How he turned his granny’s lifelong wish of feeling respected into a businessBinjal Shah
“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die” – Mik Everette. But now, if you want to view yourself through the passionate rose-coloured glasses of a literary aficionado, you need not woo one. Delhi-based startup KagazkePhool will immortalise you in the pages of your modestly beautiful history, with just as much delicacy, candour, and adoration instead.
Belonging to a family where each generation had made their mark in entrepreneurship, it was almost tradition and second nature for Namit Maheshwari to take to business. After completing his schooling from St. Mary’s Academy, Meerut, Namit went on to pursue his graduation in Economics from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce.
It was around his grandmother’s 70th birthday, when he conceived the idea that would touch so many lives so beautifully. “In my pursuit of doing something special for her, I decided to make a book containing letters from her near and dear ones. The birthday girl was in tears when we presented this small token of memories. At the end of the ceremony she kissed my forehead and hugged me on the stage. She believed that those letters gave her what any person looks for in their lifetime: respect and acknowledgement. That night I created the idea of KagazkePhool, a company writing stories of people, only and specially for them.”
KagazkePhool wants to bring back the magic of expression through writing. “Through KagazkePhool, we wish to rekindle the urge in people to pen down their stories, spell out their anecdotes in chapters, reliving the moments bit by bit by getting them written word-by-word rather than summing up life experiences through just phrases, statuses, or 140 characters,” says 22-year-old Namit, Founder and CEO of KagazkePhool.
Memoirs to memories
“The generation gap is a common problem of today’s youth. Young kids are unable to understand their parents. I believe that such family biographies would present new perspective. We can also preserve generations through this.”
They named it ‘KagazkePhool - Turning your memories into memoirs’. “We write stories that people want to share, be it a story of your parents, your friends, or your love story. The stories are not required to spread over half centuries. They can be of a single season, a year or a decade.”
As the company was instated in 2013 while Namit was still in college, he assembled his initial team of writers, editors, and designers in the simplest and most effective manner back then ‑going to different colleges in Delhi University and putting up posters saying “Have you always wanted to be a writer?Get a chance to write your own novel”
The process through which they create the book is called ‘Safarnama’. In a series of successive interviews,they ask their clients to talk about their memories and experiences which they wish to incorporate into the book, and help them thread these memories together to form a narrative that defines their life. The editing team needs to be sure that the narration is in line with the protagonist's style. So, they are extremely cautious about not tampering with the phrases their interviewees use. The content is tailored according to a standardised font and page layout. After the editor approves the draft, it is presented for review to the client, complete with the remaining two sections, for their nod, following which, the digital version of the book is put together and speedily printed.
“We use handmade parchment and rich ink for printing so that your life is truly immortalised in the written word. We adorn the book with high quality material, like velvet, brocade, leather, or just a personalised photo on the cover page of the hardbound book, according to the specifications of the client. Having said that, we avoid romanticising our narratives, and lay utmost emphasis to facts,” explains Namit. The book is finally presented to the client personally in a beautiful wooden case embossed with the company's name.
The sustainability in immortality
With the initial idea of printing biographies, they diversified into personal stories and business biographies. Customers fall within the range of 20‑80 years. "Regardless of the phase of life they are in, they have some moments that made their life worthwhile. Essentially people under the age of 50 years are more interested in acknowledging the people around them like their parents, spouse, or friends," says Namit. Siblings getting books for one another, parents giving a book to their daughter on her wedding day, love stories, grandparents leaving their life’s story for their grandkids and kids acknowledging their parents have been the usual requests.
"We have also done one platinum jubilee book. The stories given to us are bound, the parallels with which we can link them with is infinite. Hence, the most important skill of our job is to find parallels which enhance the essence of the story. For example, ‘Warli art’ was used to describe the storyline for one of the projects,” he adds.
They have made categories of our products as well as sections of our writers. The price structure varies with the number of pages, hours of interview, and material used.
So far, they have self-published around 50‑55 books – out of which, they have also successfully completed some overseas orders. “The initial sales were slow, but now we are completing around eight to 10 publications in a month, triple the capacity with which we had begun.” They are clocking Rs 20 lakhs annually.
They have been bootstrapped since inception, and broke even within seven months of starting operations. They have been using those profits as investment since then. “Having built a strong base in Delhi, we would now like to increase operations to various metro cities of India,” concludes Namit.