Blue Iris and the Step Back in Time that Started it all

An interview with the founder of Blue Iris who is helping to preserve artisan craftsmanship in India.
Blue Iris Prachi Maholtra

As you all know, I love a good story so when I met Prachi Malhotra over lunch earlier this year, I wanted to find out more about her business Blue Iris and how it all began. We decided we would meet to discuss this over lunch but it was quite a few months before we actually had that catch-up. When we did meet, we got to talking about life, family and so many other things (this seems to be a common occurrence for me). Still, I am very grateful to have been able to spend that afternoon with Prachi and I am pleased to bring you the story about Blue Iris and how Prachi’s jewellery business got started.

For some stunning pieces to gift a friend or buy for yourself, visit her Etsy store: BlueIrisHandicrafts

Blue Iris

Brass and red Buddha ($400)

Thanks so much, Prachi! Preserving artisan work is such a passion project in this day and age. It was wonderful to hear about how you are helping to do that with Blue Iris.

Tell us about yourself

I am like an open book, super chatty (you can attest to that!), full on life, happy to help, always up for socializing kind of person. 

How did this all begin? What inspired you to start Blue Iris?

Blue Iris started when I visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Agra is a beautiful city, full of colours and everywhere you look it seems as if they are celebrating. I found a lady just outside the Taj Mahal selling these really gorgeous handmade earrings. They were well made with an excellent finish. Their colours were attractive and they were made of brass – a non-allergenic metal.

Blue Iris

Round earrings ($25)

My first thought was “Oh my all my friends are going to love this, I should get one for all of them! “

I told her I would like to have about 12 pieces and she asked me to follow her to her workshop to get more since she only had 10 with her. A bit reluctant at first, I followed her. The workshop was a tiny house where kids were running around, men were sitting on the floor barefoot and taking out hot melted brass from earth ovens to pour into iron moulds. This was like stepping back in time. There were no machines and everything was done by hand! 

This one and a half minute video shows the artisan process

It was then that I realized how much these people worked to make one small piece of artwork and jewellery. Geeta, the lady selling the earrings then told me her story of how difficult it was to sell and how everyone struggled to make a living out of this art form. Geeta was unsure how long they would continue as her kids were turning five and seven. She needed to start sending them to school but with the income that she was making, it would not be enough.

All this time my mind was saying “NO NO NO… she can’t stop making these.” So right then and there I clicked a few pictures and posted on an expat group. I asked if anyone would like a piece and I was willing to carry it for them. To my surprise, in under thirty minutes, I had a request for almost 200 pieces. 

This was the start of a new venture… But I didn’t know it then! 🙂 

Blue Iris

Peacock lamps ($48 each)

Why did you name it Blue Iris?

Blue is the colour of joy and personally, I just love that flower.

How do you source your collection?

I ship or courier to Singapore directly from India. 

Who do you think would most appreciate your collection?

People who have an appreciation for handcrafted work and the hard labour that goes into making each piece. Someone who wants to shop for a cause and is not looking for big, designer brands but would rather wear or gift something with much more meaning.

At front, pipers ($50 each); back, horse ($150)

Do you have a favourite item in your range?

I have a few favourites! 🙂 I love the sea green round danglers with gold polish. They bring just the right kind of bling for an evening. I also love some of the pendants. They are casual wear with long chains or statement pieces with a small chain. My fave piece is a necklace with gold rings and sea green stones. It costs $120 and is the most expensive piece in the entire jewellery collection. It looks absolutely fabulous. Every time I wear it I get lots of compliments.

What inspires you today?

I am inspired by the skill and craftsmanship that is found in these pieces. It’s a dying art because most of the people skilled enough to do it have already moved on to other jobs in big cities. I want to preserve this art. But my true inspiration comes from the smiles on the faces of these people. The genuine heartfelt thanks, knowing that their kids can now go to school while they continue doing what they do best. 

What’s next for Blue Iris?

Blue Iris has just launched it’s ETSY shop BlueIrisHandicrafts and is working on building a website. 

Blue Iris

Pendants, left ($38), right ($25)

What would you say to anyone wanting to start a business:

I started with a feeling. A feeling of wanting to do something for those people in India. It took almost 4 years to get here but if I had ignored those feeling or not acted on them Blue Iris would not have taken shape. If you are looking to start any business, know your motivation. Keep getting inspired and when you feel strongly about something don’t hesitate to act on it.

For more information, visit Blue Iris on Facebook and the Etsy page, BlueIrisHandicrafts

Top image: small, silver Buddha ($130)

Angela Manners loves finding an interesting story and talking to people about what they are passionate about. She is Australian but was born in Bangkok, grew up in Southeast Asia and then studied in America. Angela is passionate about coffee, food and everything that surrounds them.
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