Annahmol: A Queen of Modern Bohemia, And Her Conscientious Lifestyle Brand
Life has come full circle for entrepreneur, designer, and space concept stylist, Annah J. Chakola. Her Kochi-based label, Annahmol, is steeped in multi-generational memories; and an amalgam of explorations from Kerala to Texas and back to Kerala.
Annahmol’s handcrafted clothes, bags, accessories, jewellery, and home collectables, are inspired by vintage finds. Less restless, more rooted, her nomadic explorations in the United States found genesis – and often, sanctuary – in memories of the ‘Kerala Renaissance’ of her childhood. Annah’s late father was an artist first before he was a businessman in the 150-year- old family business of textiles. Life was about open house meetings, surrounded by creative people who loved life for the sake of its beauty.
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When she left home at 17, little did Annah know that these memories would temper the fire of a free spirit, bringing it to a smouldering intensity 10 years later, the result of grit becoming grace. The south-central American brand ‘Boho Gypsy’ had returned to South India, becoming ‘Annahmol,’ – ‘mol’ meaning ‘daughter’ in Annah’s native tongue, Malayalam. The bohemian entrepreneur dropped anchor on home ground in Kochi, in 2016 and she couldn’t be happier.
Let’s begin with the apparel range: influenced by the family enterprise, but not necessarily an offshoot of it. It began as an exploration of the second-hand fabrics market. Annah chose vintage crepe silk saris for the combined benefit of heirloom value and easy, adaptable silhouettes. She explains, “I find sustainable fashion creative and fun. But, I also take recycling,
upcycling, and zero waste efforts very seriously. For instance, leftover fabrics from the production of my signature dresses are repurposed for jacket borders, scarves, or home accent pieces. It may not always be easy for brands to maintain consistency in their source provenance back-stories. But, I’m trying to bridge that gap.”
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I then ask about the handcrafted jewellery line, featuring necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. “Oh, I had a chance meeting with a fruit vendor’s son in Jaipur, who was dealing in gemstones instead,” Annah smiles. “He channelled his enterprising spirit in a fresh direction, inspiring me to do the same.” Ah, the charming wonders of wandering.
Okay, then, why did this contemporary gypsy choose to offer ancient Frankincense as an extension of her brand’s ‘lifestyle accessories’ portfolio? It represents memories of summer evenings in Grandmother’s garden, when the heady aroma of the resin burning in empty coconut shells would cut through the tropical heaviness, partly sensual, partly sacred. Patrons
seemingly can’t get enough of this authentic Kerala frankincense.
Annahmol is, literally, the brand and the person behind it. So, on the subject of coming full circle, I’m tempted to touch upon ‘self-actualisation’ as a personal and entrepreneurial value. I ask Annah what it means for her to be self-actualised in a modern world, filled as it is with rather fickle frames of reference. She replies with elegant simplicity. “It’s about being in a place where I can allow for maximum possibilities, where I meet my fears, but also find my courage. When daily practices balance the physical, mental and spiritual, I can feel myself opening up to infinite creative possibilities on an ever-expanding journey.”