Published: 06th June 2018
Go cruelty-free and eco-friendly with your apparel at The Phoenix Company
Aditi Maithreya's The Phoenix Company, based out of Chennai, believes in offering cruelty-free and handloom products at reasonable prices
When asked what The Phoenix Company is all about, Aditi Maithreya's answer is simple - "to combine creativity with compassion." Maybe this very core is what drives her, and her family - the energetic team behind The Phoenix Company - to create affordably aesthetic, undeniably quirky and eco-friendly products.
What makes Aditi Maithreya? “A person with an inherent interest in art and design, whose talents have matured to well-defined self expression, thanks to her family, who constantly encourage and indulge in multiple creative endeavours,” she says. Aditi is even a visiting faculty at her alma mater, Asian College of Journalism. “I guess that’s who I am – a person doing multiple things and happy doing them,” she admits.
The organisation, primarily meant to deal with advertising, was revived by Aditi soon after her undergrad, and since has dappled in arts to apparel to advertising. What has stood out the most among the youth though is the apparel and accessories wing of The Phoenix Company. “It started off with me designing and doodling for t-shirts. Today the company has grown to have palazzos, sarees, culottes, jewellery, mugs and even a dedicated clothing line for men,” Aditi explains. Together with her family, who make a dedicated team of four, The Phoenix Company and its success is a result of collective effort, she insists. “Dad, Chaganti VK Maithreya, was the founder and continues to be the proprietor of the company, my sister Upasika handmakes and handles the entire accessories section, and my mum Dr Sunita helps us do all of the material and design selections of our products,” she adds.
But what’s the quirk that helps The Phoenix Company standout and youngsters go for their products? “Definitely the fun doodles and affordable prices made a big difference when we started off,” says Aditi. But there is more that sets them apart in a generation that is constantly trying to do its bit – Aditi and her family, strongly believe in promoting cruelty-free and handmade products made by local artisans from across the world. “Over the years the company has grown to make conscious choices and seeks to support and create awareness around social causes,” Aditi says. “This made us start the ‘Arts of the World initiative’ which supports artists and artisans from different parts of the world, and ‘Conserve-Aid’ a line of economical and upcycled attire and accessories for all.” What’s better is that a large amount of the profit margin goes to the artisans. She says, “When we source certain artist-made products, we put a minimum profit margin on it. The design of these products isn’t always ours, and we are simply doing our part in promoting art and artists who are incredible at what they do!”
Here is how it works: Artists rate their products at a certain amount and ask for the same from the company before shipping it to them. The Phoenix Company adds a very small margin to it and “a significant amount of what is made from the product sales goes back to these local weavers and artisans,” I am told. So, what about the eco-friendliness of it all? “We are against animal cruelty in here, so we sell a range of products which are handwoven and made from natural fibres.” From Sarees to Men’s Kurta’s, they have enough and more eco-friendly options to offer. “For summer, the Banana and Pineapple fibre sarees and dupattas are ‘hot’ right now,” she quips. And I admit, the light fabric definitely works in the Chennai heat.
But, it’s a general perception that anything hand-made or eco-friendly is bound to burn a hole in your pocket. “This holds true when local artists are generally underpaid and retailers increase their margins. However, we ensure that our products are reasonably priced and the range of different products offer a tremendous reach across students, young professionals and homemakers,” Aditi assures. From Ajrakh stoles at just Rs 650 and ikat jackets at Rs 1,200, to handloom and fruit fibre based sarees ranging from Rs 3,500 to Rs 5,600, the company's products are truly competitive and cater to different audiences.
The Phoenix Company, apart from its popular attire and accessories line, also does multiple other things - it conducts workshops, does advertising and takes up designing services. And I suppose it's the myriad interests that keep Aditi and The Phoenix Company busy, that help them create and support all the wonderful things that it does.