Juhi Verma from Dukaan India lives and breathes creativity. Entering her apartment in Malad, the first thing that struck me is the melody of colours all around. Amidst fairy lights, Urdu poetry frames, a small mandir and lots of printed cushions is Juhi Verma, busy turning a regular plastic cookie jar into a jewellery box. “I can’t throw anything,” she laughs as we settle down to a cup of tea and some conversation.
I am immediately mesmerised by the fancy doodled mugs as she goes on to tell me how it all began. “I used to sketch when I was younger so I did know the basics but I had never thought of it as a proper job. However, last year, I quit my job, and I was getting quite frustrated and bored. One day I ordered tea from outside (yeah that’s how bored I was) and I ended up scribbling on those cups. It looked nice and I uploaded the picture on Instagram. I was really surprised by the appreciation and what was even more shocking was getting an actual order from someone I knew.”
“Honestly it was more of a stress buster for me. To get money for that passion was just amazing,” she adds.
Despite selling her artwork on social media, there are several corners in the house dedicated only to her doodled work. “I doodle every day whether or not I have an order,” she tells me as a way of explanation. “We all wake up with a certain mood every day, and all I do is translate that mood on paper. That’s my biggest inspiration.”
And how is her product different from what everyone else is doing. “Everything that I do is by hand, so no one product is the same as the other. Even for a bulk order, each piece will have its unique factor. Everything is exclusive,” she smiles.
Talking about the process, from a thought in the customer’s head to the final product, this is how it all gets done: “When a customer tells me about what they want, I don’t just take that as my final feedback. I try and ask a lot of other questions, ‘what does the person like’, ‘what is their day like’ and I doodle an entire story around that, and not just one image.” She further explains, “If someone tells me that they want a music theme, I try and weave a story around it. Apart from the obvious things like radio and music symbols, there will be several things around it too. Personal touches like their love for travel, their obsession with selfies, their preferences for a particular artist, etc.”
In a house filled with doodles (there are cute stick figures even on her switchboard), what is her favourite. “I started with coffee mugs so I have to say I love them the most,” is her answer.
We end the conversation with an insight into her plans for the next year. “I want to set up my website for one. It will be easier for people to buy my art that way. Another thing I want to get into is teaching. I love doodling, and I would love to share the passion.”
Photo and Video Credits: Stabak Sengupta