In Conversation with - Keshsa Vasant
What comes to your mind when I say 'Banana'? - For me, it's mostly a rich chocolate banana smoothie.
I never imagined I'd associate banana with paper and stationary. Yep! You're not mistaken.
I was so surprised and impressed to learn of such a delicious way to use stationary. I'd known Keshsa, long before her lovely brain child 'Ikksha' and it didn't come as a surprise to me that she would start a brand based on eco-friendly products, but banana fibre was definitely new to me.
As someone who absolutely loves, adores and hoards stationary, especially journals, I fell in love with her work instantly. In this conversation, we learn a bit about Ikksha and the lovely Keshsa.
Q - Hi, please tell us a little about yourself
Hi, My name is Keshsa Vasant. I am a Digital Marketer by the day and a hustler and Mandala/dot painting artist by the night. I am the founder of Ikksha, an eco-conscious stationery brand making writing materials from plant fibers. My ultimate dream in life is to start a petting zoo.
Q – Was it your dream to become and artist/an entrepreneur?
People would always look up to my father because he was running a very successful IT company. My heart was always filled with pride every time someone appreciated the dedication, hard work and perseverance my father had for his business and for everything he has achieved. Naturally, everyone around me always asked if I would be an entrepreneur like him but I would politely decline and say “I want to be a vet. I love animals and hope to give back to these wonderful fur friends of ours in anyway I can” But I guess, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree huh. From dreaming to be a vet to starting business, my dreams have come a long way.
I was raised around family members who were entrepreneurs. I have seen people start their business from ground up, grow them and eventually sell them. This helped my dream evolve and give me direction on what I wanted to do in the future.
Q – Please tell us a little about Ikksha
Ikksha was started with the aim to provide eco-friendly options to the stationery lover in us. Thus, we created writing supplies from BANANA PAPER. Wondering why banana paper? The production of banana paper when compared to wood paper has minimal impact on the environment since it does not use process chemicals and uses less energy during the production. Making the banana paper live longer, biodegradable and recyclable.
Keeping this in mind, we made Ikksha au natural. To compliment the natural properties of the banana paper I used natural dyes, soy ink, coconut button bookmarks and banana fibre fastener to make the collection flawlessly natural. Not only are our journals pretty but they have pockets and pen holder loops to make it functional.
Q – How did you come up with the name?
Iksha means “Sight” in Sanskrit. When I was looking to start the stationery line, I wanted to have an Indian name for the brand. The idea behind wanting an Indian name was that when the brand went global, I would have the opportunity to share the rich culture of India. India is rich in history, designs and patterns with deep scientific meaning and Ikksha would be my platform to showcase it to the world.I am Proud to be an Indian.
Journaling has many scientific benefits and one of it being it gives clarity to the mind. When people write down their thoughts, their mind clears and it gives them a certain direction and a vision to see life in a different way. Thus writing gives you a sight into the direction of life you can choose to take, in other words it gives you Ikksha.
Q – Please tell us about your milestone journey, the hurdles etc?
Ikksha has come a long way since it started. As an entrepreneur, there were several hurdles I had to overcome both mentally and externally in the initial days.
To mention a few, as a young, small product brand it was very important for me was to gain the trust of the vendors before gaining the trust of the customers. It took time to build this relationship but this was very important since this would define the quality of products that I would offer. Apart from vendor relations, the other challenge was to build a team that aligned with my vision for the brand. The team makes or breaks the brand and so it was important I hire the right team.
Mentally, as an entrepreneur self-doubt is inevitable, at least in the beginning. There were many days were I was demotivated and highly discouraged with what I was doing when something went wrong. But fortunately for me, I have the best team and some of the most amazing support systems around me that helped me during my lowest times. This helped me get back on my feet the next day.
Milestones - Ikksha is now retailing in over 10 retailers around the globe and is growing.