Wear Green

GREEN PRINT — A JUNEFUL OF GREEN STORIES

Bangalore-based designer Pavithra K L tells SUMEDHA RAIKAR-MHATRE why and how she zeroed in on Paper Jewellery as a means to preserve the eco-system

Coming close to Nature in everyday practice is tantamount to preserving Nature. This is no quote from a naturalist addressing a World Environment Day summit. It is an observation of a 22-year-old Bangalore-based young girl, Pavithra K L, who has designed Paper Jewellery — her self-styled start-up enterprise of women’s jewellery articles made from reused paper. It is her idea of preserving the environment. It is her individual initiative that runs in her private time at her residence in Kumaraswamy layout in Bangalore.

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“Why wait for someone to come up with eco-friendly ideas? I would rather do something that comes from my experience and education,” she feels as she puts together beads, used paper, gum, wires and natural color to bring to life a vibrant collection of paper earrings and pendants. While wristlets, armlets, rings, necklaces and other charms are in the blueprint mode, Pavithra is now sorting out the logistics that will formalize her entrepreneurial project.  A commerce graduate from Bangalore University, who has also done post-graduation in Social Entrepreneurship from the Center for Social Initiative and Management, Pavithra is currently doing primary research of the jewelry market, with an eye on the paper segment. “There is still time for me to develop a revenue model that will sustain the idea. But I am happy to have come to a stage where this has become my mission. This is no longer an obscure venture of a clueless youngster. I spent a full year in toying with the idea, learning the craft from friends, creating an inventory of items. Now is the time to display the wares,” feels Pavithra.

Pavithra has begun to popularize Paper Jewellery with the help of online social media platforms. Her portfolio of paper items and geometrical designs are exhibited on her Facebook Page named Paper Jewellery. There is a reason why she has retained a simple and direct nomenclature. “Just as creative names attract attention, simplicity also drives home a message. Very few people buy and use paper jewellery in India, even less so in Bangalore. Therefore I wanted to arrest their interest by being direct and unswerving. My belief in reused paper reflects in the name,” says Pavithra who has started getting purchase offers from different types of paper art lovers and jewellery enthusiasts. As of now, she has catered to those in and around Bangalore. She is still sorting out the courier logistics for those who are geographically distant. “Mine is a very low-priced range, due to which dispatch costs have not yet been factored in. There is no point in selling Rs 30 earring with Rs 100 courier expenses. I will therefore have to soon get into online sales. Otherwise the overhead costs will compel me to raise my charges.”

Pavithra intends to fashion out a range of low-priced chic paper jewellery items. “That is part of the ‘green’ philosophy. I want to make inexpensive jewellery fashionable. I feel that jewellery is an expression of beauty and it should be within the reach of the common woman. There is a joy in wearing something that comes from our natural surroundings. And this joy should not be exclusive.” The idea of doing low-cost paper jewellery stemmed from Pavithra’s strong dislike for high-cost handicrafts in India. “I have a deep-rooted disrespect for artisans’ goods sold to upper class gentry. I am not sure whose cause is served when a hand block printed sari or handwoven scarf or handmade pottery is sold at an astronomical price, all in the name of an invisible artisan,”  Pavithra’s ‘green’ politics is pretty spelt out in her choices, notwithstanding her age or experience. “I am old enough to make my choices. And if my choice is green, my politics also needs to be that. We are all making political choices by doing or not doing certain things. And I am going to popularize paper jewellery and do my bit,” that’s the clarity from Pavithra, who works for a youth-based NGO in Bangalore. “My day-time job is to empower the youth and the evening time is to empower myself with an idea close to my heart.” She feels the enterprise will reach professional standards with the passage of time. She is also looking into the possibilities of accessorizing her paper items with other paper-related ventures. “I can see interesting collaborations with paper greeting cards and paper upholstery. The jewellery can be a conduit for a bigger business proposal.”

How will Paper Jewellery bring you close to Nature? Pavithra is all set and charged to answer that question. “I think old newspapers and other type of paper is abundantly available and royally wasted. We hardly recycle this paper. Instead we use more paper and thereby cut more trees. The idea of Paper Jewellery is to reuse paper for an item that lends color to our lives. Also this jewellery is light on the body, it is biodegradable and non-invasive and it does not pollute the environment, like plastic or rubber does.” Pavithra is cognizant of the fact that paper stuff has its own limitation in terms of daily use. “There are issues about paper’s durablity. So I can make water-proof paper products. But as of now the idea is to advertise paper jewellery as a cool concept. Once it is accepted as an alternative, we can diversify and lend more finesse,” says Pavithra.

Since her formative years, Pavithra’s dream is to become a “changemaker.” That word had a special appeal for me. I wanted to change the world and become an agent of positive change. But I did not have an idea about how to go about it. Today things are no longer vague. Now I have an idea, my own idea. Now I will change the way people look at jewelry and art. I will change some perceptions. And I will help in making the world a greener and better place,” she affirms.

Sumedha Raikar Mhatre

Sumedha Raikar Mhatre

Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre is a Mumbai-based theatre-critic, culture chronicler, translator and a public diplomacy practitioner. She has contributed to anthologies on theatre and the performing arts.