Suman Sonthalia, Founder, Aakriti Art Creations
Aakriti Art Creations is Suman’s dream come true to enliven the folk art forms of various tribes hailing from numerous parts of silent India such as :Madhubani, Worli, Dogra etc.For the last ten years Suman has been engaged in Warli-styles art forms, a fine art tradition from rural Maharastra reflective of the daily life of village folks.
Suman told Yourstory what Aakriti Art Creations is all about, she says "The formative years for Aakriti Art Creations were only about painting worli art and selling them at various cottage stores. But my husband, Mr. B. B. Sonthalia, took deep interest in my art and encouraged me to pursue it. " Aakriti art creations primarly focuses on -Reviving tribal art forms,women empowerment through self sustainability and self independence for innumerable artisans
Aakriti engages 22 families who produce Handicraft, Tribal arts, Furniture, Paintings, Vases and lamps, Home décor and gift accessories.The art form and their original work have set them apart from others in the same field. The uniqueness of their ideas and art forms coupled with the mixing of different tribal forms lends a whole new twist to their finished product.Suman also believes in keeping things fresh with the designs changing every three months.
Suman explains how a Marwari girl became the successful entrepreneur she is today, she says she was- "A visionary from childhood. Never felt like taking commands from anyone."
Her go-getter attitude and proactive approach to entrepreneurship has helped her sustain the business against market forces.
She had initial problems with generating liquidity in the business.She started with barely Rs 7000/- in hand.With no funding and just an iron will to sustain her, she soldiered on and started selling her paintings at Pragati Maidan for just Rs 250 per painting. At one time she waited for 2 hours outside of a cottage emporium just to show her samples. Her success is testament to her enterprising spirit, where once she only dreamt of earning 50 thousand in a year, today she has 45 employees to whom she pays out a lakh in salary. She is also a celebrated entity in the world of tribal art with Mahima aayog from Delhi Haat, calling on her to impart training on the subject.
Yourstory asked her if she has received any accolades till date, she says "No, I have not received any award as yet, nor has my art been on solo display. In the future I want to teach this art to many other aspiring artists and popularize its patronage."
We asked her if she ever felt like giving up, she said "Not yet.. Aakriti Art creations has seen great organic growth. We invested every money that we got by selling the art forms into the business and we’ve expanded ourselves into many forays. Many more hands have joined us ever since we started and we have helped each other in becoming self sustained in the current economic crisis. By the grace of God, It has been a great journey till now."
By 2010 she wants to make her business bigger and brighter by serving more tribal art forms and craftsmen. She says "I want to help many more artisans come together and lead them in the cause and give them their due respect and financial support that they deserve in keeping safe the dying arts of India. In terms of numbers, I want to meet the 250 families benchmark by 2010.
Suman advises those budding entrepreneurs who similarly dare to dream saying "No dream is too big, if you think you can do it, you must do it !Sapne jarur pure hote hain. Isliye sapne jarur dekhne chaihye! Har insaan ka sapna jarur pura hota hai." Undoubtedly we at Yourstory also agree that dreams do come true.