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Chandigarh-based Colored Rims woos the gifting market with its personalised nesting dolls

Personalised gifting has its magic. Manpreet Singh, Shreya Gupta and Shruti Chauhan, founders of Chandigarh-based startup Colored Rims, are making waves with their hand-painted, personalised nesting dolls.

Colored Rims has been into handmade home décor and kitchenware since 2016. Nesting dolls made it into their catalogue post COVID-19. “Although we had started the concept before the pandemic, calling it ‘Families of India’, it was just a family of three or four, representing different regions of the country, such as Patel Family, Singh Family, Subramanyam Family, Khan Family… We had sent the stocks to some online stores before the lockdown. When the markets opened last October-November they went live with these dolls and there was an overwhelming response from customers,” Shreya says.

During the lockdown, they mulled over giving the dolls a personal touch. “It was a phase when we found support in families and friends. Also a time when business ventures had to reinvent and rethink their strategies, we came up with the idea of personalised dolls. Our first customers were families who had lost loved ones to the pandemic,” she adds.

Celebrating families

To place an order, upload photos of persons or objects on Colored Rims’ website with notes and specifications if any. While the standard nesting doll set has six pieces of 17 cm, 14 cm, 11 cm, 8 cm, 5.5 cm and 4.5 cm, dolls sets of the same size, with each doll measuring 17 cm lengthwise, are also available.

“We have done a set for a family with 21 members. Recently we did one for a startup with 15 employees. When you place the order for nesting dolls, you can specify the order in which you want them. There are customers who come up with particulars such as dress, colour or small details such as moles on the face. Our job is to make the dolls presentable and relatable. Around 60% of orders have pets, usually dogs and cats, to be included in the set. Recently we did one with a turtle!” he adds.

While Shreya and Manpreet handle management and marketing, Shruti, the artist, heads a 11-member team. “Among our artists are alumni of Government Arts College, Chandigarh, and a few speech-and hearing-impaired artists,” Manpreet says.

The dolls are made of eucalyptus or beachwood they source from Varanasi and Channapatna. “The challenging part is that since the dolls are cylindrical in shape, you can’t move the paint brush easily on such a surface,” says Shruti. A self-taught artist hailing from Mumbai, the 30-year-old adds: “When you replicate humans it is like a caricature and there are some standard features in all the dolls. But in the case of pets, we keep it realistic.”

Dream come true

The three friends were among the first batch to pass out of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bhopal, with a Masters in Fashion Management in 2015. “We shared this dream to do something on our own. But before that, we wanted to take up jobs to get some experience. So we worked in separate sectors for some time. One day, Shruti got in touch with us. She wanted us to explore the handmade market and, eventually, we started Colored Rims,” says Shreya, 29, from Lucknow.

They chose the name because Shruti was always mesmerised by the patterns her paint bottle caps used to leave on the table every time she was painting. “Those colourful rim patterns planted the idea of creating a unique experience of art and colours for every home. Hence, Colored Rims became our identity,” Shreya explains.

The startup was launched in Bengaluru. They started out by retailing art and craft products at different airports in the country in association with leading brands. They fused traditional Indian art and craft like in the case of their vintage toys with Warli, Madhubani or Kalamkari work done on them.

In 2017, they moved to Chandigarh, Manpreet’s hometown. “Demonetisation and introduction of GST put us on the backfoot. Besides, Bengaluru turned out to be expensive. Moving to Chandigarh saved us a lot on expenses and also brought us closer to Saharanpur, our main manufacturing hub,” says 30-year-old Manpreet.

Among the brands they have worked with are Chumbak, The Lotus House, Delhi Craft House, Home Artisan, Jawa India, Ford India, Jaypore.com, Zwende.com, LBB, and Jharonka, to name a few.

Personalised dolls are priced between ₹1,895 and ₹3,995 (for a set of six). The dolls are delivered within 12-15 days of placing the order with an eco-friendly packaging. For priority orders, one has to pay extra ₹750.

Check out https://coloredrims.studio/ or their Insta page, @coloredrims

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