There is no better way to herald the International Women’s Day than to get candid with the super talented lady who is about to lend her Midas touch to one of the country’s most sought after handbags! Honestly, is there now?! So meet and greet Holii’s new product designer – Sonal Nagotanekar!
Needless to say, I was thrilled to bits at being given such an opportunity by Holii – I’m entirely grateful to them. And as I browsed through her profile, I knew the honor was mine to interview someone as highly qualified as her. Picture this – a bachelor’s Degree in Leather Design from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata and Master’s Degree in Accessory Design from Domus Academy and NABA Milan, Italy. Her expertise lies in handbag and accessory designing, mixed material handcrafted surface techniques and ornamentation, colour and trend forecast, conceptualization and story development, illustrations, technical drawings, bag construction techniques, knowledge about bag fittings, bag collection design development.
I wonder, is anything left out?! So Sonal is, what we call, at least in the software industry, a Subject Matter Expert in everything related to bag design and creation! Hear it from the lady herself!
But we jump in, here is an irresistibly offer – all through March Holii is running an offer by which you get a silk scarf worth INR 1,500 with any bag you buy, with no minimum purchase amount requirement!
1. Tell us about your journey to be the product designer for the highly sought-after bags of Holii.
When I was in school, drawing and craft classes were amongst my favorites. As time went by, I felt drawn towards art and creativity with a liking for the unconventional. It was about then I discovered that I wanted to work with my hands and explore color in my chosen career path. This discovery of seeking out what would keep me excited and my creative juices flowing I came across Leather Accessories Design which was relatively new to me. Realizing that it interested me (which increased over time) led me working on a Bachelor’s Degree in Leather Design at NIFT, Kolkata. During that time, I did my internship with Holii, there; I felt connected to working with leather and was given the ability to experiment. On completing college, I worked as a Designer in a few leather export houses and recognized that I wanted to learn more about leather at an international level. I was lucky to have gotten a chance to attend the prestigious Domus Academy in Milan for my Masters in Accessories which brought me to the fashion capital of the world. The course itself opened my eyes to the way that global designs and processes worked. Some of the projects had collaborative efforts with brands like Gianfranco Lotti, Frankie Morello, Ballin Shoes Italia and project leaders Daniella Puppa (Designer of Christian Dior), Maurizio Modica (of Frankie Morello), Emi Kurebayash to name a few. I participated in “Intrecci inCantiere”, a contest organized by Manifatura di Domodossola where my bag was showcased at the LineapelleFair, Tokyo Leather fair and Lincoln Center in New York. Being away in the West, still had me connected to my roots and I felt it was only right to go back to the place from where it all started. A part of me wanted to give back to the brand which had helped and supported me launch my career as a Designer – Holii! Hence, I applied to Holii and as luck would have it, I was brought back as the new Product Designer.
2. What would be your design inspiration for the upcoming collection that you’d design?
A true nature lover, who has a deep connection to her Indian heritage, describes me perfectly. This connection inspires me every day and in the design work I do.
3. What is the design philosophy of Holii as a brand?
India is evolving and changing so much all of the time. Holii the brand, is synchronous with the contemporary Indian woman, who is fashionably in tune with what is going on with the rest of the world but stays close to her Indian identity. Holii takes pride its Indian origin and celebrates the vibrancy on its leathers with colors and unique embosses.
4. As a designer, how easy or tough is it to blend your design identity with that of the brand?
As Designers we are constantly on the lookout for new ways of experimenting with our passion. Holii, is not just a brand to me, it’s that place to grow and work on my creative skills. It’s like a psychedelic art trip every time we create a new collection.
5. What kind of leather would you be using and why?
Holii uses high quality leathers with intricate motif embosses and multi tone hand padding which come in an array of colors.
6. What demographics of society do Holii bags target?
The great thing about Holii is that there is something for every woman. We identify to the Indian woman, who is up to date with the latest trends. Who is independent and true to herself with a deep sense of her Indian roots. This woman embraces the sights and sounds of India. In Holii, she lives through the colors and the motifs.
7. How different is designing bags from other accessories?
Designing any accessory requires a lot of research, conceptualization and the study of the material to be used.
8. What major handbag trends do you spot globally and which are the ones you are most excited about?
One of the major material trends globally are bags made out of tapestry and suede. In terms of the shape and the type of bag, there is the cross body. I am excited about our upcoming collections as you will see these trends making their way into Holii.
9. How much of potential do you see in the Indian leather industry, esp that there are now legions of small players dotting the e- commerce landscape?
The leather industry has been present at the very start. So in terms of potential, the ecommerce platforms are the way forward for any industry. Holii, is present on all major ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart and Jabong to name a few.
10. What innovations are planned at Holii for their upcoming line of handbags?
The upcoming collections this season focuses on intricate motif embosses in bright colors with attention to detail with a two toned structured shapes. You will see a lot of totes, shoulder bags, laptop bags, slings, clutches, backpacks, wallets and smalls coming from Holii.
11. According to you, what are the three most important accessories every woman must have?
Mint, Perfume and needless to be said, the Right Bag !
12. Do you follow a different approach when designing for Indian clients versus global clients?
Holii sees a lot of customers from both India and across the globe. Our customer base spreads to the Indian living abroad to the International customer as well. Because Holii appeals to the fresh woman who keeps up with trends and the like, we don’t follow a different “approach” as such.
13. What’s your reaction when you see people using the bags you designed?
It is always an exciting feeling to see something you have created being worn and enjoyed. I always welcome feedback from customers as I feel it’s very important to know what a Holii customer wants and is on the lookout for. After all, they are the reason for why we do what we do!
14. What would be your advice to aspiring leather accessories designers?
Keep yourself updated with what is going on in the rest of the world and don’t forget where it all began. It’s that beginning that’s always the hardest part.. After which don’t be afraid to CHASE YOUR DREAMS… IN HIGH HEELS OF COURSE!