It’s not about shoelaces!

Saturday, 14 February 2015 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Shoelace Studio is all about novelty décor that delights   Shoelace Studio Founders Savanthi Weerakone, Dyan Prakash and Kushan Anver     By Fathima Riznaz Hafi Shoelace Studio is a novelty store consisting of interior decor ranging from artwork to posters and nail and string art, while they also undertake custom orders. Launched in December last year, the creative start-up is a result of an innovative set of ideas brought about by a team of three. Dyan Prakash (25), Savanthi Weerakone (23) and Kushan Anver (23) each have full-time jobs but do this during their free time, which is normally in the evenings after work, and discussions often go on till the next morning. The Weekend FT met up with the perky trio who spoke energetically about their new venture. “It all started around Christmas last year,” Savanthi said. “We were just talking about how it would be fun to make cards and quotes and discussed it for a while. But after that we didn’t meet again for some time and the idea sort of sizzled. Then we bumped into each other again unexpectedly one day and that’s when we really started talking about doing something about it.” “Right now we don’t have a place or store as such from where we do the work. We communicate with our customers and do the marketing, etc., through Facebook. We do the work in our homes – mainly Savanthi’s because her parents have been very tolerant with us,” said Dyan. Although the idea started off with them wanting to make cards, that idea evolved into something bigger – making word art boards, nail and string and more innovative and artistic creations that proved to be an instant hit, judging from the feedback they got. Ironically they have never made a card as yet. Though they call themselves ‘Shoelace Studio’, what they do doesn’t have anything to do with shoelaces at all. I was under the impression that it did, so I asked them about it. “Many people think that our products are made with shoelaces because of our name but it’s just a name that we came up with,” Savanthi said. “We make our work out of so many other things: yarn, mason jars, nails and more,” Kushan added.   What they do There are other people who produce inspirational quotes and artwork and sell them, so what makes Shoelace Studio different? Firstly, they don’t just create quotes; they come up with innovative ways of displaying these quotes. They brainstorm till the wee hours of the morning and come up with quotes – my two favourite ones are ‘So there is the boy who kinda stole my heart. He calls me mommy’ and ‘I love you more than coffee (But please don’t make me prove it)’ – and display them in various artistic ways, ranging from wood, glass and t-shirts. They find the material required and make the pieces themselves. Secondly, the artwork that they produce is not the kind that we see around here. “Nail and string art is not something new; it’s already popular in other countries but it is new to Sri Lanka and we are the first to bring this here,” said Dyan. They also make night lamps and welcome signs. One night lamp which has the carving ‘Love you to the moon and back’ is part of the Valentine’s collection. Welcome signs at doorways basically just carry the word ‘Welcome’ but even this can be done in all sorts of ways and that’s what they’ve done – they have created the sign in all sorts of ways. Using that one word – ‘Welcome’, the list of ideas for the kind of artwork that can carry this word seems to be endless with them – their imagination certainly runs wild as is seen from their products. “I love seasons,” Kushan said, as that’s when they get even more orders and get to be really busy with their creativity. They get a lot of orders and make pieces for weddings, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and all occasions. Right now they are busy creating custom made pieces for Valentine’s. “Sometimes we come up with a quote, sometimes they give us the quote and want us to come up with a creative way to display it. Sometimes they give us the quote and tell us how they want it and we do it exactly the way they want it – we have no limitations. A lot of our work is custom-made and we give whatever the customer wants. We love doing this. It’s so much fun. We never thought we would get such great feedback. We weren’t sure how the reaction would be but were very surprised when people told us how much they loved our work,” he said. “We have just 500 hit likes on Facebook!” Savanthi added, with pride.   Eco-friendly and affordable Their creations are to a certain extent eco-friendly because their carvings are on wood and they also use glass jars and other materials that are reusable. Dyan gets the wood that would otherwise be discarded, they then polish, paint or do whatever else is needed to make the perfect piece for their presentation. “The pieces are not very costly as we want our products to be available to students as well and not confine it only to rich people,” Savanthi said. A standard item costs around Rs. 2,000.   The trio During discussions, they may share different views sometimes but somehow come together to create the perfect product. Each comes with a special gift: Dyan is the tech expert; he gets creative ideas for designs on the internet and uses them, adding his own touch of creativity. Savanthi in addition to her creative ideas is also the photographer; she takes lovely shots of each creation of Shoelace Studio and posts them on Facebook and Instagram. Kushan is not only good with his fingers but is also the researcher. He painstakingly researches all information necessary to create a certain piece and then carries out the work so meticulously his partners get nervous. He is the highly enthusiastic one who aims for perfection, to the point where, once when Dyan was just completing the outer layer of a piece, he came, saw, disapproved and removed the entire part that he had stitched and started over ‘the right way’. We had a good laugh over his story but the unity and drive that was shared among the three was quite impressive. They told me another story of their superhero artwork which they had created by embedding nails into colourful boards made from wood and very carefully entwined string around those nails to make logos of Superman, Batman and other superheroes. This was a very tedious and time consuming piece of work and while they were working on it, Dyan made a comment which resulted in a reaction that he certainly didn’t expect. “I just made an observation that maybe we shouldn’t have the outer layer of nails and just have the inner ones on their own. As soon as I said that I got a phone call. I left for maybe around 30 seconds and when I came back Kushan was removing all the nails and told me he liked my idea better!” he said. “That was not easy to do. It takes a lot of time to embed those nails in a particular way.” Every now and then while the other two were talking, Kushan would flash his phone in my face like an excited little child, to show a picture of one of their creations. It was quite amusing. If you wish to meet the trio and check out their products for yourselves, stop by at the Colombo Design Market at Laksala Museum Grounds next Sunday. This was in fact where Shoelace Studio had first launched their services last year. “It’s an amazing platform for designers to get their products out there,” Dyan said. You can either select from the products that they will have on display or place your order for custom-made creations which they will be very happy to fulfil. They will be there on 22 February from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pix by Shehan Gunasekera