9 homegrown brands that are making Jaipur sexy again
Meet the young entrepreneurs behind the Pink City's cultural renaissance
Jaipur has long been all about inheritances, where generation after generation has carried forward its rich cultural traditions. But over the past few years, its popular image—that of a charming, slow-paced tier-two city known for its crafts, jewellery, a lit-fest and tourism potential—has evolved. A new breed of homegrown design and hospitality professionals is giving Jaipur a contemporary facelift, marrying conventional craftsmanship with modern influences.
Many of these youngsters have studied or lived abroad, and now, inspired by their roots, they are returning to inject their hometown with a fresh dose of international appeal while reverently preserving its history. Like Tejasvi Chandela, the 27-year-old graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, who runs Dzurt, one of Jaipur’s hottest dessert spots, and the artisanal chocolate brand All Things. Or Aavriti Jain, 26, a graduate of Milan’s Instituto Marangoni who returned to Jaipur to open the city’s much loved concept store, Teatro Dhora.
And they’re not alone.
9 fresh brands driving the Jaipur renaissance:
“In terms of design sensibility, people in Jaipur are not only looking at traditional ethnic-wear anymore, but modern cuts with traditional accents,” she says. Paridhijaipuria.com
In 2015, Paridhi Jaipuria, 24, sold out her first collection of womenswear at a pop-up in Delhi. Fresh out of university, the LASALLE College of the Arts graduate had recently quit a coveted internship with Tarun Tahiliani to follow her own aesthetic. The risk paid off, and she launched her eponymous label with the vision of reviving handloom. She wanted to dress modern, enterprising women in ready-to-wear clothes that incorporated Rajasthan’s traditional crafts. Jaipuria has utilised hand-block printing in her work.
Last year, Siddharth Kasliwal, 32, the co-owner of jewellery house Munnu The Gem Palace, ventured into hospitality. “I converted a house into a boutique hotel. I really wanted people to have a homely yet luxurious experience and enjoy organic, healthy vegetarian food,” says Kasliwal. Together, he and his friend, Abhishek Honawar, 33 (co-founder of Mumbai’s Woodside Inn), launched 28 Kothi, a chic Wes Anderson-esque property.
With interiors by the Jaipur-based Lebanese designer Nur Kaoukji and architecture by Frenchman Georges Floret, the hotel is a striking blend of traditional Rajasthani themes and modern design.
Born and raised in Jaipur, Jain, 26, a graduate of Milan’s Instituto Marangoni, couldn’t imagine choosing any place other than her hometown to begin her entrepreneurial journey. In 2014, she launched her concept store, Teatro Dhora. It retails local brands like Chirag Nainani, Polofactory and Ek Taara, as well as labels like Bombay Perfumery and Cord. Additionally, on offer are HMT watches, independent magazines, offbeat furniture, and Jain’s own jewellery and leather products. She is also the founder of Jaipur Basket, a collective of artists and design enthusiasts who’ve come together to help local craftsmen gain exposure.
"Our artisans produce amazing work, but lack the art of branding and promotion,” she says. Dhoraindia.in
Tejasvi Chandela, 27, runs Dzurt, one of Jaipur’s hottest dessert spots. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, she is also the pastry chef behind the artisanal chocolate brand All Things, which she runs with her friend, Kuhu Kochar.
Chandela’s next step is to open a takeaway crêperie at Dzurt, and revamp the menu. For her, the difficulty lies in sourcing fresh produce, as Jaipur isn’t as cosmopolitan as Mumbai or Delhi with respect to food. “Every time I want to make something with passion fruit or raspberries, for example, it’s a challenge. There aren’t enough vendors.” But the situation is starting to improve. Dzurt.com
Brothers and co-founders of bespoke luggage brand Trunks Company, Paritosh Mehta, 34, and Priyank Mehta, 38, also found a muse in their birthplace. “Jaipur’s design sensibility has always been steeped in royal traditions. And we have grown up around embroidery, leather craftsmanship and metal design,” says Paritosh.
Today, they are a team of 50, including artisans. The brand is known for creating highly customised pieces—trunks for a watch collection, and bar trunks are some of their most popular products. “Our trunks are bespoke. The idea is for them to reflect the individuality of their owners,” he says. Each trunk, therefore, requires immense attention to detail and it takes nearly 400 hours to make a single piece. The company has recently launched a travel-themed collection as well. Trunkscompany.com
As a child living in northern Ghana, Ayush Kasliwal, 42, only had clay, wood, sand and stones to play with. There were no ready-made toys, so he had to make-believe. The National School of Design graduate knew early on that his passion for craft could only be sustained in his hometown, Jaipur. And that is where, 10 years ago, he and his wife, architect Geetanjali Kasliwal, 40, started their company, Anantaya.
Anantaya marries the vision of contemporary designers with the craft of traditional Rajasthani artisans. Their Kalam Table, a Scandinavian-style, three-legged side table featuring Rajasthani miniature paintings, is just one of many examples. “Jaipur has all the ingredients to become the country’s art and design capital. It can be cutting edge and modern,
yet rooted,” says Ayush. Anantayadecor.com
Arpan Patel, 30, and Aarushi Kumar, 28, discovered that eco-friendliness spurs their creativity, and that led them to launch their e-commerce portal, Kassa, three years ago.
From bags and shoes, to jewellery and furniture, they make a variety of products. Currently, they have a new range of shoes and bags that are made from a 100 per cent recyclable hybrid fabric that, as Kumar tells us, “looks like paper and feels like paper, but is waterproof and tear-proof”. They’re also big on repurposing: the leather they use for their bags is waste leather, and Kumar’s up-cycled jewellery is made using casting shavings and discarded metal pieces that she collects from factories in Jaipur. Studiokassa.com
Jaipur Modern also has a restaurant, The Kitchen, which serves organic food. The store stocks designers like Rashmi Varma, Rajesh Pratap Singh, and its own collection, along with jewellery and other accessories. The goal, Agarwal says, was “to establish a cultural hub”. In the past, Jaipur Modern has even hosted indie music sessions and poetry readings by delegates from the Jaipur Literature Festival. Agarwal believes that the city is just warming up to multifaceted spaces. “We wanted to set an example,” he says. Jaipurmodern.com
Mumbai-based investment banker Yash Agarwal, 29, whose family has roots in Rajasthan, noticed that Jaipur was fast becoming a hub for international designers and craftspeople such as his long-time family friend, the French-Italian embroidery and textile entrepreneur Maximiliano Modesti (46). They teamed up, and in 2014, founded Jaipur Modern, a boutique retailing designers that fuse modern designs with traditional Indian crafts.
Mumbai’s Neha Deepak Shah, 27,has a staggering CV: she’s the first runner-up from the fourth season of MasterChef India and has worked with not one, but two, top chefs: Heston Blumenthal and Gaggan Anand. Two years ago, Shah embarked on a food-fuelled trip. Upon her return, she decided to team up with her Hong Kong-based cousin Shivika Kothari, 28, to open a restaurant and chose Jaipur as the location.
Enter Meraaki Kitchen, a progressive vegetarian eatery inspired by her travels. The challenges were plentiful. “Jaipur is not an easy city to work in—the pace is slow and no one takes two girls seriously,” says Shah. But she is also convinced that this is the right time to invest in Jaipur. “Mumbai and Delhi are saturated [with eateries]. Jaipur, especially the Pink City area, is fast evolving and crackling with entrepreneurial energy.” Meraakikitchen.com