Published: 14th August 2020
The covers are off: How this memory quilt-making label appreciated by Priyanka Chopra is getting back after COVID
Don't want to throw away your old clothes? Just give them to Cornucopia Concepts and they will work their magic to make you the most beautiful memory quilt. This is how they are starting again
xWhen the pile of clothes that sisters Ayesha and Manisha Desai weren't wearing since class X kept growing and growing, their mother pulled out the big guns. "You either do something about it or I am just going to throw it out," she told them. So the duo had to do 'something'. Manisha, who has worked with rag pickers in the field of waste management and sustainable livelihood, fashioned a memory quilt out of it on a whim. "We couldn't just throw it out! There were even our ex-boyfriends' t-shirts in there, so she made a quilt out of it all," laughs as Ayesha shares.
Today, they do the same for many others under their brand name Cornucopia Concepts. Need an estimate of how many quilts they make? About 20 to 25 per month! COVID had hit them hard too and they had shut operations for over a month and a half but you'll be happy to note that they will be opening for business in a week. After all, receiving a mention on Priyanka Chopra's Insta Story, certainly, has boosted the inquirers.
Pretty quilt | (Pic: Cornucopia Concepts)
Start quilting anew
First and foremost, because Maharashtra is a mess when it comes to the Coronavirus scare, the first thing they did was shift their base from Pune to Gurugram. "Our five tailors shifted with us, which is a miracle," informs Ayesha, who was a medical worker who has served in the US and India too. The basement they will be operating out of has a huge exhaust fan to keep the air circulating. They usually take a month to make one quilt, but now, Ayesha says that the process will be longer. "We are going to ask people to send their old clothes via India Post, no more pickups. Once we receive them, we are going to let them stay in the box for five days before opening it. Then, they will go straight into a UV box for 90 seconds. Also, all quilts will just have two points of contacts, one tailor and myself," says the 42-year-old The last point is time-consuming because usually, multiple tailors work on quilts because there are many aspects to take care of like cutting, stitching and so on.
The sisters had started out in 2017 with this venture and saw instant success, thanks to social media. They have even managed to sustain the success till date. But it is not as easy as it sounds. "We have no manufacturing unit. We work with tailors who are specialised in what we do. We sisters handle the front end ourselves, interact with every client to understand what they want and how we can deliver it," shares Ayesha. She also tells us about an instance when a client was so upset over how a part of a crown motif from her baby's clothes was being patched over, she brought Ayesha to tears too. "These clothes are precious to the owners, which is why what we do is highly specialised and we work on one quilt at a time," she shares. And they want to stay that way, they don't want to manufacture 100 quilts, they want to do 25 per month with all the love in their hearts.
Sisters | (Pic: Cornucopia Concepts)
Where Cornucopia Concepts have scaled is corporate gifting which the started in 2018, wherein, from the packaging to the products inside the hamper, everything is 95 per cent to 98 per cent reusable or biodegradable. "The products in the hamper are sourced from home-based workers, small manufacturers or cottage industries run by women. In fact, this has been a constant focus of the sisters — to help people who really need it. They even have a tailor with special needs on their team who works on a flexible-hours basis.
The Devil's in the details
So, if you want a 4x6 inches quilt, you would be required to send 30 clothes, if your requirement is a quilt of 5x7 inches, you'll be required to send 40 and so on and so forth. This also depends on if you'll send baby or adult clothes. Phew, lots to factor in, right? They make a three-layer quit, while the first layer is the patchwork of clothes and the second is cotton flannel or another foam. "We use bottom sheeting as the third layer and usually advise against a reversible quilt, unless it's for keepsake alone. Because all said and done, one layer of the quilt is always going to be in contact with your skin," Ayesha explains.
A quilt | (Pic: Cornucopia Concepts)
Cornucopia Concepts does offer pouches, cushion covers, buntings, bags and more, but their memory quilts are the bestsellers. "We want to get into making curtains as well, though it's an acquired taste. Right now, the plan is to continue operating in our new space for the next six months. After that, maybe get into new products, she shares and signs off.
For more on them, check out cornucopiaconcepts.com