With a degree in Visual Arts and fourteen years of experience, working in Mumbai, Dubai and Singapore, Radhika Mayani's creative journey, from the world of advertising agencies to her current avatar as designer-entrepreneur, has always been about striking a balance between creativity and brand objectives. She speaks to Ayesha Kohli, Editor of Creative Sparq about her stationery and lifestyle brand, left-handesign and her mission of elevating the art of gifting while putting "nature back into people's lives".
Tell me about your creative career.
I worked for many years in multinational advertising agencies where I was responsible for developing campaigns for international brands for print, digital, outdoor and TV: always striking a balance between creativity and brand goals.
After moving to Singapore in 2012, I switched to the client side in the hospitality industry, handling marketing and creative duties for two properties, the So Sofitel Singapore and The Singapore Resort & Spa, Sentosa. Shortly thereafter, I joined the reputed hospitality design firm, , Hirsch Bedner Associates [HBA] as a senior creative.
I have most recently embarked on an entrepreneurial journey designing lifestyle products for gifting with my brand left-handesign.
Why did you make the switch to becoming an entrepreneur? And why choose the area of "gifting"?
As a passionate creative thinker, I had always wanted to launch something meaningful, while exploring sustainability with the idea of giving back in any possible way. Combining all the experience gained over the years made it possible to take the plunge. And so left-handesign, a stationery and lifestyle brand, playfully designed with light and love was born.
Gifting is an experience, that tends to be overlooked in our busy lives. Making someone ‘feel special’ is my company’s raison d'être. A small gesture can enlighten anyone’s mood and a thoughtful gift can make a connection stronger, creating lifelong memories.
Can you elaborate on the "sustainability" aspect of your business ?
left-handesign, was founded with a simple mission; put nature back into peoples' lives. Through our "BUY ONE. PLANT ONE." program, we plant a tree in your name for every product purchased. Along with every purchase, you will find a link to learn more about your tree, it’s location, and the impact you have on our planet, as a result of joining a community working towards reforesting the world.
What are your plans for your business? How have you been building it thus far?
We introduce new collections every year and keep evolving our product lines in line with market trends. Our goal is to penetrate as many markets as possible and to elevate the experience of gifting, while creating unique lifestyle products to suit today's modern lifestyle.
Having an online presence is one of the biggest tools for any small business: essential for reaching one's niche market and create a following. Marketing activities, taking part in lifestyle exhibitions and physical retail locations are few of the other channels we utilise to promote the business.
Do your products have a signature style or specific design philosophy?
What began as a small business creating hand-made cards out of my studio has grown into a brand that celebrates collections inspired by the simple joys of travel, art, nature, food, with its roots in paper goods.
My brand is constantly evolving and I am always evaluating how to expand the breadth and depth of my product line.
What does “creativity” mean to you?
Creativity has always played an important part in my life, from university to the journey of advertising agencies to product designing. It’s a unique expression of one's self translated into any creative form like art, craft, service, food or products.
What personal traits do you think are crucial for running a creative business? Are these something you have acquired over time or have always exhibited even as a child?
Being creative is a trait that I apparently displayed at a young age or so my parents tell me. the They felt my interests were more aligned with the creative disciplines, such as art, drawing, craft etc. So it came very naturally to me as I was growing up and I eventually graduated with a degree in Visual Arts. That then marked the beginning of my creative career.
What or who have been the key design influences in your life?
Travel, art, food, nature are just few of the influences. To be able to translate these experiences into a contemporary and minimal design is an essential concept at left-handesign.
Designer vs. Entrepreneur – where does your passion lie? How do you balance the two roles? What are your strengths in each? What are your challenges for each role?
My passion lies in being a designer. Being a creator is an integral part of who I am. Being an entrepreneur is an aspect that gets cultivated over time and skills get adapated as you go along, atleast that is my case.
Striking a balance between the two is really important to overcome challenges and sustain successes. When you are a designer or a creative, you will always be more attached to a concept or idea in an unexplainable way.
And when you are wearing the entrepreneur's hat you will question every situation or problem reasonably and logically. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time, as one learns new skills to help scale and make decisions that are right for the business.
Who or what inspires you?
If you had to suggest government policy interventions involving the “creative industries” that could make a positive impact on society in your view, what might that be?
More and more industries from various sectors are realizing the importance of Fairtrade practices and employing the underprivileged or associating their business to create a more sustainable impact. It should be a mandate to be associated with organizations that could help unstable families or women or support any other social causes.
Also more Keynote speakers from different walks of life should share their experiences of the industry and inspire the future generation. Creativity is subjective and not everyone is creative.
A brand storyteller, Ayesha Kohli is the founder of communications consultancy, Sparq Communications and the Editor of Creative Sparq. She launched the site in 2017 to showcase different perspectives on creativity and creative thinking. Passionate about people, culture, education, leadership, technology and trends, she loves championing emerging talents and new businesses.