It used to be both a treat and a learning curve to watch Latha Chandramouli drive her Mahindra Scorpio. The SUV would squeeze through the narrowest of lanes along shopping stretches of the city without a scratch and be parked with the ease of a hatchback in the most congested school zones. The 42 year old is no different steering her career, away from the plush environs of corporate life to getting her hands dirty with her entrepreneurial dream.
What began as a hobby turned into a full fledged business venture. Her array of exquisite handmade items would raised our eyebrows as ‘Just Light’ was poised to light up many lives. “I had no plans to scale up business and initially started out to help and encourage special kids in my neighbourhood.” But impeccable quality, customised designs and word of mouth are bigger than paid advertisements and marketing. In four years, Latha has set up her own exclusive place with her proud collection. From corporate gifts to wedding accessories to home decor to return gifts to something that is on your mind but not easily available, most items are customised for you. Tucked away in a posh bungalow rented from her Architect friend Ranjani Ramanathan’s parents, The Light Up Store at Karpagam Gardens, Adyar, is a one stop creative solution. What is unique is the handmade boxes made by her unit. The snug fit, matching colours, saree boxes with thematic designs and customised names in individual boxes, are to be seen to be believed. These boxes are for keeps. Sturdy and artistic they themselves can adorn your shelves. Bulk orders or just twenty pieces, The Light Up Store can meet your needs. Big budget or shoe string ones, The Light Up Store is the best value for money. Latha even exports to over 60 countries and has made Indian weddings abroad truly light up with her wedding collections.
Some people underplay their achievements and Latha will top that list. Almost as a passing reference she mentioned that she supports 200 men and women in a pottery unit and about 20 underprivileged women in her polti and box making unit.
The challenges along the way were not just financial but began at home as well. The ‘Harried Potter’s’ dad who was initially sceptical whether her ‘art and craft’ career could ever match up to her well paid corporate job at Airtel is a happy man now vouching for entrepreneurship. Ably supported by her husband Krishna, Latha continues to keep thinking out of many a decorative box.
(Vidya Pinto is the Director of Silver Tongue Academy Resource)