How this calligrapher nurtured her passion to start a business with clients like Google, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Gucci and others

In August 2015, Sanjana Chatlani had just started her career as a marketing assistant for Moët Hennessy with fresher vigor and enthusiasm. Having just completed her undergraduate studies in Media and Communication at the University of Mumbai, she was sure to work hard and climb the corporate ladder.

Sanjana had no idea that exactly three and a half years later she would quit the same job, discover a passion for calligraphy and handwriting, and embark on a carefully planned entrepreneurial adventure.

“I’ve always been prone to creativity, but I never thought I could pursue it professionally or make money or business out of it,” she says. His history.

Now running The Bombay Hand Lettering Company, she is one of the best known calligraphers and lettering artists in India, having worked with clients like Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Rolex, The Wedding Filmer, The Ritz Carlton, LVMH, Future Group, Tata Zoya, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Co and Google India, among others. She was also the calligrapher for Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ wedding in India.

Cultivate passion in business

While working for a luxury company as a marketer, personalizing every gift and product was a must. It was around this time that she also noticed a professional calligrapher who frequently came to the office just to write on all the cards and gift tags.

“There I saw the application of calligraphy in a more commercial sense,” says Sanjana, adding that it rekindled her passion for the arts after being in the business of the business and working 12 hours a day sometimes.

In 2017, when her family took a trip to California, Sanjana signed up for a few calligraphy classes in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “I discovered different styles and fell in love. It was calming and meditative with so much attention to detail, and something I hadn’t done in a long time because I was always on the move at work. After I got back I didn’t know what but wanted to do something with it.

Calligraphy became a daily part of her life as she trained for three hours every day after work, created an Instagram page for fun and started working on Diwali and wedding cards for her friends and his family.

After turning to numerous online resources, a ten-day retreat in Italy where she learned different types of scripting, and a year juggling small projects alongside her full-time job, Sanjana decided to quit her job. employment in mid-2018.

“Even back then, when it was just me, I called it The Bombay Lettering Company because the vision was to build something big,” she says.

Listening to market needs

Sanjana Chatlani, Founder, The Bombay Lettering Company

The main activity of the boutique studio was to perform commissioning work for corporate clients, events, weddings and other occasions.

After discussing the client’s needs, he takes care of everything – from ideation to execution of lettering, illustration, printing and packaging, “all handwritten and illustrated” , emphasizes Sanjana.

Starting from zero investments but with commissions earned on projects, Sanjana says word of mouth through friends, family and former colleagues has played a huge role. Being a trailblazer also helped her understand the needs of a niche calligraphy space in the country.

Sanjana initially struggled to get the right tools for calligraphy in India and had to source supplies from friends and family overseas. In early 2018, she decided to bridge the gap by obtaining an import license and contacted big brands overseas whose products were not available in India and also set up an e-commerce wing.

Now the startup is also focusing on educate people in calligraphy by offering workshops to different groups of people, including autistic children. With the pandemic giving e-learning an unprecedented rise, its workshops have “done phenomenally over the past year and a half.” Sanjana hopes to further develop the online learning space.

Having gradually extended to e-commerce and vertical education, the artist says she has become her own competitor in a way. Although it faces little competition in the market at the moment, it welcomes more players in the field because “the more we are, it means a larger market and increased demand for this art form” .

A first challenge was also to educate people. “People didn’t understand and asked how we can do anything with calligraphy. It’s very visual, you have to show people what you can do. I realized that in addition to being an artist and trying to become an entrepreneur, a lot of the work in a company was useful, ”she adds.

Living the dream

From a one-woman army, which was difficult for Sanjana who is a commoner, to jostle from home, she moved to a studio only when she had stable plans and was sure she could pay. rent each month. Now working with a team of two full-time and two part-time employees, Sanjana is able to delegate administrative work and find time to focus on the artwork.

In January 2022, Sanjana will move to the UK to continue her calligraphy studies with a senior calligrapher for three months. His belief is that one life will not be enough to learn all the art and the different types of scripts.

Continuing to improve one’s skills is something any aspiring calligrapher should not compromise on.

She adds, “You can be a great artist, but if you can’t sell yourself or explain what you do, it won’t get you where you want to be. ”

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