Published: 02nd November 2017
How Anusha Swamy went from choreography to promoting products made by kids with Down Syndrome on Instagram
A choreographer, a make-up artist and now an entrepreneur, this young lady talks about how the kids made her see life differently, leading to A+ Max being set up
If you've come across an Instagram account called @aplusmax, you've most likely seen a collection of cheerful looking tote bags, floor mats, decorative mats, multipurpose cloths and candles. What's so special about that? Well, for starters, they're entirely hand-crafted by children who have Down Syndrome. Launched at Humming Room in Chennai recently, this project was conceptualised and promoted by popular choreographer-to-the-stars Anusha Swamy.
"I've been spending time with the children at The Down Syndrome Federation of India for over five years now and I've learnt so much from them. This is just my way of giving back," says Swamy who is a fulltime choreographer, makeup artiste, a model and with A+ Max, an entrepreneur too!
Every day is memorable. I really can’t pin it down to just one. But one of the best things is when I sometimes have a downfall and cry to them, they always find a way to make me smile. Every Single Time
Anusha Swamy, Founder of A+Max
Surprisingly, A+ doesn't have a website for itself but relies entirely on its Instagram account, which has pretty pictures of the kids and their creations. It's been just 15 days since the launch and the kids already got more than 1300 followers. How about that!
Supported by Dr Surekha Ramachandran and her friends and family, Anusha is looking at retailing these products at bazaars and pop-up shops around Chennai - to raise funds for people with Down Syndrome. From facilitating the manufacturing of the products to making them saleable to actually taking them to the buyers, A+ is doing a great job promoting the brand on Instagram.
Helping hands: A+ Max is supported by Dr Surekha Ramachandran and her friends and family | Pictures: Muna Ashraf
Like any other business venture, even A+ had its share of ups and downs and was no piece of cake — Talking about the day of the launch exhibition, she recalls, "We had no power as we entered and I was kind of lost. All of a sudden the kids started singing Kadhal Rojavae (from Roja) as a cue to start playing Anthakshari and that’s when I realised how positive they were and that there was no reason for me to stress.
Once we set up the stall our pieces sold like hot cakes. The stall was open from 10 am to 8 pm but we were sold out by 4 pm and were just sitting to say 'Hi' to the people who walked in after that," said Anusha. also adding "We felt bad because we broke quite a few people's hearts as we didn't have any more goods to sell them."
We have a lot coming up, new products, I’m getting my friend’s help in creating a structure and a routine and appoint interns who want to work with us
Anusha Swamy, Founder of A+Max
When we asked her about what the kids feel about A+, she lights up with a smile and says, " They love the attention, they love meeting people and they long for the companionship of people their age and this was a great way for them to meet new people, experience new emotions and know the value of money (which they don’t really know at all, because when asked what price to sell the mat they spent 3 months to make, they said Rs 5, Now that’s cute isn’t it?) It was altogether a new and joyous experience for them because I do believe they felt included and welcomed by our society."
Considering everything else she does, you have to wonder 'How could someone do so many different things?' When we asked her this out of curiosity, the answer from this multi-faceted young lady was, "Now the pressure that I have is nothing compared to what these kids have. If they can keep their heads high and a smile on their face and live life happily and gracefully, my not doing it would be a shame," she concludes.