How often is it that we follow our hobbies and passion in such a way that it becomes not only a profession, but a way to express ourselves through our art? Meet 39-year-old, Maya Kharat, a Mumbai based hobby enthusiast who has been creating some very unique and refreshing home décor and household decorative items that can find a place in every nook and corner of your home and heart.
“Ever since I was a child, I have always been passionate about art and craft. I remember how I would create scrapbooks, birthday cards and little creations which of course my parents thought were master pieces! However, my interest remained at that. I never thought that my hobby could be developed into something further until my daughter was born and I was sitting at home for the first time without a career after many years,” quips Maya.
A graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and a Post Grad in Travel and Tourism from Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai, Maya has been in the travel trade for more than 11 years with a company called Orbitz, one of India’s premier International Trade Fair Travel organizations.
“My forte in this field was to design, operate and market travel products, source, and negotiate worldwide for the best travel services. This would also involve travelling and executing major travel projects abroad, at times, involving thousands of passengers. After an enjoyable and successful tenure of leading various departments and teams, it was time to start my own little team. With motherhood round the corner, I decided to give travel a break, sit back and pursue my hobby in arts and crafts,” mentions Maya.
Refining the Hobby
Without any formal training in arts and crafts, Maya decided to approach an outlet of ‘Hobby Ideas ‘in Mumbai, to enquire if they had any courses available. She pursued a year long course from Pidilite, which is a parent company for ‘Hobby Ideas’ and became a qualified ‘Hobby Idea Teacher’ and a Government Certified Art and Craft Teacher. She adds, “While pursuing the Hobby Idea Course, I decided to take my hobby to the next level and that is how Mai TAI Krafts was created.”
When asked how did she come up with the name ‘Mai TAI Krafts’, Maya tells us that it was a nickname coined her brother-in-law coined many years ago. She says, “It was his suggestion that if I ever start something on my own later I should use this name.” Incidentally, in most Indian languages Mai is a derivation of mother and Tai a name for sister. Since it has always been her desire to help and teach women of lower economic strata a craft or skill that would enable them to add to their family earnings, the name ‘Mai TAI Krafts’ fit perfectly.
It has been more than three years now that Maya has been actively pursuing her hobby. While the challenges are plenty and will almost always remain, it’s just that with time, one becomes more adept at solving them confirms Maya.
Challenges being a hobbyist
According to her, challenges in her field involve creating new crafts that must be up to date with the market trends and requirements as well as retaining her own identity. Sourcing quality material is another tough area. Further, competition and copycats always help to better one’s own handicraft.
Anything made by hand takes time and effort. “Unfortunately, in our country which is so rich in handicrafts, the effort behind the making is totally ignored as labour is taken for granted,” mentions Maya. She further adds, “A single medium sized product can take from two days to a week to complete as there are many stages in the creation. The next stage cannot be started till the first is completed.”
Sale and Marketing
Maya’s handicraft largely focuses around home décor pieces, festival and celebration crafts. They can be customized and are exclusive to each client. Her specialties are magazine holders, brocade mirrors and trays, coffee paintings (paintings actually made from coffee). Especially during Diwali, hand painted and embellished Rangolis with matching diyas are very popular. The other handmade crafts that you can look forward to are greeting cards, gorgeous embellished gift tags, designer gift envelopes with Kundan work, wall decoratives, photo frames, key holders and hand painted wooden and glass trays.
One of her first client was a friend and there after it just kept increasing largely by word of mouth publicity and of course through various exhibitions and forums. Maya has held various exhibitions at call centres, learning institutes, and also at residences for private gatherings and sees a good footfall during festivals like Rakhi, Dussehra, Durga Puja and Diwali. The items range from Rs. 30/- to Rs. 2,000/- or may change depending upon the product and time taken.
While you can find her on Facebook through ‘Mai Tai Krafts’, Maya has painstakingly created a beautiful album with all her handicraft which she shows to the clients of the nature of work she has done so far. She says, “My album helps my clients to see the photographs of all my handicraft, to be able to choose designs, products, colours, and for me to be able to suggest and advise permutation, combinations and even new ideas based on their home or office decor. “
If you wish to pick up some really nice personally handcrafted items, you can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t live in Mumbai, certain unbreakable handicraft items can be couriered out of town.
Photograph courtesy: Maya Kharat