In the second part of ‘Kovai’s Enterprising Entrepreneurs’, Surya Harish elicits interesting info from Tamarai’s creative head and founder Swaroopa Muthusivan in a tete-a-tete on how she developed a passion for fashion designing thereby making it a profession. The interface details about her transition from fashion show to fashion designing.
Tete-A-Tete With Swaroopa, The Creative Mind Behind Tamarai
When and where did your passion for designing begin?
Even as a child, I used to love nature and would spend hours admiring the beauty. This was fundamental in my growing interest in arts, fashion and everything that had to do with colours over the years. I distinctly remember my fourth grade summer holidays when my mother used to take me along with her for her sewing classes. I was immensely attracted by how a piece of fabric was articulately made into beautiful garments. I used to gather around the teacher while she taught and grasped all the techniques right from folding the cloth, to measuring, cutting and stitching. The teacher used to say you would become a good enough tailor if you could stitch one straight line without deviation. I used to try getting the perfect straight line by practising on my mom’s sewing machine for hours together.
One fine day I decided to take one of my mom’s blouse and strip it all the way by removing all the stitches and only the cut pieces remained. I had carefully kept the way the stitches went while removing them. Hence I started reverse engineering and stitched the blouse again with proper measurements and stitching. My mom was amazed by how perfectly it fitted. She was one of those who was very picky about her blouse fittings and used to send her blouses all the way to Madurai to get it stitched from her childhood tailor. This gave me so much confidence and I started experimenting by stitching my own clothes for college. The compliments were so high that made me very confident about my passion and helped me take it up as a profession later.
Birth of Tamarai
After the birth of my son, I was concentrating more on his growing years, as they were memories I wished to hold on to dearly for the rest of my life. Once he began school and I had more time at hand, I along with my friend with whom I shared common interests decided to begin a boutique for women and named it “Orchids”. I chose Orchids especially because of its unique quality of wonderful colour blends, textures and longevity. I started getting a lot of clients just through word of mouth.
Later on, when I shifted to the current store in Sivaram Nagar, I want to make my passion taken to the next level by full-fledgedly starting my store which shared my inner wishes which are deeply rooted to my tradition. So I wanted to choose a name in my mother tongue and finally chose Tamarai (lotus), one of the most beautiful flowers, very feminine and so very traditional to our Indian culture. To choose the logo I didn’t want to choose the flower instead I chose Sri chakra which is a symbol of positivity. I wanted my customers to feel positive while wearing my garments. Hence my logo was based on Sri chakra which was to look like the aerial view of lotus. Thus Tamarai came into existence on April 14, 2015.
Milestones of Tamarai and your long term vision
The biggest milestones of Tamarai as yet is the fashion show we organised named “Thunnal”. It was one of kind fashion show that depicted the Indian tradition through a fashion show. It was the first time ever, a fashion show was organized in the form of a dance drama. Over 140 dancers participated in displaying over 200 costumes. They were different drapes of sarees right from the yesteryears to date.
The aim was to take our Indian attire saree, one of the most versatile garment ever globally. We had portrayed women engaging in various activities while wearing saree like doing agriculture, as vendors, as warriors and so much more. It was to express that saree is the most comfortable wear of our region which has no limitation whatsoever.
In the same show, we launched Ravikkai, the blouse, our brand of blouses designed for a perfect fit like a second skin. One of the most important reasons why women hesitate to wear sarees is the lack of proper fitting blouses. To eliminate this Ravikkai aims to provide blouses which are as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt.
I have 3 visions to fulfil through Tamarai. One is to take Indian attire globally, the second is to revive traditional arts and artisans by imbibing them into our latest fashion and the third is to spread the awareness of preserving our traditional wear and fashion by giving guest lectures to the upcoming fashion enthusiasts. My long term vision is to build a Tamarai School of Design to bring artisans from all over the country and teach their art and pass on skills to their students. It will be the place to re-visit the tradition of our entire nation in one place.
Your thoughts on the growth of the fashion industry in the coming years
Fashion keeps getting updated every few years. Today is the world of fast fashion where connectivity allows us to view fashion statements of the world in a click. With the fast changing fashion it is important that we preserve the arts and traditions of our culture by creatively inculcating it in today’s fashion.
Currently, I am on a project of coordinating with kalamkari artisan and Kurumba tribes to make the Kalamkari artisan teach Kurumba tribes the art of dying on clothes. By getting this done, I plan to get Kurumba prints on T-shirts and take Kurumba art far and wide through fashion. We need to pull off this sustainability of our traditional arts by creatively adding them to today’s fashion. By doing so we can ensure that we do not lose our tradition while we get completely westernised.
Do you believe there is a certain formula to become a successful entrepreneur?
I am a person who believes everybody has a different question paper of life. Hence there isn’t a steadfast formula to succeed but certain qualities like hard work, honesty and moral responsibilities can play a vital role in determining your success as an entrepreneur.
How important is fashion for a woman
The ultimate aim of fashion is to make you comfortable and confident. I personally believe that a well-dressed person has boosted confidence and has a higher chance of voicing their opinions in a better way. Hence as women, it is necessary to feel confident and if fashion and dressing can trigger that confidence then one must definitely go for it.
Your advice on work-life balance for women
Every woman out there must first understand the fact that it is impossible to be perfect in both roles. The only thing to keep in mind is to give your best while at work and shed all the responsibilities of work at the doorstep and shine on with your role at home. This helps in living a peaceful life than stressing to be perfect in both the areas.
Your advice for budding fashion enthusiasts
My biggest piece of advice for fashion enthusiasts would be to carry forward the Indian tradition and let no art go extinct. I firmly believe only when we respect and revere our tradition the world will follow. Hence it is important for a designer to keep all our traditional art alive through their work.
Another share of my wisdom would be to refrain from following other’s style. When one does that their work will not be original or consistent. When your work is not consistent then your success will not be consistent either. For details call 9894893268.