Suman Sonthalia “I believe that whether a customer buys in small or large quantities, they should always receive their money’s worth with a quality product.” emphasizes Suman.
Suman Sonthalia is an Artist and Interior Designer who is converting our homes into niche, feel-good aesthetic places that catch our eyes. She is also an Entrepreneur and Founder of “Aakriti Art Creations”, a vibrant enterprise creating exquisite handcrafted Furniture and Home Décor products.
With an eye for perfection, Suman has crafted her products with intelligent, innovative and awe-inspiring designs. Besides, all the products of “Aakriti Art Creations” are handcrafted by underprivileged women of India who receive Suman’s continued guidance and support for skill development. Know more about the imaginative craftsmanship, products and vision of Suman in this candid conversation with Storiyaan.
Suman Sonthalia: Refashioning Homes
Questions and answers
What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
I have been creative ever since I was a little child. Moreover, I was a witness to various forms of art and crafts in my birthplace. As I grew up, I came to know the limited reach of our traditional art forms in the metro cities. This made me convert these art forms into utility products for greater reach. And that’s how I decided to turn my passion into my profession.
To conquer a demanding audience, it is truly important to be informed about the latest trends in the field. How do you achieve this while designing a new product?
This was the greatest challenge I faced when I entered this field. I saw that my audience is aware and demands new designs and good quality in relevance to the pricing. Therefore, my team and I always keep myself updated, conduct research and experiment with our products to learn the new trends while designing each product and it helped me make the best of my products.
How do you introduce newer products and re-invent your designs?
I am familiar with all art forms of India and I know how to design these with perfect colour combinations. Initially, I started approaching people through social media which helped me get feedback to improve my products. Moreover, we also interact with our audience to know their idea which helps us re-invent our collections and introduce newer products in the market.
How do you ensure the best quality for your products?
Product quality makes and breaks your bond with the customer. Therefore, we keep a detailed check on the raw materials along with additional controls for eco-friendly products. Hence, raw materials are sent for product-making only when they qualify the initial checks. Our brand believes in creating products with the best quality only and we never compromise on that.
What are some of the skills that you look for in your employees?
My main goals include skill development and women empowerment. Therefore, we provide a training session for female craftsmen. During this process, we observe their progress, solve the problems they face, which work suits them the best and later assign them suitable work accordingly. Some of the skills include working on clay products, Indian artwork etc.
Could you tell us and our readers about some of the most coveted product of “Aakriti Art Creations” and how our readers can reach out to you for them?
Terracotta art is our most coveted product as it was the first product offered by “Aakriti Art Creations”.
All our products are available to be purchased on Amazon or Flipkart or our website http://aakriti.store
What kind of home decor is best suited for your products and what are some of the products that you would suggest for a western interior design?
Most of my products are designed in such a way that they easily suit any interior design. Often a subtle home decor is complemented well by a vibrant art design. Therefore, even our traditional designs work well with westernized interiors as they offer a bohemian look. In addition, we offer a product line in the range of silver, gold, copper-based designs which suits western interiors.
You have been honoured with several prestigious awards and accolades over the years. Would you provide us with a sneak peek of your experience receiving the President’s National Award for Master Craftsperson in 2011?
I have dreamt of visiting the presidential house. Therefore, it was a dream come true when I got invited there and receive such a prestigious award. I still get goosebumps thinking about the moment. I am beyond grateful and utterly speechless to share how much it means to get recognised by the Hon’ble President.
Suppose a customer likes a particular product but wants it in a different colour or shape, do you provide the options for customization?
“Aakriti Art Creations” believes in customer satisfaction and thus customizations are always supported by us. In the case of smaller items, we are not able to work on extreme customization but when it comes to furniture or pottery we are always ready to create according to our customers’ requirements. Therefore, yes, our team makes all necessary changes in terms of shape, size and colour.
What is one of the major problems that you have found when dealing with customers, especially with products and prices and what is your strategy for dealing with such customers?
Often an interested customer complains that our products are beautiful but expensive. In such cases, we explain to them the value and speciality of the products. I elaborate on the unique raw materials, the detailed craftsmanship, durability and sustainability. Apart from that, we also try to offer discounts and sales for budgeted purchases.
1. The biggest setback to the art and craft industry- The unwillingness to carry on traditional art
2. Your favourite form of craft –Warli painting
3. The secret to your professional consistency – Love for my creativity
4. The biggest misunderstanding people have about your brand – Expensive
5. Your greatest source of inspiration – My mother