Gurleen Gala, a senior designer in one of the leading Decor Company of India has been serving the platter of hampers for a year now. Teal Lush celebrates its first year anniversary today and we at Caleidoscope couldn’t have been happier to cover her story. We reversed the roles: she gets served an article that speaks for her.
Born and brought up in Patna, Gurleen moved to Bombay some 14 years ago to pursue her higher education. Despite her well paying job, she wanted to renew the childlike, innocent happiness of gifting. She curated her dream in an Everything Beautiful sort of a way. Here are the excerpts from my conversation with her.
How did you come up with the name ‘Teal Lush’?
Both these words ‘Teal’ and ‘Lush’ have individual connotations as well as make sense when put together. Teal is a shade that is a mixture of the colours blue and green. These days, the shade is trendy in the fashion industry. The colour breathes homeliness. Similarly, lush is synonymous to luxury but it also holds the meaning of a thick green garden. I wanted to name my brand with the products that it will pass on. I wanted it to have my favourite colour in it with the luxury it would possess. It would not be scarce but abundant with hues and richness as the name clearly justifies.
Also, I’d like to clarify that Teal Lush isn’t just a pastime for me. I am dedicatedly and compassionately involved. I have studied and done quality research before getting into the lifestyle of hampers. The hampers that I send out take care of three things: the presentation, the quality and the quantity. I consider the fact that if I am charging a specific amount for these hampers, I would want that my customer derives the pleasure in receiving it by covering his/her ROI. So there is always room for more! That is why I believe that my customers deserve the ‘lush’ in my products. This justifies the presence of lush.
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Now, talking about my choice behind the word Teal, my ‘Planters’ are all hand painted. I am a person who sees colours everywhere and that is why there is no monotony in my planters. I like colours, brightness, vibrancy, tints. I really love the concept of my planters. My signature planter is called the ‘Good Vibes Planter’ which people love, immensely adore and buy predominantly. And this gives me good vibes too. 🙂
Super! Do you have a partner or are you the sole entrepreneur?
I am the sole director, founder, proprietor- all of the these!
However, I often credit my family for their undying moral support. TBRH: this isn’t out of a sheer crediting process, I would like to thank them for their constant backing and validation.
My husband has been the packing force along with my family who supported my stubbornness of refinding hampers in a luxurious way. I really wouldn’t have done this without them.
What is the story behind the coming up of Teal Lush?
Terracotta and hampers went hand in hand for me. I will explain thoroughly why I liked the idea of curating hampers in two different stories:
Firstly, the origin of gifts plays an important role. When I was young, the happiness I felt when I gave gifts to my friends was two-way. The entire process from buying a gift, wrapping it up and then presenting it to them was very innocent and special. I felt the sweetness and the selflessness soaring high. Apart from that, not just the act of gifting, but the fact that my friends received it with such gratitude made me feel alive. The smile that formed on their face was not because of what was inside, which obviously they wouldn’t have known as it was wrapped but the mere feeling of receiving something made them happy. Different kinds of connections took place at that very moment.
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The premier act of me decorating it till the final act of receipt by person has been very important to me. I got into hampers because I wanted to keep it personalised: to be able to narrate emotions. My hampers are full of gratification that one does not need an exchange of words while sharing the gift. Also, when a person decides to customise the hamper, they get to choose every product according to the likings of the person they are gifting it to. Even though I am not there to witness the exchange, I secure second hand indulgence when people share the images of their loved ones. This is how the gifting purpose got its life.
Secondly, the reason behind the choice of terracotta is that it has always been close to my heart. Nowadays, Diwali has come under the scandal format of dos and do-nots. However, when I was young and stayed in Patna, in the land of sacrosanct Ganga, diyas were handmade using the alluvial soil of Ganga. The diyas are disfigured but that never stopped the celebration. Despite that, you pour oil and make the wick stand in the diya and the process is a sacred act in itself. Back then, it was always my responsibility to light up diyas during Diwali. That nostalgia of living close to Ganga’s soil always brings back all the propitious memories.
Now that I am based in Bombay, I thought of refinding the terracotta days. Time and again, I spotted miniature pots with Warli painting in malls and fests. Moreover, it was something that I found cute. Here’s a secret: I was a collector of these miniature pots (giggles)! No doubt they looked immensely beautiful, but when I reflected on their use besides their showpiece quality, I did not find any. As the miniature artform was only for decoration, I contemplated on how I could increase its usefulness. Then bloomed the idea of Planters. We all have plants at our home, even for adding to the mere decorations of the interiors. So why not add something that would add beauty as well as appear useful? My planters also sow the idea of greenery and lush.
“Let’s make the world a very beautiful, colourful and a green place.”
Even the hashtag that I use for my brand is #EverythingBeautiful which defines the purpose of these planters. It took me a lot of thought to come up with the hashtag as it would not need me promoting it. Rather, the hashtag works for me now. No one was really dedicatedly pursuing the idea of colourful planters in India. I wanted to do this not just for namesake but for the satisfaction that it generated for me. I saw a budding business opportunity in this prospect and asked myself: why not? I was quite skeptical of what it would become as I did not have much confidence in it initially. But with the birth of planters, the sales soured high and I was overwhelmed with all the enthusiastic support.
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I would like to narrate a story of one of the exhibitions I was selected for. In March 2020, Artistree approached me during the National Women’s Day week. They promote small women entrepreneurs by giving them a platform to exhibit their work. Now this was purely selection based. And I didnt want to look like a fool with my non-artsy hampers. Planters were my strength and they distinguished me from others. Where hampers were curated, planters were created.They auditioned nearly 70-80 women, selected merely 20 and guess what? I made it! Each of them were dedicatedly talented in what they did and I somewhat did not feel very capable standing there. I remember their exact words: “We may not be sure about others, but you are definitely coming on the exhibitional board with us.” I was moved! My husband supported me throughout. He kept on reasserting that I must not fret. So I set up my table with the bare minimum planters that I had brought and next thing I knew was that I was coming over! Those 3 days were better than the whole of 2020! I went with a lot of stock only to return empty handed. I felt self-sufficient then not just in selling my planters but also spreading a social message of greenery. Now, that is an achievement. Then came in enquiries and queries and my business bloomed.
Corporate life is indeed stressful. But among the papers, when you see a colourful planter on your desk, it soothes you. The importance of the colour green is universal: you see green in hospitals all the time which has healing and therapeutic properties. And hence plants are a good source of intaking greens through visuals. So I kept a plant on my desk too, only to hear people say that they wanted one for their workstation! Therefore installing a succulent or a cactus on your desk is a good source of stressbuster. This is how my business got their greens from.
Would you like to mention the challenges that came in your way?
There were certain sets of challenges. When I started my business, I had delivered my baby some 5 months ago. During my maternity leave, I had ample time to reflect on my business prospects. This just pushed me to do what I wanted to do. But the impediment of how I would manage with my little baby was something I didn’t let take over me. I studied about how this could be done, and undertook trips to Delhi and Kolkata. That time my mother and my brother accompanied me through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazaar. Not to miss the constant support from my father and my sister who never missed their chance to mention that they were proud of me even on my little successes. I didn’t want to miss any day of my maternity holiday so i sneaked out time from these trips only so i could feed my child. I’d call every challenge a lesson learnt.
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Do you deliver pan India?
Yes, also internationally.
What are the dimensions of these planters? Also, what does a regular hamper include?
The following are the sizes of the planters:
- 2 inches (the size of your little finger)
- 3 inches (the size of your ring finger)
- 4.5 inches, and
- 6 inches
A regular hamper incorporates grooming products, food items, stationery, a planter, teas/coffee, etc and this purely depends on the interests of the buyer.
Most of the hampers go out of the city, so I try to keep the decoration minimal with less pop-ups but I do not sacrifice on the overall look of the hamper.
How much does a regular hamper cost?
A regular hamper starts from Rupees 2000. A planter starts from Rupees 350 and goes up to Rupees 1000.
What is in store for us as customers in the future?
As Diwali season is knocking on the door, I am planning to do some ready to go Diwali hampers. One can just come and pick them up. And of course, cute, little planters with new paintings are on their way too.
A piece of advice you would like to give someone who is still unsure whether their business prospect will be successful or not?
Don’t think, just do it. You have the power. You will face challenges, but once you get into this, these will be lessons you’d cherish. Be stubborn, everyone will flow in the flow you are in.
Gurleen Gala can be reached on her Instagram page as well as on her number. Surprise your loved ones with her loving hampers. We wish her all the best!