Best of Weekender: A vegan accessory brand, a book influencer, and why women must focus on self-care

This week on YS Weekender, try something new with Riyaz, an AI-enabled 24X7 music tutor, know more about Chennai-based ad company Rage Communications, and learn why women need to prioritise self-care.

Best of Weekender: A vegan accessory brand, a book influencer, and why women must focus on self-care

Sunday May 01, 2022,

5 min Read

Google AdWords data revealed that vegan-related searches shot up by 47 percent in 2020. Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to revisit their choices and rethink their preferences, with veganism and sustainability emerging as top goals.

However, the options for those looking for vegan alternatives were not many.

Till now.

The last couple of years have seen a plethora of startup founders tapping the vegan space, be it food, accessories, clothing, or more.

Mansi Gambhir is one of them.

The creative director and founder of Gurugram-based vegan accessories brand THE GUSTO believes it’s vital to choose vegan and sustainable options over their leather counterparts.

This led her to launch her startup in November 2020.

The Gusto's [goal] was to create bags with sustainable materials and functionality as the sole purpose. Hence, we use only vegan leather, which is essentially a polymer that is a near substitute for leather. It is both cruelty-free and environmentally friendly.

“It has leather-like grains and texture and yet causes no harm to livestock. Since it is a factory-made product, it expands our design options by allowing us to choose from a wider range of colours and combinations. In addition, our product selection includes organic cotton linings as well as vegan suede and corduroy varieties, resulting in exquisite goods,” she says.


From bags, let’s move into books.

Having a presence on social and digital media has become necessary to climb the ladder in any professional field. Those who have built and maintained their social media presence consistently over time are more likely to taste success.

Mumbai-based Vidhya Thakkar, a book influencer and social media strategist who is better known by her Instagram name @reader_viddh, is a good example of this. Having started her ‘bookstagram’ account in May 2017, she will soon complete five successful years of building her book review brand on her own steam.

Vidhya Thakkar

She joins YSWeekender for a chat to give a peek inside the unexplored world of book influencers.  Speaking about the USP of her account, she says it’s her ability to share honest reviews in a very simple and forthright manner.

“Right from day one, I have endeavoured to ensure that each and every person can connect to my reviews and make sound buying decisions. People also appreciate the simplicity – I don’t use fancy words and I keep every review to the point,” Vidhya says.

A book in hand is sure to lead to a song in the heart.

All of us like to hum and sing no matter how cacophonous it might get for those around us. But, what if there is a tool that makes us hit the right notes at the right beat, making it more soothing for the ears?

Gopala Krishna Koduri was thinking on similar lines when he came upon the idea for Riyaz, an AI-enabled 24X7 music buddy in the form of an app.

Riyaz app
This digital music tutor has over 130 exercises and 200 raga and song lessons across disciplines such as Carnatic, Hindustani, Bollywood, devotional and western music. It has over 50+ Hindustani classical music courses covering all the popularly taught ragas and 24+ Carnatic music courses.

The app was launched in 2019 by MusicMuni Labs Private Limited owned by Gopala, a spinoff of the Music Technology Group, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.

Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other — both personally as well as professionally.

The field of advertising, in particular, has undergone a sea change. A prominent advertising firm, Chennai-based Rage Communications has witnessed and adapted to this change over the last three decades.

Rage Communications

“Our original vision for the company was, and remains, being able to deliver robust digital solutions for marketing and marketing communications. These have evolved in terms of nuances, taking into account the evolving digital environment across the spectrum of opportunities that have happened over the last two decades,” explain Founders Karthik Kumar and JRK Rao.

And last, but never the least: health.

When a man has health challenges, invariably his wife is the person doing all that is necessary to support him on his journey. When a woman struggles with poor health, she will place herself last on the list of daily duties. This is not restricted to India. It is still relevant almost all over the world. Eventually, she collapses with something severe, the man is forced to cope, and several times it can be alarming or fatal.

women health
How can we as women support ourselves with a little bit of selfcare amidst everything else that we need to do for those around us and manage our work?

The problem with self-care is not that we do not know we need it. In fact, we probably crave for it. But what prevents us from prioritising it? Does someone make you feel that you are not a priority? Do you feel a sense of guilt when you take time for yourself? Is it the lack of time?

Whatever it is, here’s why all women must manage selfcare along with their many other duties.

Edited by Suman Singh