You ring the doorbell at Mr. Kapoor’s house and can’t help but admire the wacky and highly creative nameplate. A flamboyant truck, a sadarji driving the dream machine (we mean the truck) with glasses of lassi, the balle balles, the sarso da saag and lots more detailing which is actually quite welcoming! It speaks volumes about the resident, even before you meet your host, you imagine him to be a fun loving and a down to earth individual with a sense of humour.
You enter Mr. Kapoor’s house and the first thing you ask him, “Where did you get this nameplate from; I want one too!” But then you go, “But I’m a Malayalee, would I get something specific?” Well, whether you’re a Malayalee, a Bengali or a Gujarati, you can get something very personalised, unique and handmade by Arcsun Art.
Meet 28-year-old naval wife, Archana Sunil Kumar, an MCOM, PGDFM and CA (FINAL), who has extensively worked in several multi-nationals in the Finance and Accounting process. The talented and spirited Archana is the brain behind these gorgeous personalised nameplates, beer mugs, jewellery boxes – the works! So the next time you’re thinking of gifting something really unique and personalised at the same time, contact Archana.
How did it all begin?
Archana recalls, “I have always been creative since childhood. My first brush with business was when I was ten years old. I made about 20 hand-made greeting cards at a local fair in Chennai at our local residential complex and managed to sell them all. However, I got busy with studies and work and until six months ago this talent in me was a hobby that kept me happy. That remains my biggest achievement since my constant attempts at self-improvement helped me start a business in this field in spite of a lack of any formal training in art and design.”
Over the years Archana relentlessly kept painting and creating unique home decor items for her own home. Most of the times, people visiting her house would ask her from where she had bought them. When they heard, that it was Archana who created them, they were very appreciative and suggested that she should start a business of selling them.
“Six months back I decided to pay heed to their advice and put up a small exhibition in her neighbourhood in Mumbai. The response was very good and I knew what I had to do!” quips Archana.
Armed with an initial Investment of Rs. 20,000/- from her husband, after her first exhibition Archana was able to recover all the costs and also make the desired profit she had estimated.
She mentions, “My knowledge in product pricing and budgeting helped me achieve my targets. I now use the funds partly towards working capital and partly towards a monthly investment plan for business development.”
Arcun – the name and logo
“ARCSUN is an amalgamation of my name (Archana) and my husband’s name (Sunil). The name Arcsun is also my interpretation of the “Rays of the Sun”. The trademark of Arcsun Art also has the motif of a SUN interpreted on a kite. The motto of my business is “ARTtractions you cannot resist…”
Archana admits that the biggest challenge is balancing everything right from the concept, designing, production, accounting and marketing single-handedly.
“It is a lot of work and though the future looks very promising, at present the rewards are not much. It is hard work to keep yourself motivated through such times, especially when you are qualified enough to work in an office and earn four times more.”
Archana has made Arcsun Art into a full-time business venture for herself. “I am nurturing Arcsun Art with all the care and attention it needs.I firmly believe that unless and until you have everything to lose, you would never get the motivation and discipline to work harder and strive for improvement. If I continue to stay in the comfort zone of working in an office and also handling this business as part time, I would never realise the hardships of a business. If I don’t scrape my knees while running, it would not be a fair game ..would it?,” says Archana.
Archana also mentions other challenges that she faces in pursuing her passion.
“Another challenge that I encounter is finding a market. Though, I have successfully exhibited my work in shops like Tribal Route in Andheri, Mumbai. Not everything goes to one shop. There are things which might not reflect a shop’s USP or might not be priced to the shop’s liking. So I have to look elsewhere for a market. But the products exhibited in shops sell very well and then I keep getting orders from the shops. I have to travel around Mumbai to find shops that can sell my products.”
Archana points out, that one of the main challenges that she faces is protecting her creative ideas and designs. She says, “Even though copyright controls the misuse of the same, I spend a good two hours every day on reinventing/ radical rethinking. A creative idea never gets old. Being in this business I need to constantly come up with new creative ideas and I just love the feeling of brainstorming.”
Archana is also planning to have her own shop very soon. She says, “My shop will have all the things that one would need to exclusively design their homes. The difference that this shop will boast about is that the products would be designed by the in-house designers (long term plan) and manufactured in our exclusive unit and not entirely procured on retail. Everyone knows that retail adds to the cost. Since I have the added advantage of designing and creative thinking I aspire to provide the consumers with an exclusive product at a lesser price. Also, I have a dream of creating a chain of the traditional artisans of India and providing a platform for such artisans to display and sell their work at a price which would generate more revenue to them since I believe that in many cases the original artist’s share in revenue is minuscule. Being an artist myself I want to provide a brief history of the artisan and his product. The biggest reward for an artisan would be “to recognise his identity. Moreover, I need to evaluate how my products satisfy consumer needs. That is the reason why I am concentrating so much on marketing. It is better to be equipped with customer response before you open your own shop,” mentions Archana.
What makes Arcsun products so unique
Archana mentions that the USP of Arcsun products is that they are completely handmade and custom made to the client’s liking.
Archana beams, “Every product is unique because they can be made to a customer’s desire. An ARCSUN nameplate would reveal more than your name. It reveals your identity. If you are proud to be a Punjabi, a chef, cricketer, footballer, singer, artist, the nameplate can reveal it. I have products for people who love Mumbai, manyKolkata, Lucknow… for a die hard Punjabi, Golfer, Singer, Zodiac symbols much more. I have designed nameplates for the kids’ room as well.. Every product is unique. The customer always has a say in his product.”
Custom made products are generally either too expensive or hard to come by. But Archana feels that her products target people who are so busy in their personal and professional front that they find it hard to hunt for that special gift for their loved ones. It feels great to take the responsibility of providing them with that “special, personalised gift”!
Another unique thing about her products is that they cannot be stereotyped as classic/ethnic or contemporary or even quirky. There is a product available for everyone. Moreover the gift ideas are not restricted only to adults. Arcsun has cute utility boxes and nameplates and mugs for kids as well and it’s up to the customer to choose.
Products on offer
Major products are custom made nameplates, beer mugs (golf, cricket lovers, football lovers, beer mugs for couples who enjoy a beer together, special beer mugs for Valentine’s, anniversary, wine glass cum candle holders for “party animals”, weddings and even for Bachelor/ bachelorette party gifts, stained glass vases, goblets, votives, handmade trays, custom made photo collage (Murals) ,attractive Table tops(Mosaic)for your bar cabinet or your centre table, huge Madhubani paintings and stained glass paintings and Murals depicting Radha Krishna(Raas leela). You could get a stylish serving tray which doubles up as a Ludo Board as well! This comes with a rolling die and a set of coins, The King and Queen- Raja Rani tray ), quirky boxes named by me as “the Dabbu” . All these products are priced between Rs. 150/- to Rs. 5,000/-.
The range comprises of:
“dabbuwali” and “memsaab ka dabbu” – jewellery boxes for women,
“dabbuwala” storage box for men, to store those tie pins, nametally, watches etc.
“Mera Dabbu” – huge multipurpose tool box
“ Chota Dabbu” – a box exclusively for the kids.. to store their knick knacks.
How long does it take?
Archana adds, “The number of days that it takes to deliver a finished product depends on the product desired by the client. The designing takes longer than the product actually. I have to cross check with the client with the design and then make some modifications if required. But until date all my clients have been extremely happy with my design that there has been no necessity for a modification.”
After the design is in hand, the time depends on the size of the product. For example a nameplate designing might take about two hours and making it by hand would take only four hours at the most, but this does not include the time for it to dry and getting it framed.
She mentions, “The average time taken for an order would be a week. I initially ask the client if they have a timeline(i.e) if there is a birthday or anniversary in two-three days, I allocate my work accordingly and give them priority.”
Care for the products
Archana adds, “No special care is required for my products. Just the routine dusting will do. As regards the hand painted, custom made beer mugs and wine glass candle holders, they are dishwasher safe. The custom made nameplates last the test of time since they have been properly primed and lacquered to protect the work from harsh weather conditions. Since I use high quality imported paints for my stained glass paintings and other work, the customers can be assured that they have a quality product in hand.”
Placing an order
While most of the orders come through references of existing or old clients, Facebook has also been a major platform for Archana to promote her products to a larger audience.
“I supply my merchandise to clients based in Chennai through courier.
If you’re interested in picking up a personalised handmade product from Arcsun Art, just drop in an email to [email protected], or look her up on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arcsun-Art/157981020957016 as well.
As of now she couriers her handmade nameplates out of Mumbai. With regards couriering the other products she is planning to tie up with online E-shop portals who handle the selling and supplying of her products.
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