Life is full of surprises and the story of Avantika Heblikar stands testimony to that. A public relations consultant who then switched to social media consulting, Avantika is now a social entrepreneur and the boss of her own brand, Rustic Motifs.
Being part of a Maharashtrian-Kannadiga household, atypical to most families in Karnataka’s multi-ethnic North, Avantika —who hails from Dharwad, is no stranger to a rich tradition of arts and crafts. Reminiscing the days of her childhood, Avantika goes on to mention, that apart from being extremely supportive, her parents went way beyond their means to ensure she and her siblings were raised well.
Her parents never pressurized her about choosing mainstream professions or courses like a typical MBA or engineering and urged her to do something different. With a flair for the arts from a very young age, Avantika studied Bharatanatiyam and Kathak as a child and went on to pursue journalism and mass communications at the masters’ level.
“We launched Rustic Motifs about 6 years ago. Merlin (a good friend) and I worked together in our previous workplaces (Corporate Voice, Weber Shandwick, and LeadFormix — a Callidus Cloud Company) and we shared common interests. One day while talking about our love for handicrafts, literature, and food, the idea to do something on our own cropped up and that’s how it all started”, says Avantika enthusiastically.
Rustic Motifs was initially conceptualized with the idea of bringing together Indian handicrafts, food, and global literature — but the duo narrowed that down to handicrafts. Today, the team works with a lot of artistes, artisans, rural self-help groups and women empowerment communities; and Avantika ensures their work reaches a larger audience and finds more market acceptance, all the while assuring the craftspeople — improved financial health, a better lifestyle and a sound future — in return.
An interesting fact about the products sold through Rustic Motifs — they are environment-friendly and handmade, using naturally available raw materials. “But it isn’t easy!” exclaims Avantika. “It’s quite a challenge to establish trust with the grass-root artisans because many commoners undervalue the work of the rural artisan and end up not paying them at all for the services they provide.”
The road to building a noteworthy brand has never been easy. However, Avantika has managed to come this far on her journey because as an individual she is always in control of her thoughts; thinks positively and always plans ahead; setting a constant set of new-timely goals for Rustic Motifs.
She has worked her way up in contributing to the country’s economy (handicrafts and handlooms being the most exported), regardless of its magnitude, through Rustic Motifs. Her work has also brought in a lot of appreciation from her customers, which has motivated her team to do better with every artisanal product they bring into the urban market. Her drive to make this a bigger brand is drawn from the everyday learning that she gets while working with her artisans. Apart from being just inspired, she is awed by their skills; their ability to keep up with trends and willingness to adapt to newer technology.
Her success is the sum of all her small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Right now, she spearheads the company single-handedly and the team is amid designing and creating a whole range of corporate souvenirs for bulk sales with an art form from Karnataka. Her aim is to get more corporate firms to take up to handmade gifting because these little gifts they buy for their clients, customers and employees will go a long way in showcasing the rich heritage of the country, while also helping local artists find new markets.
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