What is the name of your company? 


When was the company founded? 

I started it as a passion project in 2018 and went full-time in 2020.

Tell us the story of how you brought your company to life.

I launched Mellowworks in 2018 to counterbalance my job in the New York fashion industry. I always wanted to launch my own brand of products in bold colors and simple clean designs, and with my job in fashion, that was almost always restricted. After years of contemplating, I finally opened my Etsy shop while still working my job as a menswear designer. I was making and selling embroidered paper art and some stationery. Slowly my explorations in paper embroidery evolved into the stationery line that is Mellowworks now. 

Now out on my own, I design in bold shades of coral and yellow, bright patterns like checkerboards and terrazzo and sweet designs that aren't, you know, *too* sweet. My designs are colorful, but I still like to keep it clean and simple. Its menswear-inspired, in a way, but also very me - modern, mellow and fun


How did you feel after it launched? 


It felt like the beginning of something promising, and it was exciting and overwhelming at the same time. And getting that first sale was just amazing. The feeling that someone actually bought something I designed was exhilarating. Although I designed for the corporate world for decades and my menswear designs were in so many stores, this was different. This is my vision and people like it enough to buy it. That is a great feeling!


Where do you draw your design inspiration from? 

I have a math background and I naturally gravitate towards clean lines and geometry. I take a lot of inspiration from mid-century and Bauhaus-style architecture, colors, patterns, and textiles.  I love the simplicity of the shapes and the usage of bold colors in that era. I am also an avid gardener and in awe of the intensity of colors in nature. But then also, inspiration is everywhere, in new modern art, in furniture, in nail colors, book covers, and home furnishings….I take all this in and make it my own.




As a female founder and a member of the AAPI Community, how important was it for you to bring both those identities into your company and your work? 


I grew up in India and went to design school there. So, the thought of identity never came up when I entered the design world. For me, identity is more about the freedom of expressing my vision in my work. I don't consciously try to incorporate my ethnicity into my work. I believe it just makes subtle appearances. Growing up in India, you are surrounded by color and don't even realize it. My use of warm yellows in my designs is definitely an influence of all the yellows from the marigolds, turmeric, and mustard yellows I was surrounded by while growing up in India. Some of the color combinations I use are inspired by classic combinations from traditional Indian textiles. 


Was there a defining moment in your company’s history (so far) when you knew you created something special?


When buyers complimented my work and placed orders at my first trade show in NY, that was an amazing feeling. All the self-doubt just slips away when you realize stores actually want to carry your stuff on their shelves. And when I got re-orders from dream stores, I knew I created something special.


What has been the reaction of customers to your brand?


My customers have always been amazing even in the early Etsy days. The most common reaction I get is that they love the colors I use and my designs make them happy  And that makes my day. 


Any special customer stories that you want to share? 


I had this customer who loved my designs so much that she wanted me to print them on more products, not just paper products. She wanted water bottles, phone covers, coasters and even towels and so I put my designs on Society6 so that she could buy my designs in different products. 


At Fruitloots, we call all the amazing products that we find our “loot”. What's your favorite piece of “loot” you have created?


My favorite is definitely the rainbow checkerboard pattern I designed. It may look like a simple checkerboard but has 12 different colors. And to get it to look balanced and still bold, it took so many iterations to decide the right shades and which colors go next to each other. I love it so much that I have the rainbow checkerboard design on wrapping paper, notebooks, cards, and gift tags. And my customers love this design. It's modern, colorful, and fun whether it's a notebook or a wrapping paper.


Rainbow Notebook


Tell us about the Fruitloots products that we have chosen. (notebooks) 


Notebooks have a special place in my heart. I used to collect notebooks growing up and I still do. The tactile nature of writing on paper is just so special. I put special care into the design and quality of our notebooks. The perfect bound notebooks in rainbow checkerboard and a minimalist B&W terrazzo come in a soft touch cover for a luxurious feel. The saddle stitched pop checkerboard and yellow grid are more casual and are perfect to throw in your bag or carry around. All the notebooks have thick inside paper and are perfect if you choose to write with a fountain pen. And the covers are so fun and colorful, you would want to show them off at meetings !!


Where do you see your company in 10 years?


My vision is to take my brand into other products. More of a lifestyle. I recently launched retro-inspired pillows which have been successful. I want to add wallpaper, textiles, bags, and ceramics …and maybe one day have my own store where I could also sell all my favorites from other artists and brands!


If you could do a special collaboration with any person in the world, who would it be and why?


I love the work of Brooklyn-based artist Tom Fruin. The play of light in his plexiglass houses is so cool. Maybe a wrapping paper series or a notebook collection? I also love the work of Canadian illustrator Helen Dardik. Have you seen her painting videos? I watch them on repeat .So mesmerizing and vibrant! 


Any advice to other Female or AAPI entrepreneurs? 


Be comfortable in who you are and who you identify as, as a person and as an entrepreneur. And you don't have to fit into any mold. Some people like to take it slow, some like to jump in, some like to multi-task and some like to tackle one thing at a time. Do what works for you and do it consistently. Because only you know your strengths and limitations and what works best for you and your business. So, be open to advice but just do you!


If you could throw a party, with an unlimited budget and you could invite anyone, tell us about the party and who would be there! 


Ha ha! tough question as I am highly introverted and parties just suck the life out of me. But if I had an unlimited budget, my idea of a good time would be camping in Airstream Campers on a pristine private island beach in Hawaii with close friends, family and books. And lots of good food and drinks served up by a campfire. 


Last question. If you could be any fruit, what would it be and why?


Definitely a watermelon. It's tough on the outside and bright and juicy on the inside.

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Photos courtesy of MELLOWWORKS.

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