In Conversation with Debasmita: Founder, AADIKARA
P: How do you feel about your work showcasing in one of the world’s most coveted fashion events of the year?
D: I’m out of words. I never thought we’d get there. Especially not this year, with the pandemic. When Papreeka offered the opportunity, I had to take it.
P: Tell us about your journey; as a brand as well as an individual.
D: I graduated in Fashion and Lifestyle Accessories from NIFT and did my Post-graduation in Ceramic and Glass Design at NID. When it was time to choose my final project, I thought why not combine the things I learned? That’s how I started Aadikara. I worked with artisans from Firozabad, mostly on glass, making different shapes and forms out of it, exploring possibilities. The process of flame-blowing really interested me. Later, I realised there was not much glass jewellery making in India, and I knew it would be a challenge. I had to create a market, but it was a great journey getting here.
I grew up in Bihar. We lived in the middle of a forest. My hobby was going around the house, watching flowers and birds. Looking back, that’s where my inspiration comes from; observing nature and learning from it. I like noticing details and incorporating those into my designs. I believe that’s what stands out in my work.
P: Which year did Aadikara come to life?
D: I registered the brand in 2017 but the process started around 2015. I was exploring for the most part, especially with the market and how people were responding. I couldn’t spend a lot then, because it was then just a dicey, self-sponsored thing I was trying out. Then it started growing. People liked what I made.
P: Apart from your innate love for nature, what do you think inspires you to keep creating?
D: The craft itself inspired me, especially Glass-blowing and Flame-work. I was never a fan of watching television, but the first time I saw on TV how test tubes were made, I was so mesmerized at how you could do so much with a simple rod of glass. I was little then and already into the craft. After my first trip to Firozabad, I came back mind-blown and decided to pursue PG in glass-making. I went ahead with Ceramic and Glass Design at NID. When we went back to Firozabad and worked with artisans. The process is such that you heat a glass rod until it’s red hot in the consistency of honey and then you can blow it to any shape. It’s difficult to handle the material because it’s hot and will drip. But to artisans who have been perfecting it for 20-30 years, it comes so naturally. It’s magical to watch.
P: What is an unexpected turn that the pandemic brought about?
D: A huge factor that kept me going was the drive to support artisans. China was a huge, influential market before it closed down. I wanted to introduce something that could support their craft and in turn, sustain livelihoods. We were doing good until the pandemic. I had six artisans working with me and they were at the brink of losing their only means of income. I didn’t stop working for the longest time, but with the oxygen shortage being a crisis, we had to take a step back. We needed oxygen for flameworking, but there were covid patients whose lives depended on it. During that break, I managed to keep our artisans, supported with my savings.
Another issue when everything closed down, I couldn’t send out orders. The possibility of not being able to bounce back, or worse yet, not being able to support our creators was a major fear all through the pandemic. It’s the cost of taking on such a great responsibility. I had to relocate my base from Ahmedabad to Kolkata. I’m rebuilding right now.