Carrying forward Amma’s legacy was easy for Padmini Padmini, the question, however, was how to elevate it. Padmini attributes her success to the powerful personalities of her mother and grandmother who moulded her today. Her mother had set up Tharangini in 1977, a labor of love across three decades, helmed to perfection for Padmini to either carry forward or let go. Whilst being very sick at that time, Padmini’s mother said to her, “I’m satisfied with Thrangini and what it has achieved in three decades. Do not feel pressured to take it forward. Do it only if you want to; find your own journey with it.”
Padmini was never pressured to be the family’s torch-bearer. For two decades, she worked in corporate with Fintech firms, and only moved to India ten years ago, still working in corporate. The decision to pick Tharangini was something Padmini always foresaw herself doing, having grown up in a family rich with culture and the company of artisans.
Shortly after her mother’s demise, Padmini poured herself into her family business and developed Tharangini towards phase two. Joking that Tharangini is a sister in the family, and part of the estate, Padmini acknowledges how karigars and artists have been an imminent part of the culture she was exposed to growing up. Their families have grown up with Tharangini just as much as she has.
Judging by the incredible height that Tharangini is touching, not only in terms of business but also social and cultural impact, one could say that Padmini has indeed found her own path with the studio. With changing times, Tharangini has adapted and thrived. The studio preserves an ancient art form and honours artists – who, despite India’s rich cultural heritage, find it extremely difficult to find their place in society – while simultaneously finding a connection with the millennial generation.
“The first mission of sustainability is to preserve the handicraft in all its details, else you’re eroding the art form,” she says. This also applies to the way Padmini has continued the business. “Ethical, organic and sustainable” are the core values that the studio is rooted in, and it furthers its business by tying up with national and international brands that share these values.
Padmini’s role was to pivot Tharangini into exports and diversify what they were doing; get into new verticals like furnishing; experiential tourism and education. Times have changed, pushing companies to constantly innovate, and Padmini, being ahead of the curve, wanted to create sustainable changes to the model, making it better suited to this era. She still runs it as a social enterprise to preserve the cultural heritage of the country and its communities. Tharangini’s workshops are open to students and tourists alikes, and were huge attractions before the pandemic. Designers and researchers visited the premises to learn about the intricacies of the art form.
Aside from being a beacon of preserving an utterly underappreciated art form in the country, Tharangini has been able to create an impact by being inclusive in its practises. It was recently awarded the Global Eco Artisan award for a stole submitted by the studio which was hand-loomed by the inhabitants of a leprosy rehabilitation centre in Bihar. Similarly, artists from Tharangini have tied up with Asha Foundation for Autism to run workshops for autistic young adults. “The results have been magnificent. We’ve helped train women artisans with special needs, and we’re planning to continue and expand this post-covid” says Padmini.
For someone who values a sense of community with the people she associates herself with, Padmini says she’s glad to be part of a cohort of such driven and successful women. “The mentorship and support of my fellow entrepreneurs is amazing. The programme has really helped me understand certain basics of running a business since I’m not from that background, but it’s important to be on top of such stuff when you have to decide for the future of the studio.”