| Megha (left) and Garima Agarwal
Theres never a dull moment when putting together a look for a childs room. And if you have Megha and Garima Agarwal helping you out, its sure to be fun all the way.
For, their store, Hopskotch, which specialises in custom-made soft furnishing for children, has it all — personality pillows (one says shopaholic), towels and lingerie bags, theme-based bedspreads and curtains. Appliqué and embroidery are our forté. Our clients children tell us what they like and we incorporate these elements into our designs, says Garima.
It all started in 2007 when the duo came up with nursery linen designs for Garimas baby. Meghas mother, Rashmi, had tailors appliqué these onto the linen, and before they knew it, friends and family who saw these wanted them to design for their children as well.
At this time Megha — a post graduate in business management from Wigan & Leigh College, India — was looking for new avenues after completing an internship with Red FM. Garima, on the other hand, was armed with a Masters in Education from Calcutta University. When appreciation (and the money) began flowing in after we designed the collection for my nephew, we both decided that this was the avenue for us, laughs Megha.
They began by taking orders from their second floor flat in Ajanta Apartments on Gurusaday Road, but decided to convert a separate room on the same floor into a Hopskotch store in 2009. They meet clients by appointment here and also display samples of their products, which are used as reference points for taking orders. A team of five tailors who are specialists in appliqué and other embroidery, and an artist who sketches their designs, work out of the Hopskotch workshop on Gurusaday Road. Megha and Garima also display their designs at lifestyle exhibitions and have in the past participated in exhibitions in Calcutta, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Raipur.
Depending on the amount of appliqué involved, a product can take anything between two and three weeks to finish. The process begins with client briefings, after which they prepare sketches of the designs and follow this up with selecting the fabrics.
While the fabric for the bed linen and curtains is usually cotton from Surat, Chennai or Fabindia, they also source fabrics with cute nursery prints such as cupcakes, dolls and cars from Japan and Korea. For the appliqué, they use non-toxic felt material from Korea and Southeast Asia, which is cut into patterns and embroidered on the material.
The prices depend on the size of the product and how intricate the appliqué is. While a personalised cushion with a name appliquéd on it would cost Rs 1,000, an appliquéd curtain for a bay window would leave your purse lighter by Rs 10,000 to Rs 18,000.
Furnishings for children are dominated by themes such as gardens, cars and flying objects rather than cartoon characters, says Megha. She also believes that the trend for brightly painted rooms is fading. Instead, people are going in for pine wood furniture and playing with colours in terms of furnishing since its simpler and more cost-effective.
According to Megha, presenting personalised cushions with a childs name on it as return gifts during birthday parties is becoming popular.
A striking red Ferrari bedspread (yes, it has the famous prancing horse logo of the brand) is eye-catching. With a contrasting black-and-white striped border, matching red-and-black cushions and a pillow cover that reads Daddys Champ, the set is priced at Rs 6,500. A cotton curtain, with ships bobbing over appliquéd blue waters, costs Rs 6,000.
Hopskotch also does complete furnishings for theme-based rooms, including a bedspread, bed sheet, pillowcases, a duvet, a cushion, floor mats, curtains and a place mat. Prices depend on sizes and the amount of appliqué involved. For a room with a single bed and a regular-size window, a set would cost Rs 30,000.
The hotsellers are the shoe and lingerie bags (they come with plastic lining) with string bikinis, bright flip-flops, shorts and boots appliquéd on them. Tagged at Rs 1,000 for a pair of bags and Rs 550 for a single piece, they are ideal for carrying a childs belongings.
The store also offers a cheerful range of cushions priced between Rs 400 and Rs 1,200 each. You cant go wrong with themes such as the jungle, animal kingdom, princess or sports, says Garima. So, while farm animals brighten up a yellow cushion, a cushion with princess of the palace embroidered on it features an appliquéd crown. The fashionista cushion bearing a motif of, well, a fashionista, is priced at Rs 800.