Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our Samurai turns 66!! Happy Birthday Babba!

“Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
Psalms 1:1-2

Dearest Babba, 

It's your "all sixes" (66th) Birthday and I choose to call you my Samurai because, you are a toughened fearless warrior that never gives up :) I know the past days have been rough on you but, your grit and determination to fight back swells my chest with pride and fills my heart with admiration and love. Meera and I look up to you Babba jaan because you are like no other! We both take that gift from you and try and live our lives with the same values. You've given us the stubbornness and resourcefulness to live life to the fullest. 

 We love you tons and wish you a great great Birthday day, like so many you've given us. It's wonderful to see you so happy and excited as we celebrate many many more fabulous years of you. Wishing you more strength and might.

We are constantly inspired by you! 

Love you! UUMMMAS!


PS Be good to your tummy till you can pop that bottle of champagne soon ;-) 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy 2 you Franny and Zooey!

Disclaimer : This post is written by an overly doting Aunt! Franny and Zooey are the most loving and gorgeous kids and grandkids in the entire Damji clan ;-) 

Franny and Zooey came into our lives on a nippy November night, all huddled up in a plastic basket and shivering with fear. Except for their Mum, none of us were particularly thrilled with the idea of having to take care of two babies day in and day out and be solely responsible for two living beings for a long time to come. The Sista had been urging us for years that she'd wanted pups home, but we just didn't think it was possible with a crazy work schedule and no house help. So when the Mister and I were out vacaying in the jungles down south, with no telephone connection, the Sista calls up a pal of ours and decides she's adopting Franny and Zooey at the earliest. The girl had made up her mind this time and Franny and Zooey had been returned by various people in a span of a week cause they couldn't handle them. Destiny had already cleared the way for Franny and Zooey to walk into our lives and fill it with love and joy! 

They came to us when they were just over a month. So tiny and scared. The Sista so naturally got into Mommy mode the time she held them in her hands and in a few days, the Mister and I were the most hands on Aunt and Uncle, scouting around town for pet shops to shower them with gifts. Yes we even learned to clean up their poop :) FnZ like we call them, instantly brought our most indulgent, affectionate, loving, gentle, nurturing and forgiving sides bursting out in abundance. 

A side of ours we'd never experienced before. Yes it was like being parents. The Sista was very efficient on her own and the Mister and I would chip in on weekends and when Meera was unwell. FnZ weren't difficult babies at all, they just ate tons of cerelac and pooped alot hahahaha Those times were exhausting. But, they were aware they had a very hardworking Mum and adjusted to her work schedule instantly. The chewing everything phase was particularly trying but, on the brighter side they helped us declutter the apartment and our lives incredibly well!! They streamlined the Sista's home, life and most importantly the work center of the home - the humble kitchen!! With pride I can say, they have grown up on homemade food cooked by a Mommy that only made eggs and chai when pushed. Such was their love and affection, that they had the neighbours on all floors to the security guards fussing over them. 

They have over the past two years soaked in all the Damji family values and turned out to be the most adorable and friendly kids a family could wish for! Our babies win the hearts of all in a second :) They fill each day with sunshine and extreme joy. The house became a home the moment these 8 paws stepped in. 

Their Second Birthday had to be a day filled with cake, treats, swimming, tons of running around and most importantly, their 25 friends from all across town. So we had a beach party for them and the rest of the kiddos on the Sunday that went by. Doggy parties take in alot of planning like any kiddie Birthday parties, right from the cake to snacks to return gifts. FnZ have the best pals with the cutest names and the most warm pet - parents. 

6 am Sunday morning we get to the beach and then trickle in their friends. Sophie and Bella (Sisters) come in early and then come Heidi, Ray, Bolt, Oskii, Bugz, Casper, Tasha, Figo, Peanut, Puppadam, Waffles, Poochu, Zella and Zorro.  We had some surprise guests too - Leo, Superman, Bruno and their local friends from around the beach. Chloe, Sasha, Disco, Ozzy and Simba couldn't make it to the party :( 

There was oatmeal and chicken cake, gluten free cookies and treats to take back home and cute name doodles on paper doilies (courtesy the sweet Umbrella Bar gurl) as return gifts. The kids ran around the beach, swam in the water, rolled in the sand, played fetch - fetch till the sun was too hot to bear. The pet - parents meanwhile oohed and aawed over their babies, munched on some gorgeous, melting in the mouth lemon tea cake baked by the Sista along with sandwiches and hot tea. The fun was over before we knew it, but the kids were exhausted and coated with sand and had to be taken home for a hot bath before they fell asleep. Perfect doggie day! They even came home with a bag full of such thoughtful Birthday gifts from everyone. 

Sooo much love was seen this Sunday with FnZ and the whole lot of their pals. We never quite fully understood love till we had these babies come home to live with us. They are our biggest miracles. I can hear them say I love you too each time without us even saying I love you to them! I pray they have a healthy and loooooong life and am so so thankful to God, he chose our home to send them to. Let's raise a virtual toast to that, shall we! Cheers! I hope you enjoi looking at the pictures so much that you run out and get some paws to live with you too :)) Have a great week and thank you for reading! 

Much Luvs,


PS. The names Franny and Zooey come from the Sista's favouritest writer Salinger's novel by the same name :) 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sebastian and a Shop Update:

Yum fabric arrived home last week from iTokri and they weren't going to be sitting in neat folds in my cupboard, they just had to be put to use right away :) I get asked to make wallets often so I sewed up the humble two pocket wallet. These wallets use such simple construction but show off the beautiful fabric..don't you think so? I've had one of these wallets for the past two years now and it's just the right size. I stuff my phone and keys too when I'm rushing out to the supermarket. I carry a few cards and bulge in some coins as well :) 

Hahahaha don't miss the thread bits stuck to the flap. I quite like to think that walking around with thread bits clinging to my clothes all the time, I quite make a style statement eh ;-)

This is the first sewing project I'm taking up since this month, so things aren't at a pace I'd like them to be. But I'm sticking to wallets and clutches this month. There's something really happy about sewing purses and wallets, I can't say why though. You can pick up these wallets here if you'd like to take one home. They are nice and sturdy with layers of interfacing and hence durable too. The snap buttons make them look like they've got a pair of droopy eyes hehehehe. I've played with different kinds of interfacing this time, so if you own one from the earlier batch, this one is much stiffer. 

Meanwhile, some happy friends have shifted in with us and make me smile each morning and sultry afternoon. Say hello to my newest pals - 

My artist pal asked me if I'd named them yet :) I don't usually but I might this time. Do you any of you? I've been meaning to bring home some succulents for a while now, cause they look pretty and need not be watered very frequently when you're away. These green babies haven't had the best times in our home over the past years, I clearly lack green fingers :( I've almost killed every plant I've owned in the past, without knowing why! The new house however seems to be a happy place for them to flourish, YAY!!  See my new Orla Kiely planter I picked up from a thrift market in Paris. The jar was missing a lid but hey who cares when it's an Orla eh :)) I'm in love with her signature leaf print. 
Oh! Hold on...I haven't told you about a surprise delivery the Mister got me sent the day before? I now have a new assistant that's crazy about sparkly, squeaky clean floors like me and is massively more equipped :)) We now have the Milagrow BlackCat2.0 aka Sebastian! He's quite something I tell you! You will never believe that this tiny fellow can scrub your floors and shine them with a touch of a button, till you actually see one in action. The coolest feature is that once it's timed, it automatically leaves it's charging station, goes about cleaning and comes back to the station on it's own. It's been two days now and I'll admit, I followed it all around the first day, couldn't quite get used to the boy moving around on its own, but yesterday Sebastian was totally on his own. He cleaned up the sewing room while I happily fixed lunch for meself. My Ma was quite amused with the idea - you now even have a robot to clean your floors!! HAHAHAHA I'm quite amazed myself actually. I'm a pain when it comes to cleaning the house and that is why I've always cleaned the house on my own, no maids for me. But, Sebastian won my heart instantly. We're lucky we don't have too much low furniture in the house, so this boy easily gets under most of the stuff and cleans up. If you have a sparsely decorated house with not much furniture, this boy is a blessing. It's on sale at Amazon if you'd like to get one. The Mister is such a darling! What a thoughtful present noh? He's been showered with alot of hugs and kisses in the past 24 hours ;-) 
Okaye back to sewing the next batch of wallets then..I'll see you guys soon. 



PS Incase you're curious where the name Sebastian popped out of well, it fell out of my childhood memories of a very handsome gorilla at the zoo in Nairobi we went to often. This guy made all the kids laugh and giggle with his antics. Sebastian died a couple of years ago, but he remains the sweetest memory of our trips to the zoo as kiddos :) 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Better Homes and Gardens Magazine write up - The complete transcript

Look at me back shamelessly to replug my interview with the Better Homes and Gardens September issue :)) I just laid my hands on the magazine a few days ago and it looks so much lovelier in print. Deepika Nandal, the sweet writer who compiled the article out of the long answers I sent to her via email, did such a fabulous job. The write up is so concise and crisp, don't you think so?
I really however wanted to share with you the entire transcript of what I sent to her. While on the trip it struck me that completed 2 years in August :) Thank you all for so much of love and good wishes that came across after the article was out and ofcourse to all those many many people who buy my creations and value them so much! 

Here goes-- 

1.Tell me your age, your city and your educational background:
I’m 37 years old, live in Mumbai with a BSc. in Home Science (LAD College, Nagpur) and a Diploma in Special Education for Mentally Retarded children (Mumbai University)

2. What were you doing before this? Where exactly did you work as a professional? Did you always wanted to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve been a teacher in a special school, to a project co-ordinator in a disability rights advocacy group, to a co-ordinator of special schools before I began Haathmade By Runa. I had no plans of turning into a full time crafter, it was a happy accident much after I quit my full time profession. My sister would carry to work stuff I’d made for her and her friends would notice and ask me to sew similar ones for them. That’s how a Facebook page happened initially and around 2 years ago, a website. 

 3. How did sewing/stitching catch your attention? Any particular person/incident that inspired you? What attracted you towards textile art?
Sewing sort of runs in my veins and came very naturally to me. My mum has been stitching our clothes ever since we were kids. I even learnt a few years ago that my Grandfather sewed his own napkins and table cloths for his cafe in the early 50s and 60s. Of course my mum is my go to person when I’m stuck somewhere. Needle work was a part of our curriculum since class 3 and we made tons of cross stitched table cloths and embroidered duchess sets in school. My background in Home Science gave me a lot of technical know how on fabrics, textures etc. Practical sewing was fairly limited to project work that we’d complete during our summer holidays. Bolts of textile have always been around the house. My mum stitched the curtains to sofa covers to our bath robes all at home, so yes she’s the one sole person I owe my skill too. 

4. Who taught you the art of stitching? When did you buy your first sewing machine? What was your first ever sewing project? Any you tube videos/books/tutorials you referred to?
I’ve learnt all my sewing through hours of practice, frustrations, experimentations and sewing blunders I’ve made over years. I’d always used my mum’s sewing machine and got to own my very first one as recently as 2009. When I began sewing in college, there were only a few internet cafes around, so that was never an option. I learnt a lot of techniques from my Mum, who would patiently explain them to me over long distance phone calls. Now of course I have many crafter friends in the sewing community across the world, who post wonderful tutorials on their blogs and even write detailed pattern books which I pick up from their websites. My first sewing project was way way ambitious for my age, but it was indeed a success :) I made a smocked summer dress for my younger sister in class 8 in boarding school with help from our school master ji :) 

5. Which are the fabrics/materials that you use for your projects?
I enjoy working a lot with pure fabrics. Cottons, linens, silks and denims are my favourite. They hold shape very well, are durable and very easy to manoeuvre on the sewing table. I love bright colours and prints and am always on the look out for such fabrics. 

6. Can you explain the stitching process—from illustrations to stitching to packaging? Who clicks the product shots? Can you describe your work and designs that you use? On which platforms are your products available at? Who is your target audience?
I visualise patterns in my head all the time. I get up at 5.30 am every morning so excited about patterns I just dreamt of. I carry a notebook around and make crazy sketches and diagrams. These then get transferred to drafts on newspaper, then cut out on scrap fabrics and sewn to see what they look like before I actually decide to make them for my web store. I do use readymade patterns available online and even from my patten book collection, but not without putting my personal stamp on it. 
I use a lot of the samples my self to test how practical they are and how well they hold up. My sister too uses a lot of my stuff and gives me very generous feedback. I run quite a one woman company from my sewing table in my guest bedroom. I spend the entire week sewing, end of the week I snap my own pictures, upload them on my website (which my engineer husband made from scratch), receive orders online, use recycled packaging materials and post them off to my customers with a handwritten note. For now my handmade products are only available on my own webstore and I intend to keep it that way. I am a stickler for neatness and finishing so mass production is practically impossible. Sewing each piece personally gives me immense pleasure and joy and leaves no room for shoddiness. 
My target audience is definitely anyone who understands the thoughtfulness and hard work that goes into making each unique handmade product. 

7. Why do people these days love all things hand-stitched? Do you also impart classes/workshops? Which are the products that you hand-stitch and sell?

When we were young, sweaters were knitted at home by gandmothers, clothes were sewn by aunts and mums, giving and receiving handmade was so special. The younger lot today have never seen a sewing machine ever and would rather pick up a ready made bag/ clothes from a retail store in a mall for half the price. There are a very limited bunch of people who really do understand the value of a hand crafted item and are ready to pay a price for it. I recently had a customer tell me that she’s so happy to carry my bag around knowing how it was made and who made it :) Hand made stuff is unique and unlike what everyone else is carrying or using, those who understand this are my happy customers. I seldom repeat fabrics and make no more than two items that look exactly the same. 
Since I run my small crafting business all by myself at home, it leaves me no time to think of imparting classes or workshops or even putting up stalls at exhibitions. I however would love to try my hand at online tutorials someday. Like they say, never say never :)
I make tote bags, lunch bags, purses, wallets, coasters, tea cosies, gadget cases, camera straps, passport pouches, key chains, make-up rolls and jewellery rolls to name  a few. These are available on my web store - I’ve done a host of custom makes like quilts, nappy bags, baby dresses, baby booties and waist bags too. 

8. Something you thought you learnt earlier on? What are the challenges you have to tackle, presently?
I learnt very early on that neat finishing and quality plays a big role in my crafting world. I can never mass produce, get tailors, run a workshop and create a large business. I thrive on the passion and joy of making each product myself and never go out of my way for any of my stuff to look like its not hand sewn at home. I even hand stamped my own labels till a few months ago. 
My biggest challenge is struggling with only 24 hours in a day which I now every artist does. I have so many ideas and projects in the pipeline that its difficult to decide what to make first. Finding good quality fabric and prints is another challenge. I spend hours pondering on pricing my products because, material costs are tangible, but putting a price to hours of sewing gets immensely tough. Sometimes people write in to me saying my stuff is a little expensive.  

9. Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who love to stitch things? Your future plans:
Anyone who loves to sew and wants to start selling should take that plunge for sure. No shortcuts work. You need to be adept at your skill, so take sewing, cutting classes. Spend hours practising and now the internet has a host of video tutorials to learn from. Never compromise on neatness or finish. Redo projects as long as they take. Keep at it never give up and surely honest feedback always helps.  

I take each day as it comes and long term planning doesn’t work for me. I’d love to start a nice design website that has sewing videos, tutorials and DIY projects on home decor. I love doing up spaces in the most un-conventional ways. Wish me luck people!