Anyana Arjun became a fashion designer by accident. She always wanted to be a photographer and with this interest she applied to LaSalle College of Arts in Singapore. But the only major available was Fashion Media and Industries, and since it was art related, she figured she would find her niche.
“The course broadened my view of the industrial and business aspect of fashion. My thesis was on fashion as a company where I had to do a business pitch with marketing, financial strategies, focus on the product and packaging and that was what made the difference for me. I wanted to expand my knowledge in this area,” she says Your history.
She applied to Parsons Institute of New York and graduated in 2015 with a degree in fashion marketing and did an internship at Porenza Schouler. She worked with Tahari before deciding to return to India in 2019.
Create awareness for sustainable fashion
Chennai, her hometown, didn’t offer her many opportunities and this caused her to consider starting her own business with her family.
“I have always been interested in sustainability and sustainable materials in fashion. As someone who is very close to animals and nature, it is very close to my heart. Since fashion is the third largest polluting industry in the world, I wanted to raise awareness of sustainable fashion in India,” says Anjana.
Instead of jute and linen, Anjana chose to focus on sustainable materials that are associated with style and chic. Initially she thought about designing clothes, but after dabbling in plant skins and fruit leathers, she decided to start small and says handbags make the most sense.
“I have chosen my family name, Sarjaa, but with a double A to reflect my name. Also, it’s my grandfather’s name and my father’s last name. Also, Zarya is the name of the tree associated with my heavenly start, the moola nakshatra. The tree should give the grower a long and happy life, and that to me is sustainability,” she explains.
Manufactured at its Karnataka facility, Sarjaa was launched last month with six designs in its first collection. They include:
pracheen – A classic handbag crafted from apple skin leather, the inner lining is ethically sourced Eri Silk, while the printed lining is the designs of a renowned henna artist in southern India.
Sebu – Sebu, meaning apple in Kannada, is made from apple skin leather. The lining is made from organic cotton and the zippers are made from 70% recycled metal.
dua – This spacious tote is an ideal work bag with roomy zipped compartments and pockets.
Punya – This can be used as a clutch or shoulder bag and can be paired with both western and Indian attire. Its magnetic closure button is made of recyclable aluminum and the inner lining of the bag is made of organic cotton.
Kala – The bag contains elements made of leather obtained from fruit waste and other organic materials.
kenti – This mini bag is inspired by the kettlebell in shape (ergonomic handle) and design.
She admits that apple leather was difficult to source, but cactus and pineapple leather are easy to source but very difficult to work with.
She points out that every leather is different and matching it to a specific design is a challenge.
“My team and I gave everything to make it work. This process uses no PVC or toxic chemicals and I am proud to say that we are 80% sustainable and strive to make the process 95% sustainable,” she adds.
Sarjaa uses plantable seed paper in its packaging that can be used to grow plants.
“We have tried to be as transparent as possible about our sustainability efforts and Sarjaa is for people who care about the planet and a green way of life. We also want to create awareness in this direction,” says Anjana.
The bags are priced at between Rs 24,999 and Rs 44,999 and are available on the sarjaa.in website.
“I think I can also call Sarjaa my father’s business and it’s just my mind working for him. I couldn’t be more grateful to my family for supporting me in taking this concept forward,” she concludes.