Weaving stories inspired by their roots, Jot and Kalpana create exquisite clothes and jewelry for the Indian diaspora in Canada.
Jot, a registered nurse and Kalpana, a software developer, both took their biggest ever leap of faith to chase their most cherished dream of becoming designers. With labels ‘Jot Couture’ and ‘Sandookh’, they have brought into Canada their quintessentially Indian design sensibility, crafting stunning stories onto fabrics and jewelry.
1. With what vision in mind were your brands ‘Jot Couture’ and ‘Sandookh’ born?
Our vision for Jot Couture is a space where every person who comes to us has access to our designs which are truly inspired by our roots of origin. Working with raw fabrics has been a long time passion of ours. Being in Canada, when it came to buying Indian outfits for weddings of close ones, we felt them to be quite expensive. So we started creating a few of our own garments. When people started recognising the uniqueness of the clothes, we thought we should take it up professionally.
2. Did you see a huge potential for Indian and Indo-western wear in Canada?
Jot: Being an Indian, I realise how important it is to be attached to our roots. Celebrating Indian festivities is a huge part of the lives of people living abroad. We’re very enthusiastic even about small festivals and sourcing Indian clothes is seen as a problem since they are either too expensive or the sort of styles that are preferred here aren’t available. Our aim with starting this venture has been to make affordable and unique Indian designs easily accessible to the Indian diaspora here. Canada as a country is the perfect example of diversity with a society that has a blend of different cultures and religions. Being based in Canada for little over 6 years and having moved around amongst different cities has helped me understand the needs and potential of this market.
3. Do tell us about your jewelry line, what kind of jewelry do you create?
Kalpana: Being a jewellery designer based in Canada, I feel as though a big part of my responsibility is to bring to light the knowledge regarding different kinds of Indian jewellery. My collection has an array of different stuff – Kundan, Thappa Kundan, Polki , Meenakari jewellery, Lac jewellery, Pachi Kundan, Jadau, Punjabi traditional jewellery, gold plated and jali sets. For me jewellery is a thing of such exquisite beauty and I feel every woman should be able to adorn it and feel special. I think my job is not only to create relevant products for the market, but also to make the market understand the relevance of my products.
4. With educational backgrounds which aren’t related to design, give us a little background into your professional lives before your design labels were born.
Jot: When I was little I always wanted to be doctor so I ended up doing Bachelors in Nursing from Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. I moved to Canada in 2014 and started working as a nursing aid. Soon it dawned on me that I wasn’t happy or fulfilled in my professional life.
Growing up I remember playing with laces and fabrics while my mom used to do part time sewing work. So, I decided to take up my passion as a profession. Currently I am a registered nurse in Canada, and hold a class 1 licence ( Truck – Trailer licence) while also running my business.
Kalpana: Being a software developer for 4 years, I took to designing clothes since this is where my passion for fashion finds it’s outlet. I left my job to take this big leap of faith and haven’t looked back ever-since!
5. What are some of the things that inspire both of you?
One common thread that defines our business mantra is ‘customer satisfaction’. Whichever direction we steer our business towards, the most conscious choice we always make is to provide the highest level of service and quality for our customers. Our clientele now are our brand evangelists and we’re inspired by them to bringing only the very best to the table. Raw fabrics, eclectic prints, the amazing art-work on Pakistani trucks and ethnic embroidery forms are some other sources of inspiration for us.
6. What are the three things you enjoy most about your work?
Basically everything! But if we had to list only three, we’d begin by saying that since we are fashionistas ourselves, we enjoy each day at work. What’s most invaluable is the happiness on a client’s face once they fall in love with one of our creations. Being independent, standing on our own feet while doing what we love most is a huge blessing.
7. Give us a peep into your design sensibility and how you manage to keep things fresh.
For both of us, our creative bent and instinct first and foremost is to create something totally unique. Memorable designs come from having a strong design mindset. For us this means a comprehensive approach towards design which is holistic and methodical. We keep a keen eye on new trends, research various fabrics, embroideries and jewelry designs to keep evolving our sensibility