‘Made in India’ is a super phrase. One used today with as much pride by ad agencies as much as the brand themselves. As the husband and I savoured Pune-made Chitale Bhakarwadis at a friend’s home in Seattle, it made me realise the joy of savouring products from Pune. As someone who’s worked in the corporate space, I know that creating brands is not easy. And Pune’s proximity to Mumbai doesn’t always help the cause propelling serious shopping to the Bay rather than in the city. With Puneites known to be value conscious, these five brands walk a tight rope between their own ethic and yet add phenomenal value as they craft their own niche. A common thread is how they dip into familial roots that holds them super strong.
My eternal favourite and so as its tagline says – Pune’s Favourite Store is Either Or. A concept store that made India cool way before PlayClan, Chumbak and Happily Unmarried became well-known Indie-cool brands, it’s been in play for the last 15 years. The store in Pune is known for its collaborations with artists across the board – be it Pune’s very own Indira Broker or NGOs across the country. An easy shopping haunt to take a visitor to the city or spring in for a quick shopping spree, the store draws you in with colour and a coherent story. From a small store to now two sprawling stores in Sohrab Hall, Either Or also draws its vibe and enthusiasm from its team. Founded by Ritika and Rohit Tickoo, their stamp is on all the products in the store.
Did you know that this Pune brand Coppre exhibited their latest collaboration at the prestigious Salone d’el Mobile, Milan, in April 2016? Named Russet Revival, this series crafted with Riccardo Giovanetti Design Studio explored the elegance of the metal copper in simple shapes and basic functionalities. It took as Rashmi Ranade – the founder of Coppre admits, a detached passion to breathe fire and revive this 400-year-old craft synonymous with Pune. Having conceptualised this in 2011, Rashmi got startup support for two years from Forbes Marshall Foundation and INTACH Pune Chapter and has now a series of collections available online and has been to bring many artisans and this functional form back to life.
Having started lettuce farming as a part of his hobby and his desire to have fresh lettuce, Green Tokri was was established in 2001 by Dr Marc Cremer and his wife Benedikte in partnership with Zaheer J Vakil and Mohiuddin Mulla. Spread over 110 acres near the Sahayadri hills, this was the brainchild of Pune-born Indo-German Marc who has a PhD from Berlin’s Humboldt University in Agricultural Engineering. Fifteen years from then, Green Tokri’s vegetables, fruits, herbs, sauces are now only retailed in Pune but also sold in Mumbai, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Guwahati, Kolkata besides their own website and their produce is a name to reckon with. He says, “At the back of my mind was this desire to become a farmer. And so I left my job and decided to use my knowledge of agricultural engineering and technology to give salad farming a new spin.” So if Pune is a wee-bit healthier after munching on lettuce and green veggies, we haave Marc and Benedikte to thank!
Saying Cheese in Pune is synonymous with ABC Farms! Started in 1976 with just 14 cows, today over 70 varieties of cheese, dairy products and grains are sold in Pune and Goa through their own outlets but also making its way to different parts of the country courtesy Big Basket. Made vegetarian to suit the Indian palate, the ABC farms (named such due to Aga, Bhathena and Chinoy, the surnames of the first three founder-directors of the Company) is now completely run by Sorab Chinoy, his wife and three kids and has made cheese a part of every food table in Pune! Their Annual Cheese Festival held every year in November/ December is very much a part of Pune’s event calendar.
The story I like sharing about ADIPA is how its ceramic tile-based DIY nameplates are so synonymous with Pune and so distinctly Indian – it even makes it to a last song in the iconic English Vinglish shot in the US. When the camera pans to capture wedding celebrations across the house as it focuses on name plate “Manu Desai” (and no Medianet-like editorial integration traps here). Moment of joy for a true blue Adipa fan like me, as their work can be recognised for its uniqueness – anywhere in the world. For acclaimed potter Ruby Jhunjhunwala who started pottery commercially in the 80s, Adipa is named after her two kids (Aditya and Palak).Today, the brand is what makes a home special for over 30,000 households with its customised nameplates all across India and are even being exported to Dubai and Australia. Their pottery work adorns walls in schools, their keepsakes add texture to hotels and their murals make homes stunning. As a family we still swell with pride for the compliments we receive on the first ever floor mural Ruby customised for our Pune home. Known for their exhibitions and collaborations with other artists, Ruby and her team have ensured it’s time to put this clay work on a pedestal!
Nidhi Taparia wears many hats -- digital expert, entrepreneur, writer and coffee junkie -- with ease. A weekend Puneite, Nidhi left the city 16 years ago to fall in love with Mumbai – but Pune still is her first crush. The views expressed here are personal. Diary of a Weekend Puneite appears every Saturday.
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