13 Artistic Women Entrepreneurs You Need to Know

Creators And Collectors

March 8th is International Women’s Day – a day to appreciate, honour, and celebrate the achievements of women in different walks of life. Here at Artisera, we’ve chosen to recognize 13 incredible women entrepreneurs from the world of art, home décor and lifestyle. We asked each of them about their journey, inspirations and dreams. And of course, about the favourite piece of artistic luxury they own! Here’s what they had to say (listed in alphabetical order)…

1. AMBICA BERI, Gallery Sanskriti and Art Ichol

You started an art gallery in Kolkata back in 1990, and an art residency in Maihar more recently. What has inspired you all these years?

My inspiration comes from all the great artists I’ve worked with. Besides holding exhibitions in my gallery, I had been inviting painters, ceramicists, sculptors, writers and photographers to Maihar for years, making it a melting pot of creative exploration. That’s when I realized the place could be the source of something much greater, and the idea of Art Ichol was born. The dream of making a world class, multi-skill centre has driven me these last couple of years. I want our visiting artists to be remembered for the creative work they do at Art Ichol, and that’s my motivation.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

A 1974 tempera by Ganesh Pyne, titled ‘The Cat’, which was the first serious purchase I made after the inaugural show at Sanskriti in 1990.

(Ganesh Pyne's artwork titled 'The Cat' is Ambica Beri's favourite artistic possession)



 How have you managed to create a niche for your business in the overcrowded home décor and interior design market in such a short time?

The idea of Andy Home was conceived by my brother Umesh Anand and myself out of our love for art, creative design and fine living. Recognizing that the market is already crowded, we decided to create a style of our own. Combining classically styled furniture with contemporary flair, and selectively sourcing the finest accessories from leading European brands has led to our accelerated growth. We understand the importance of individuality, and what’s made us successful is the brand’s association with grandeur, luxury, exquisite designs and high quality craftsmanship.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

Several, actually, and most are family heirlooms. There are two artworks that I hold dear, inscribed in pure silver thread, both given to my grandfather in recognition of his work in restoring historical monuments. My favourite, though, is a sterling silver snifter with semi-precious stones, which came into my grandfather’s possession from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s private collection.



What has inspired you to work towards reviving dying arts and supporting artisan communities?

The artisan communities spread across India are living legacies, with inherent wisdom refined from generation to generation. To recognize the best, and translate it for a future ready context is a win-win for all. If Ayush (my husband) and I can do this eloquently, then there’s nothing like it.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

Shiva Jug from AnanTaya, and a reversible kantha cape from ‘Jiyo’ by Rajeev Sethi.


4. ISHA MODY PATODIA, Genesis Art Gallery

How big an inspiration and driving force has your mother been, in you joining the art business?

Back in the 80’s, when Marwari families weren’t very progressive, my mother opened Genesis Art Gallery. The promotion of Indian contemporary art was very new then. From a very young age, I found myself in the company of artists and curators, listening to their intellectual conversations. Even though I studied Business in college, I quickly realized that art was more than just a hobby for me. So I started learning the ropes from my mother to understand the business of art. She has been, and continues to be a source of inspiration for me as I take our gallery to new heights.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is… 

My husband and I were recently blessed with a baby girl, Aashvi. To celebrate her arrival, we requested renowned artist, Maya Burman, daughter of eminent artist Sakti Burman, to create an artwork for our daughter. The artwork she created takes you into a world of fantasy, magic and wonder, and will always be one of my most prized possessions.

(Renowned Artist Maya Burman's creation for the birth of Isha's daughter)


5. MYNA KAKAR, Verandah Art

You have a talent for discovering promising artists. Are your decisions based on instinct or do you adopt specific measures to curate your artists?

Besides instinct and a general awareness about the current art trends, I try to select young talent based on a combination of factors, such as a refreshingly individualistic and original style, an attitude of dedicated sincerity and passion towards one’s work, regardless of commercial gains which may tempt some youngsters to copy established artists’ styles as a shortcut to success. Although sometimes it takes time to develop, a conviction in one’s style, even if it’s whacky, always helps.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

‘The Angel and the Mortal’, by Sanatan Dinda, an incredibly talented sculptor and painter from Bengal. He used railways sleeper wood and fiberglass to create the masterpiece in 2001. The human figure in the background has been made by using stencils and burning certain portions of the wood panels, which have been held together with metal clips. It conveys the transience of beauty and the fragility of life, and I don’t think I’ll ever part with this piece.

(This stunning creation by Sanatan Dinda, 'The Angel and The Mortal' is Myna Kakar's favourite possession)


6. NAMU KINI, Kynkyny Art

Kynkyny has made art more accessible to a wider audience. Was this your vision when you started Kynkyny? What were things you had to do to make it happen?

When my husband, Vivek, and I set up Kynkyny Art in 2004, the idea was to create a friendly and unpretentious space for art lovers. The art buying process can be intimidating, especially for first-time buyers. We make it a point to provide them with all of the information and the guidance that they needed to make a decision.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

A beautiful antique rug, more than a hundred years old, that I got at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.


7. NISHITA THAKURDAS, Nishita Fine Dinnerware

You recently turned entrepreneur after a long stint in the corporate sector. What has been the most exciting part of this new entrepreneurial journey?

The most exciting part of this journey is that I get to travel and meet so many new people. Being an entrepreneur has made me more confident, otherwise I’m usually an extremely shy person! Because I’m doing what I love, I can push myself hard to always give my best. For example, every time I start working on a new dinnerware collection, the research itself can take several months. But I love investing that time into creating my designs. The creative freedom that comes with running my own business has allowed me to blend contemporary design with a stunning and vibrant colour palette. And I’m happy that I’m doing what I set out to do, which is to pay respectful homage to India’s exceptional heritage through my work.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

Back in 2001, I chanced upon a beautiful piece at Paresh Hazra’s studio on my visit to him in his signature medium of egg tempera. Aptly titled ‘Lamp’, the rich piece brings warmth and light to my living room where it now hangs. It almost looks like a magical tapestry that transcends genres.



What is it about the Italian style of furniture making that drew you to bring Italian brands to India?

Italy is a world trendsetter and has produced some of the greatest furniture designs in the world. Italian style furniture is made of class, elegance & sophistication and that is what created the product line at Studio Creo for me – Italian for create. The ‘Made in Italy’ stamp symbolizes superb craftsmanship, and the style conscious Indians are aware of that today. Another reason why Italian brands seem to connect with Indian tastes is because of the variety they offer – from classic, old world styles to casual, earthy, Tuscan inspired home furnishings, to the minimalist modern takes – there’s something for everyone.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

The CT Line Book Shelves by Boffi, which can be personalized using different clusters combinations. The cabinets are white, and are made of velvet-like-effect material. The units are reversible, and can be installed with open-faced compartment on the left or right side.

(Bookshelf by Italian Brand 'Boffi' which is Parushni's favourite possession)



How big an influence has travel been in your decision to start a design and art focused business?

My inclination towards the artistic world has been there since a young age because of my mother Neeru Poddar, who is an art collector and social worker. Travelling the world while growing up, and seeing different forms of artistic creativity, gave me the idea of promoting such talents. For me, arts weren’t merely limited to paintings and sculptures, but any product which represents a form of creativity and beauty. Today, I travel to curate pieces which evoke the senses and capture the hearts of their buyers, not just as simple home décor objects, but as signature art pieces.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

An antique Waterford bowl, received as a gift. I love using it to serve mulled wine while entertaining my friends.


10. POOJA SINGHAL, Pichvai Tradition & Beyond

What inspired you to work towards reviving a traditional art form like Pichwai, and how have you approached it?

My family lived in Udaipur for three generations. I grew up surrounded by art, largely because of my mother, who is a passionate art collector. Pichwai paintings, which depict stories from the life of Lord Krishna, originated in Nathadwara, close to Udaipur. Over the years, the pichwai has been distorted and produced by artists who don’t follow the original techniques of the painting. I have a deep attachment to the art form, and so I started a revival project to make Pichwais more accessible to a larger audience, while ensuring that the traditional techniques and styles remain alive. My artisans execute the works while staying true to the original styles and techniques. We’ve done extensive research, and managed to reproduce compositions that have been forgotten today, because commercial artists have only depicted one or two of the more popular scenes over the years.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

A beautiful Srinathji pendant strung in fine pearls, that I love wearing once in a while.

(Beautiful 'Srinathji' neckpiece that is Pooja Singhal's favourite possession)


11. SARAH SHAM, Essajees


You are the fourth generation from your family at the helm of Essajees. What is it like to take on the reins of this legacy, and be the first woman in your family to do so?

There are so many perks of working in a business that’s been around for a hundred years! My favourite part has to be when old clients from around the world come in and tell me stories about my great grand-dad or grandfather that I had no idea about, and the fact that that they still have pieces they bought from us decades ago, is so special. Being a woman is challenging when it comes to dealing with the workshops which are completely male-dominated, but on the client side, it’s a big advantage, and I think I get away with more than my male counterparts do.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

A Shamendu Sonawane painting that depicts the 3D effect of colourful pebbles left on the shore of a beach. My father gifted it to me on my 21st birthday since I love Indian contemporary art. Many items that belong to my father are also favourites of mine, like a silver crest of the Nizam of Hyderabad and black stone elephant statues that sit at our store entrance.

(Silver Crest of the Nizam of Hyderabad belonging to Sarah's father, Mr. Mohamedi Sham)


12. SHIKHA BARASIA, Square Barrel

Growing up in a family that specializes in antique and period furniture, why did you decide on making funky furniture?

I’ve always appreciated antiques and period style furniture, but designing modern furniture comes more naturally to me. The current market in India for funky furniture is extremely small and has a lot of potential to grow. Lots of young couples are building their own homes and people want to experiment today. They are ready to have that one statement piece in their homes which brings the space alive, and that’s what we create at Square Barrel.

Your Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ is…

A beautifully sculpted brass ‘mangal kalash’, gifted to me by a very close family member. It is a symbol of happiness and wealth.

(Stunning Mangal Kalash that is Shikha's favourite possession)


13. SUPARNA HANDA, Sarita Handa

Your mother and you have made Sarita Handa such a strong brand name both in India and abroad. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve overcome to reach where you are?

Since the profile of customers in both India and abroad is similar, we haven’t seen much difference in demand. But Indian clients tends to be more price-conscious and sceptical about services and quality. With limited choice and accessibility, steep prices did not assure great quality a few years back here in India. We’ve had to work hard to bring awareness to our consumer that our brand is about quality. The art of the hand is still very much alive at Sarita Handa, whether in the embroidery work on decorative pillow covers or in the inlay work of a semi-precious stone table. And over the years, our customers have grown to trust our quality of everything we create at Sarita Handa.

The Favourite Piece of ‘Artistic Luxury’ you own is…

I’m going to cheat here, because it’s a compilation of charcoal drawings by a group of artists – Suhas Roy, Sunil Das, Paritosh Sen and Vaikuntam,  that I have curated together. Collectively, they make up one beautiful wall in my living room.

At Artisera, we are proud to house a selection of pieces from the companies founded by these incredible women. Please browse their collections at www.artisera.comHere’s wishing a Happy Women’s Day to all the amazing women out there!

Share Post: