Three women entrepreneurs find the right mix of art and food in Claytopia


In a quaint house in a quiet lane just off the busy 80 feet road in Indira Nagar, Bangalore, is an art studio cum bistro. It is called Claytopia.Children and grown-ups alike can paint their own pottery and create bespoke art between mouthfuls of great food. While most bistros are defined by the food they serve, it is art that shapes Claytopia's character.

Three young women entrepreneurs, Kavitha Nambiar, Amina Mohamad Ali and Fathima Rizwan conceptualised and brought to life this vibrant space which has been evolving since its inception six years ago.

Photographs by Rahul Balagopal

As we know, being an entrepreneur is tough. Stats show that just about five per cent of entrepreneurs end up working on their original idea, two per cent provide value, and only 0.5% have monetary success. Of that 0.5 per cent, the number of successful women entrepreneurs is minuscule.

And for Kavitha, Amina and Fathima, there was an additional hurdle. “It is extremely difficult to sell the idea of creativity. The value you provide is subjective, and therefore to be an entrepreneur in the creative space is doubly tough,” says Kavitha.

Teething troubles

The studio has an array of pre-molded artefacts made out of white clay, including little elephants, tortoises, plates, piggy banks, coffee mugs, fridge magnets and the like. They call it bisque ware. After you take your pick, they would give you non-toxic colours, brushes, palette, stencils, water and other painting essentials. You are free to sit there for hours and paint to your heart's content. After you finish, the Claytopia team would put your artwork to glaze in their electric kiln. In about ten days' time, you can collect your ceramic art piece.

In the beginning, Claytopia served only art and no food. It was only a studio for children to paint on clay mugs, plates and other bric-à-brac, get it glazed and take it home. While the idea was popular, the business side of it wasn't looking up. Then, about three years ago, they decided to add a bistro to the studio. That clicked almost immediately. As Kavitha explains: "Kids take at least two to three hours to paint. Some even take six hours. They get thirsty and hungry.”

Idea evolution

Although their idea initially was to encourage creativity in children, by providing a safe and friendly place for them to enjoy themselves and create something unique, Claytopia has evolved into a creative community space for adults as well. At any time of the day, you see men and women craning over pottery, frowning in concentration, painting for hours together.They hold birthday parties for children as well as craft carnivals showcasing works of young women. They have so far hosted works of over 30 artists -- jewellery, upcycled bottles, handmade planters, garden accessories, handcrafted mosaic-ware, metal jewellery, bags, tableware, trays and curios. Last year, Claytopia opened shop at Koramangala as well.

“It is hard to find an audience when you venture into the creative space. So we are keen to encourage other women like us,” says Kavitha. "We really struggled. And now that we are on a firm footing, we want to help other women grow with us," she says.


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