October 25, 2014
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From passion to profession…
Many celebrities like actress and activist Amala Akkineni prefer wearing terracotta jewelry over their most valuable jewels because of her; Madhuri Dasagrandhi talks to the trendsetter Hema S Subramanyam, CEO of Color D Earth…

Life of a woman entrepreneur is very tough, but Hema S Subramanyam considers every day as an exciting learning opportunity and it becomes a little easier. A single mother; Hema hardly knew that joining a clay modeling class with her kids will change her life forever. She was so intrigued by the versatility of the medium that she decided to explore it more and did a specialization in terracotta jewelry. There has been no looking back for her since then.
Hema says, “It is one of the most interesting and sought after hand crafted jewelry today. Riverbed clay has such an unlimited scope of design and when hand painted in a myriad of colors, its magic is to be seen and worn to be believed. Terracotta jewelry is for a woman who likes to express her individuality, her earthy attitude and unique dressing style.”

She adds, “When I started Alank-riti in Bangalore in 2003, we were a much smaller unit. I focused more on the creative aspect of Alankriti, rather than its business model. I was selected to be a part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurs Certificate Programme at ISB in 2009. That changed the course of my work and brought about much more business acumen and direction. We are committed to maintain all best practices and all our processes are humane, fair and ecologically balanced.”

Through Color D Earth, Hema aims to play a key role in bringing social and economic benefits to terracotta artisans all over India. Color D Earth helps artisans in selling their work not just as accessories, but as a story that speaks of the hard work that goes into creating a magical piece of art, which can be worn and cherished.

Hema claims that the journey wasn’t easy and she had to face a lot of challenges. She elaborates, “I suppose Color D Earth is the first exclusive terracotta studio in the twin cities and I dare say in India, which showcases the widest and best variety of terracotta jewelry from all over the country. Constantly monitoring the artisans to make sure we deliver the best quality is indeed tough. Finding and inspiring people to be committed, is an art. We support 11 artisan groups from all over the country and making this venture profitable has been a challenge. This feeling of being able to make a positive impact on the livelihoods of even a small section of society is rewarding.”

The process of making terracotta jewelry is long and a lot of hard work goes into each piece. Giving artisans the true value of their labor of love is Hema’s endeavor. Though she came across many people who never want to wear anything beyond diamond, gold and silver, but even that is slowly changing. Hema reveals, “We have customers who have started wearing our collection to weddings with their finest silk sarees. Actress and animal welfare activist Amala Akkineni is definitely our most famous client. She wears our jewelry and gifts it to all her friends as well.”

In this competitive world, being unique is the only way to stay ahead of others. Hema says, “There is no dearth of competitors and imitation in the market. We differentiate ourselves through our constant commitment to variety, quality, intricacy and our customer service.
We recently launched our online store as well to showcase our artisans work to the world. I want to make Color D Earth an internationally acclaimed social enterprise by making a bigger impact on the terracotta artisan community.”
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