IT professional by day and psychedelic entrepreneur by night – that’s Khyati Mehra for you
Khyati Mehra Sharma walks two roads, each with equal passion and love. She is working in the corporate sector for her sheer love of software, coding and writing logic. She is also an entrepreneur, the Founder of Khyatiworks. Khyatiworks is Khyati’s labour of love and its USP are items like cards, mugs etc, that have been hand created by Khyati’s psychedelic and quirky art.
This 33-year-old entrepreneur was born and brought up in Amritsar. “We always had a very supportive and encouraging environment at home to pursue whatever we wanted. I knew that if there was anything that I really wanted to ever do, my family would always stand by me.”
Leaning towards art and painting
A top-notch student, Khyati loved maths and science and when it came to graduation she decided to pursue engineering. Meanwhile Khyati’s love for art continued.
My love for art was always there but I never thought that it would be such a major part of my life. When I was around six years old, there was an image of a Bharatnatyam dancer in one of our books. I managed to copy and draw it so well that I had a hard time convincing my parents it was me who did it!
Khyati was also fascinated by calligraphy and tried her hand at it. “All that I learnt in art during childhood was mostly on my own. Colours always fascinated me and I loved collecting sketch pens, crayons and all kind of coloring materials and books. On my 13th birthday my grandmother gifted me a wonderful book that illustrated various painting techniques and it was my treasure!”
Even in College she continued to paint. She graduated in 2004 and got placed in an IT company. She used to paint on and off till 2008. She shares, “In 2009 I got married and the stability it brought to my life marks the beginning of Khyatiworks.”
The same year while browsing the internet she happened to stumble upon a couple of psychedelic artworks. The abstracts and the way the artists played with colours caught her attention and made her sit up and take note.
“It was like something dormant in me just came to life. From then on, I began painting and made it a major part of me. In the next year or so I had created a number of abstracts and the sheer joy that looking at them brought, made me want to do more than make just beautiful wall art. I wanted the colors, the images to reach as many people as possible. So I started with mugs, notebooks, bookmarks, greeting cards, file folders created out of my artwork prints.”
Her greeting cards were a hit and the bulk order she received for it, got her working on more products.
I loved it when a product was not a direct factory output but rather hand crafted and something that had a creative touch. There were so many brands coming up at that time having colorful designs. I did not want Khyatiworks to get lost in the crowd. So I explored product-creating techniques, and that’s how I found my calling. Khyatiworks is about DIY taken to a whole new level. DIY is mostly using things from home that are lying waste and creating something useful out of it. But at Khyatiworks, I learnt the technique and used the best quality material to create those products. The result was fabulous. Not only was the product unique, but also robust and very resistant to wear and tear.
Khyati had her first exhibition at Dilli Haat in New Delhi in 2012. “It was a 3-day exhibit and the response was amazing. It is one of my most memorable exhibits.” It was her biggest challenge till date as Khyati worked late hours, weekends, after office, to create each piece.
She shifted to Bengaluru in 2013, and has a few exhibitions in the city too, the most recent being ‘Art Bengaluru Festival’ at UB City.
The best of both the worlds
Though Khyati is a part of two different worlds, she manages both equally well. “So at present I am happily managing my web store, working on some new interesting ventures and doing my time IT job of a Technical Manager as well. I still enjoy what I do and till I am enjoying my work, I plan to stay. I’ve not reached those crossroads yet where I have to decide between the two, they both are a part of me,”
Having a steady corporate job has helped Khyati to learn some great lessons, which have come in handy in her life as an entrepreneur. These include professionalism and customer satisfaction. Her 11 years in the corporate sector have also helped her to handle pressure and not crack under it.
Khyati faced the initial teething troubles like any entrepreneur. She was not sure how to approach customers, so she followed her instincts. Though she has settled in there are still challenges she faces.
“At this point, pricing a product gets pretty tricky. I am still working towards it and learning with each day.”
Also since her products are not bulk produced, the sustainability of her brand lies in its exclusivity and she has to continuously re-invent the product line up. “I am always learning and am always looking out for new products which can be given a creative makeover. My mission is to transform as many daily use products as possible and give them a complete makeover. So we are always thinking out of the box.”
Khyati is a one-woman army. At the moment she takes care of everything from product conception to its creation, packaging and social media marketing, except the web store backend which is being looked after by a third party vendor. She has some great support from her family and that keeps her going.
Growing with art
Khyati is inspired by a lot of artists from across the world. “I love intricate art, art which has a lot of detail and depth to it. I love the works of Eli Helmann, Victor Angelo, Thaneeya Mc Ardle and recently I came
across the works of John Bramblitt and I am completely blown away by it! This Artist is visually impaired and you have to see his paintings to believe it.”In terms of her own art and Khyatiworks, she says, “As Khyatiworks is all about unique and quirky, I plan to add more and more products that will amaze and enthrall people just as they do now. Eventually, I want to set up a Khyatiworks boutique in Bangalore. The Store will also have a gallery section where I will put up my Artwork on display. My paintings have been nurtured with a lot of love, and it is very difficult to part with them. So with the Artwork on exhibit, people can buy an Art souvenir and then see the original painting whose image was used to create that product.”
As she moves forward, she plans to onboard a small team that will help her to take care of final packaging, shipping, product finishing and social media marketing.
Khyati has an exciting journey ahead and when asked what keeps her going, pat comes the response –
There is an inner voice that keeps pushing me and doesn’t let me stop. I have a very strong gut feeling that I am going to make it big and that these hurdles are just temporary. There are times when I feel low or the outcome of an effort is not how I desired, and there are times of self-doubt. And invariably I meet someone or get a message from someone saying how much they love my work. And then I know it’s a signal that I have to keep going. Also just one look at my paintings and creations and it’s like an elixir for my soul, then all the highs and lows seem insignificant.