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Pachouli: The Birth, Tales of La Familia and Homecoming of an Artform

Pachouli: The Birth, Tales of La Familia and Homecoming of an Artform

An off-spring of a legacy brand, Pachouli sits at the crossroads of heritage and innovation.

1974, The undulating arches of Aatish Market in the walled city of Jaipur saw queues of local traders waiting to sample the finest fabrics in the world. Courtesy? Late Shri Chand Bihari Lalji Rana. Perched in the three-storeyed Poornima Handicrafts overlooking Tripolia Bazaar, Rana wanted to be the maestro of Rajasthan’s textiles.

Poornima Handicrafts

And that he did. Coming from a colossal family of sari traders, Rana knew the business in and out. From styling the royal family of Jaipur to making Poornima a household name, he had paved a path for his lineage to follow.

But he had to pass on the baton way before he was ready. Rana’s chronic illness meant the onus now fell on his son–Ganesh Rana.

With his boyish ways and the spark set ablaze by his father, Ganesh took Poornima Handicrafts to the world. Tapping into the connections nurtured by his father and forming new ones, he flew Poornima’s produce to the States, Australia and European countries. The product line once restricted to saris forayed into bedsheets, bed covers, quilts, pillow covers and more–to cater to the global clientele.

With all this expansion and the potential for 10x, there was a need for more hands on deck. Hence Renu Rana, Ganesh’s newly-wed bride, was summoned by her father-in-law to join the family business. Many questioned Rana’s decision as the industry had not seen a female at the helm before, but he had given his word.

Years passed and the couple took the hand-block printing industry by storm. The humble headquarters of Poornima had traders thronging through the Thar to bulk-buy Jaipur’s beloved craft form from the best-in-business.

But it wasn’t just success for one. In the 2000s, the Ranas engaged with some Japanese traders who gave great business to Jaipur’s other artists too, and hence emerged a new pool of exporters from the city.

Poornima was now well-travelled. If it was hand-blocked, it was most likely a Poornima. But one thing kept Ganesh awake most nights–Poornima never came home. In the running to dress the blue blood and make hand-block printing a known affair, Poornima never retailed in its hometown Jaipur.

And like his father, Ganesh knew the next best step was to trust the gen-next. So his son Mohit was roped in to fill the big shoes.

Globe-trotting with his father for trade fairs from the age of 10 and taking over buyer meetings a few years later, Mohit was determined to take Poornima further and closer. While Mohit overlooked the exports, his wife Namarat was offered a chance at retail by her father-in-law.

Namrata–a BBA graduate and fashion enthusiast–tied the knot with Mohit in 2008. A few years post-marriage, she was asked by Ganesh to join the business and bring Poornima home.

Her younger one was barely a few months old in 2014 when Ganesh informed the family of Poornima’s shifting from Aatish Market to a bigger manufacturing space in Sitapura.

The vacant haveli–which once also served as HH Maharani Gayatri Devi’s office during her tenure as an MLA–was now Namarata’s playground. While she could be all sorts of creative, some things Ganesh appreciated remained untouched. Namarata was not to change the heritage feel of the building, only to restore it. And, the retail unit would also be called Poornima.

While Namrata nodded along to the first condition, she was a bit iffy about the second. Why? Because Poornima was entirely into home, and Namrata’s research pointed at launching into retail with apparel, hence she wanted a differentiator or a sub-brand.

What ensued then was a month-long brainstorming session (read banter) in the Rana house. “Papa couldn’t attach himself to anything but Poornima, and I knew I wanted something different,” says Namrata.

Rounds of discussions with patrons, team members, family and friends were held until ‘Pachouli’ was set in stone.

Patchouli–the aromatic oil extracted from an indigenous shrub–was a popular indulgence for Indian royalty and foreign perfumery enthusiasts alike. And, it was gradually making its way into the Indian markets through colognes and essential oils.

It all fell into place. Like Poornima, Patchouli had served the royal blood, seen the world and was finally coming home to spread its goodness. 

February 2016. The legacy walls of Poornima Handicrafts in Aatish were decked up to launch its daughter company–Pachouli. A brand new hand-block retail range from the house of Poornima into apparel–designed by Namrata herself, accessories, bed, dining and living.

The courtyard which was once home to large looms was now holding apparel stands with kids’ and women’s lines. The treasure chest of a wooden table, which was once the cornerstone of HH Maharani Gayatri Devi’s office, was now Namrata’s design table.

And just like that, the old seamlessly blended with the new. Poornima gave its wisdom to Pachouli as it was ready to set sail. The Pink City beautifully embraced this concept store and the promise of 100% natural fabric with artforms Jaipur was emblematic of.

Pachouli loved the city back, and hosted many Teej and Gangaur procession viewings from its jharokhas overlooking Tripolia. The sweetness of the ghewar, infectious smiles of patrons and warm greetings–courtesy of the staff, fill the Pachouli courtyards with great delight. 

Riding high on this glee, Namrata wanted to expand and adapt. Hence came about the Pachouli official website in 2020. A way to reach textile enthusiasts around the country, the website soon turned into a profitable business avenue. Concept phygital stores Ladu, Jaypore and Ogaan were also roped in to retail Pachouli products. 

And now, Namrata aims to integrate Pachouli into multi-designer showrooms and launch flagship stores of her own pan-India. While this is the goal for years to come, what’s on the calendar this year is just as important.

2024 marks Poornima’s glorious 50 years in business. With artisans, patrons, family and friends, Poornima HQ in Sitapura and Pachouli will gleam with lights and laughter to celebrate its travels, homecoming and love for craft.

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