I am a law graduate from the National Law School of India, Bangalore, but I have always had a creative side to me as well. I have worked in theatre, radio, journalism, internet companies – beginning in content, moving onto technology and finally management, worked with an art company that took exhibitions of Indian contemporary art all over the world and launched India’s first online art auction website.
I was working as a corporate trainer when I got the opportunity to partner with the owners of The Shop, a 40 year old clothing and lifestyle brand in Delhi. I brought the brand to Mumbai and that journey with all its trials and tribulations piqued my interest in retail in general and in furniture and home accessories in particular.
I researched the market felt that there was a gap and a need for relaxed, non-ornate, well-priced furniture and accessories. The idea was to break from the ethnic, the Bali imports, the high-end designer, kitsch or street shopping options that were available in the market. And so, Sanctum was born!
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives
Sanctum has recently launched a children’s section.
Shopping at Sanctum promises to be more fun with the launch of an exclusive children’s section. Delightful quilts, patchwork cushion covers in alphabet & animal themes, pyjama sets in organic cotton, washable buntings to add cheer to the room, trunks for storage, cute little cupboards,study tables, fun stationery items, animal figurines, fun bathroom accessories & more items are in available in the children’s section. Come & check it out yourselves!
We would love to start a book club too if we can find people interested in organising and participating!
Everything happened at break neck speed and between getting clarity on my idea and opening our doors, barely two months passed! That meant finding a space to rent, renovating, finding manufacturers and vendors, getting the capital I needed, the staff, the permissions and everything else!
It’s not been an easy run. Retail has had a hard time in the last few years, and shops shut down all around us, but we just kept at it, kept our operations lean and efficient, kept innovating, improving our services and offerings and we’re looking forward to good times ahead!
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
It took me over two years to get The Shop up and running. With Sanctum it took 2 months. So as it happened I launched two stores in one year – 2011. Since I did not have a team or large resources, this meant a lot of work for me. I am also a mother to two boys aged 11 and nine and have a cat and dog and grandmothers who I visit in another city, as my parents don’t live in India.
I wouldn’t say I did a spectacular job on all fronts…I was away from home a lot, my husband really helped with the kids (he’s a lawyer), my health took a beating, but I held it together and stayed focussed and had a lot of fun along the way too.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Going by my track record – who knows! Maybe I’d be running a scuba diving school now. I think nurturing, building something of enduring value – creatively, and having a laugh have always been my priorities. I’m a dreamer, but also an organiser. So I do feel I’ve come home with Sanctum. But the possibilities in a parallel universe are endless!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I’m inspired by so many people! For me, rather than role models, it’s qualities in people that inspire me. My husband tops that list for me…he started his law firm in 2000, and he’s built a wonderful organisation that holds its values and team members in high regard. There’s a strong element of inclusiveness, of giving back.
My kids inspire me every day – bursting with ideas, with enthusiasm, with understanding.
My cat – zen, loyal, fierce.
I’m inspired by the gentlemen entrepreneurs of India – Adi Godrej, Ratan Tata, Rajan Raheja and one bio force – Kiran Majumdar Shaw
The future is so exciting – I hope to grow the brand, we already source or make 95% of our stock from India, so I hope to be more involved with the communities of craftspeople and furniture makers, tell their stories, involve them more, make them partners in this venture rather than just suppliers or service providers.
For both my stores, I’ve hired boys and girls from the vicinity, trained them in English, computer, retail and customer service skills and allowed them to grow organically into managerial levels. I hope we can do that on a much larger scale going forward.
We are expanding our ecommerce offering but I hope more physical stores will follow too. I hope Sanctum will become a household name synonymous with quality, comfort and uniqueness.
Sanctum seeks to help you create your very own space – your sanctum in this noisy, bustling city. You’ll find one of a kind pieces of furniture and decor here – a coffee table made with 6 different shades of wood or an iron crow fashioned from scrap metal. So yes, environmental consciousness is a big part of our product creation and selection.
But fun and comfort are key words too! You’ll find plenty of colour, patchwork, distress, a lot of faded, worn in looks. We’re not about perfection or control. Rather the beauty of our products lie in the un-rendered finishes, with scars showing. Pieces with character that have witnessed much and acquired an elegance that only comes with time.
In its very first year Sanctum was voted Best Home Store by mumbaiboss.com and has since continued to delight customers with its warm and unpretentious offerings in furniture, cushions, stationery, crockery, lamps, home décor and gifting options. Sanctum is also a space that hosts workshops, talks, tea parties and exhibitions showcasing works of young artists and designers.
There’s always something old, something blue, something new!
Sanctum is open all days from 11am – 8.30pm