By Saumya Aymuas:
New. It’s one of my favourite words. As a child and now as an adult, it gives me joy to try new things. That new pair of jeans, shoes, car, restaurant, places – you get the picture. Soon, I came to realise this quest for the new, more often than not, leads to discovering something unique. With these little nuggets of self-awareness, I started ‘The Aymuas Design Project’, where we design everything, not just interiors or furniture. The name is a reflection of what we do – experiment with all kinds of materials and styles to create something that’s one of a kind. And Aymuas is my adopted last name, which is one of a kind, too.
It all started as an experiment, thanks to a friend whose appreciation for my understanding of design, colours, materials pushed me to create common spaces at the Moustache Hostel, a trendy, backpacker hostel in Jaipur and Delhi. The experiment was a success on many levels.
For one, I created a new prototype to facilitate storage, which is always a huge problem for travellers. Since I like my designs to have an element of practicality but detest box beds, I figured – why not design a custom box on wheels that slides in and out from under the bed, looks fabulous and can be used as a centre table or a settee? This worked well. I also experimented a lot with colours, fabric and materials.
The result – every corner of the two hostels has been “Instagrammed” by travellers and backpackers. Since then, one project followed another, and another, and another, and it’s been over two years since we first got started.
Is it hard work? Yes. Are there challenges? Many. The toughest challenge, as an entrepreneur, is to find that ‘magic’ pricing. Fantastic quality means no compromise on anything, so figuring out pricing has not been easy. But it is tough to make people see that unique is a great thing and that shelling out a little more for it, is always worth it. So, you need to convince them with a little imagination. And results.
For instance, the challenge at Moustache Jaipur was that all the corridors were dark and absolutely cut off from light. But I didn’t want them to just want to have things hanging on them (paintings etc). Then it hit me – use broken mirrors. No one was convinced it would work. But I did patches and that was it!
It looks great, the owner was happy and travellers love to take pictures.
It is a small business, currently, and I am not putting pressure on myself to do too much in too little time. I feel that when it comes to design you have got to give it time to evolve. I started drawing and painting when I was very young, and insisted on designing my own clothes as I grew older. I think the seed was always there in me, and while there are many challenges – technical, budget-related etc – the only one for me, is, to crack it.
Often, entrepreneurs come under tremendous amounts of pressure to scale up fast. However, the key really is to build a great product or service first – and then focus on the scale. A bad product scaled up fast will lead to unhappy customers. A good product scaled after perfection will grow more organically.
About five to seven years ago when people started a business, having a website seemed like the only digital option. But today, I feel social media platforms are perfect for someone who is starting out, as it gives them the freedom that’s much needed to experiment as well as instant feedback (a must).
But while, getting more business and having interesting conversations is something that does happen, I want to learn via it as well. Through Facebook, I can connect with anyone in the world and that is huge. If tomorrow I want to learn a certain aspect of the craft, travel some place to get some material or just spend time with another designer or design house to expand my thought process, all of this is possible through this platform. Here’s where I can have real conversations with people. For instance, I have had people inbox me materials and products they deal with to see if I would be interested in using or promoting them.
As I begin my journey as an entrepreneur, all of this gets me a little more motivated to keep creating something new, every day. It has been slow but that is how I like it too. The idea for now, is to do great work and concentrate on building a rock solid foundation. Hopefully someday soon ‘The Aymuas Design Project’ will become a full grown stable business!