responses for her workshops. And depending on the queries and items wanted, Shraddha added more categories like eco-friendly Ganesh idols and new fashion jewellery.
One such time Shraddha spotted an ad for on Women Entrepreneurship Programs, from the ISB, Hyderabad and a Goldman Sach’s sponsored MBA. “I applied immediately with full form and interview and on 28th August, the biggest honour I received was when I got selected for my brand which gave my work a proper shape with knowledge about strategies and business plan”, smiles Shraddha.
She continues, “This not only boosted my confidence but made me aware of all entrepreneur challenges. I worked hard on new opportunities, I have been provided with talented mentors, and I was one of the 30 women in Mumbai and only one with this isolated stream of business.”
Shraddha also went on to design a website after running a few workshops. “It took time since people are not willing to pay the proper cost, lack of ceramic knowledge as they only seem to treat painting as an art form.” She had to also face other challenges such as lack of trained labour, funds and no proper market to sell her creations, as she wasn’t into retail. To remedy these challenges, Shraddha mentions, “One way was to take help from students who pursued courses at Clay Crossing, and with the help of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook has helped me a lot.” Her add on skills such as photography and graphic designing has also proved as well.
“I tried to make really exclusive out of box designs to stand out in the market, and so I had to work very hard on concepts, surveyed the market, home décor, design, home accessory shops as well. “After getting several enquiries about my workshops, I registered myself with few local search engines (such as Just Dial) and I started getting calls from ecotel hotels, premium hotels, event managers for workshops, and of course my participation in the Kalaghoda Art Festival where I got a huge chunk of enquiries,” beams Shraddha.
Shraddha’s Coconut Ganesh, an installation sculpture, an eco-friendly idol got so much appreciation that now it’s found it almost every household and office. She adds, “Recently Clay Crossing participated in huge art and entertainment festival, ‘Wassup Andheri’, senior painter and artist, Lalita Lajmi bought some pots from my stall and even invited me to her place! Her compliments matter the most to me. It’s really nice to see that people realise the value of original ancient art, like pottery today with all the feedback and appreciation I received at the fest.”
What makes Clay Crossing so unique?
Like the name suggests, Crossing Clay means breaking boundaries of conventional pottery. Right from exploring the talent, coming up with unique designs Shraddha strives to bring forth the multifunctional aspects of pottery and clay. It could be anything right from jewellery, vases, Ganeshas or lamps. Basically, there’s something for everyone who seeks interest in natural and creative activities such as pottery and clay.
Sourcing raw materials
Shraddha mentions that most of the raw materials are procured from Delhi, Dharavi and other parts of India. “Once the sketching is ready and the execution begins, we need to make various techniques that are required to create the artefacts and allow then to dry in the sun naturally. Not to forget the ‘bake fire cycle’ needs at least a day for any clay work to complete,” mentions Shraddha. So the raw materials depend on the type of clay work that has been designed during the sketching process.
Gradually more and more parents are eager that their children learn the art of pottery and clay through the workshops held at Clay Crossing. Now Shraddha gets a whole lot of enquiries from eager parents especially to hold a workshop on birthday parties, which is now a popular phenomenon in the city. Clay Crossing also gets invited to various schools to hold demonstration sessions and workshops, which is an enjoyable experience for Shraddha. Even corporate tie-ups give her the chance to teach people from no creative backgrounds who in turn thoroughly enjoy the creative process.
If you’d like to know more about Clay Crossing, workshops and other events visit http://www.claycrossing.co.in/ or contact Shraddha at firstname.lastname@example.org and +91-9967799647. You can also check out her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/claycrossingpottery as well!
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