Designer-maker Arati Devasher grew up in India, moving to London in 2009 along with her husband. Trained as a graphic designer, and working as a book designer, she has painted and drawn all her life. She began painting silk in 2013, launching collections of silk scarves, ties and jewellery under her own label Arati Devasher: Painted Silks in 2014.
Arati herself creates each piece at her studio in Finchley, London. Each scarf is individually hand-painted. No two are identical, and each is luxurious pure silk, packaged in a stylish gift box.
Influenced by her Indian heritage, Arati’s designs feature repetitive geometric patterns and florals in vibrant colours. Her speciality is custom scarves, translating clients’ dreams into reality on silk.
Here, we chat to Arati and find out more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I launched Arati Devasher: Painted Silks on Etsy in 2014, and now I also have my own website. My background is in graphic design, and in fact have been a book designer for over 15 years and still am.
The real impetus, though, to begin my own brand, came when I diagnosed with a chronic illness in 2012 – it was a real wake-up call about life in general; about not wasting the time I had left. I made a conscious decision to include more creativity in my life in the present rather than dreaming about doing it some day.
Having drawn and painted all my life, I began to experiment with paint and different mediums. The moment I painted dye onto silk fabric, I was hooked. That’s what my brand is all about – hand painted silks, each individually made by me.
What’s your background?
I am Indian, brought up living all over north India. I trained in graphic design at the College of Art in New Delhi, then got my first job in advertising. It wasn’t my cup of tea, so I was lucky to then find my perfect job designing books. My husband Dhruv and I moved to the UK in 2009 for his career, and it now feels like home.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
I am a one-woman brand. I make each piece at my home studio in Finchley, London, and do all the social media, admin and everything else myself. My husband is all-round morale-booster and tie-model as well as assistant whenever I need help.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
I think I would have asked for more help when I needed it. I do remember struggling a lot trying to manage everything myself, hesitating to ask for assistance even from family. It’s a challenge a lot of women I meet face – asking for help feels like admitting you can’t do it, like a failure of some sort.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
I think PR and telling people about my own brand has been the hardest challenge… it’s the same way for many designer-makers I know, it feels too much like bragging or boasting. But, as one mentor said to me – if you don’t tell people about you, who will? Changing that mentality really helped.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I’m pretty introverted, and it really takes an effort for me to come out of my shell, talk about myself and interact with people.
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
In 2017, I’ve done trade shows like Pulse London and Top Drawer, with a view to having shops stock my work. Let’s see how it goes into 2018.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
There’s not just one – I still jump for joy every time a customer writes back to me about how they enjoy their purchase – it becomes the new highlight of my business. No matter how much you achieve, when someone says they love something you made for them, that’s always the best feeling in the world.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
London. I’ve not yet been to Paris, and New York felt too hectic when I last went there as a child. Also, I’ve grown up reading books about London and by British authors, so it felt familiar even when I first moved here.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
I always wear concealer, spf moisturiser and lipstick or lip pencil … all by Mac.
Wearing what you like and think suits you, regardless of trends or age.
Best thing about London to you?
The freedom of choice to be who and what I want.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Always a shoe. I’m not really into bags, but am obsessed with finding comfortable yet stylish shoes for my wide yet small feet.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
I do wear a scarf with everything, every day, whatever the weather. I’d also say a pair of navy trousers because they will go with anything.
Favourite love song?
Somewhere Beyond the Sea.
Best place for a coffee?
At home, on a rainy day, sat by the window with a warm (not hot) cup of south Indian filter coffee – I don’t like any other kind.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
‘Just be yourself’ – I’ll always remember that and do what feels right to me. A million people could and in fact do tell you what they think you should do, but at the end of the day the only thing you can do is what you yourself feel in your gut is right.
It’s always going to be food – having restrictions on my diet means that my guilty pleasure is always something I can’t eat, like steak or seafood or crisps.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
My favourite place or thing to do keeps changing – at the moment, I would really love 24 hours in Greece, where I’ve never been.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
I’m working on stocking my work in shops at the moment… long term, it would be fantastic to be able to open my own shop/studio combination.
Find out more…