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A Personal Touch for Every Gift

As the festive mood of the New Year slowly wears off, we look at the magic that some youngsters have been able to create with their talent, bringing a personalised touch to the gifts that go around in the season and for those special occasions. From Eva Aley Jacob’s  decorated glass bottles and Sam John

As the festive mood of the New Year slowly wears off, we look at the magic that some youngsters have been able to create with their talent, bringing a personalised touch to the gifts that go around in the season and for those special occasions. From Eva Aley Jacob’s  decorated glass bottles and Sam John Verghese’s badges that are sure to brighten up anyone’s day to Anina Elizabeth Jacob’s self-help calendar which encourages introspection, the choices available make the act of gifting a thoughtful process.

Orders for handmade, customised gifts keep these IT Park employees busy outside of their offices too

Anina, Program Manager at Toonz Media Networks, made the illustrated desktop calendar using 12 positive messages – one for each month, with monsters for company. If the month of April asks that one lay aside their apprehensions, November suggests counting one’s blessings. From thinking positively to channeling one’s inner artist, Anina’s calendar is a wake up call to inner joy every day. All 12 pages have an interactive pattern.

Why monsters to convey positive messages? Anina explains the thought behind the idea. “As kids, we always worry about monsters under our beds. As adults, we still worry a lot, but about things that are not real. It’s time we realised that as long as these monsters are in our imagination we have the power to turn them around into something positive,” she says.

Her brand, The Doodleholic was started in 2007 with personalised gifts for birthdays, weddings and baby showers. Professional commitments meant Anina had to let her love for doodling take a backseat. As a college student, just like most people, the last pages of Anina’s notebooks were always filled with doodles. But she took it a step ahead, pursuing a pastime to make it an enterprising venture. While in college she started making illustrated products like notebooks as gifts.

Anina usually makes products on order. She surprised herself this New Year, with orders for her calendars far exceeding what had been stocked initially. “I wasn’t sure about keeping a large stock without pre-orders. I was doubtful if even five pieces of my calendar would sell. But I was amazed when orders started coming in from far-off places like Chhattisgarh and Hyderabad not to mention Chennai and places closer home such as Kochi and Kottayam. There was a bulk order from Bengaluru too. This was mainly through publicity from newspapers, word-of-mouth and social media. I had to restock and have sold around 200 pieces till now,” she gleams.

Priced at Rs. 450 apiece, Anina, who was the creative director of the popular Olam Flea Market in the city last year and has its third edition lined up soon, plans to have her own stall this time. An architect by training, an animator by profession and a doodler by passion, Anina plans to create a hamper of recipe books and cards under her brand The Doodleholic. Anina also goes by the same Instagram handle @doodleholic_anina.

Eva, a Process Associate at Ernst & Young, taps into her joy through Bottled Luv, decorating bottles with paints, threads and beads, much to the glee of her customers. Colours and lights, she says, pep up her spirits, and so she adds a dash of the same to bottles too. The young techie loves gifting, choosing to put her creativity to use and making them herself.

It was a bottle she gifted to her husband for their first wedding anniversary that led to the idea materialising into Bottled Luv.

The bottles are an extension of her love for craftwork. She has sold 55 bottles since starting her venture in December, the season making them perfect gifts for Christmas. “I started out by drawing snowmen and trees on the bottles which I already had at home,” she says. That was a hit during Christmas sales. Customers also ask for photos to be placed inside the bottles. Soon she started collecting bottles from her friends and shopkeepers whom she had developed a good rapport with for pursuing her hobby. Eva calls it a stress buster.

A favourite among clients is her work using lights with bottles, something that, she has been told, make for warm pieces of décor in children’s rooms. With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, Eva is already busy with more custom orders. Her Instagram page @bottledluv has been attracting more orders by the day. Orders are not limited to the capital city anymore with Eva getting enquiries from the USA and Germany. She now has to meet an order for 20 bottles from a church in Madhya Pradesh where they will be used for celebrations.

“Recently, I got an order where the customer wanted a girl holding a guitar and standing with a dog by the beach. This took me almost four days. I have also been asked for Zentagles on bottles, a complex process that I want to try soon,” she adds. Pretty to look at, the process is not easy. The bottles, especially those of perfumes, need to be sterilised with hot water and baking soda. They are then preserved for a few days before Eva lets her imagination take over. The price of a bottle ranges from Rs. 400 to 800 depending on the complexity of work and the time needed.

Wearable Art

Imagination is what led Sam, a junior animator at Toonz, to turn his creations into badges that were picked up like hot cakes at the first Olam Flea Market.

An engineer by training, Sam decided it wasn’t his cup of tea about seven months into a new job in Chennai where he was brought up. Having pursued art as a hobby all through his childhood, the profile of an animator seemed just right. Anina had seen Sam’s doodles before and convinced him to put up a stall at the event. With minimum time to get things done, Sam designed a few badges, tees and notebooks. The response was phenomenal with orders flowing in for fridge magnets, save the date cards and wedding cards. “What makes customised gifts precious is that it encompasses all the details that someone has observed about the person it is meant for,” Sam says.

The artist is holding back on participating in the upcoming edition of Olam, saying this time, he wants to have a substantial collection of merchandise ready. Sam maintains an active Instagram page @the_art_scratch where his latest doodles and badges are posted. Recently, Sam was stumped when he received an order for a badge that had to be customised with a reference to the famous ‘Poland’ comment from Sandesham, the Malayalam film starring Sreenivasan. “I haven’t watched too many Malayalam films growing up, so I had to do some homework with this one,” he says with a laugh. In the meanwhile, may the world of personalised gifts prosper. There are plenty of takers.


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