Rooted to Kerala - In Conversation with Creative Malayalee Women Entrepreneurs
Posted on May 01 2023
| Identity | | Home | | Belonging |
Starting today, we launch Rooted ~ A series of conversations with creative Malayalee women entrepreneurs, that views their work through the lens of their identity and how that informs their work. We look at how the exploration of their identity has led them to launch businesses that echo the threads that have informed our own journey with Ela India.
Ideas of identity and belonging are subjects that feel more relevant to us as we get older. Our own journey into launching Ela India emerged from an exploration of what it meant to be ‘home,’ what did our Malayalee identity mean to us, how did it inform our work? This journey of self-discovery is by no means unique to us alone but it’s one that led us on this journey to start this business in a town like Palakkad.
In exploring how our personal identity lent itself to shaping our brand, we came to rely on a simple, uncluttered colour palette in our collection, along with motifs that were reminders of Kerala’s landscape, in particular the ‘vaazha ela’ or banana leaf that became a recurrent motif in all our packaging.
On a more abstract note, it led us to explore what the word ‘home’ meant to us personally. ‘Home’, after all, is where we return to as refuge, as a sanctuary. Is ‘home’ a state of mind, or a place? Is it defined by the four walls of a house that are inhabited by memories of all the lives lived in it? Is ‘home’ a moment in time that is steeped in nostalgia?
How do you define home for yourself?
We used this question as a starting point, to explore and engage with, stories of female-led creative businesses, viewed through the lens of meaningful design that is rooted in exploring questions of identity- both cultural and personal. In the next few weeks, you will get to know the stories of these enterprising women entrepreneurs, and we hope you will not only dive into their stories, but also be inspired by them.
‘You will meet a Malayalee on the moon,’ is a joke you have probably heard often, as a tribute to the resourcefulness of the Malayalee diaspora when it comes to investigating and adapting to new shores.
And yet, the most hard-nosed Malayalee shares a nostalgia for the homeland that is quite simply unparalleled. It is a nostalgia that will sometimes bring them back, and in the three stories that we will share over the next few weeks, you will see a common thread running through all of these stories - a return to their roots, to ‘home’ and an exploration of their Malayalee identity, which in turn informs their creative vision.
Photography: Avinash Krishnan
Clothes: Ela India
Videography: Bindu Nair
Note: A very special thanks to Theresa Joseph George, Maneesha Panicker and Anu Cheeran for being a part of our series and to Avinash Krishnan for bringing this campaign to life through his keen photographic eye.
How wonderful! Along with being Rooted to being a home grown business, it will be great to hear such stories for each of us to stay inspired and rooted. It’s such a great initiative, to go beyond the business but to bring to the table all of what you and the brand can bring to us all.