Located in Sunnyvale at the intersection of Wolfe and Old San Francisco road, is this aesthetically appealing Indian craft store, I-Mart -"Indian crafts enrich and inspire". A store started by Mrs. Anupama Kumaran in 2010, with the sincere interest to promote Indian Art, Culture and Traditions.
Born, raised in Chennai and married to a Chennaite in 2003, Anupama (Anu) is a Fine Arts Graduate from Stella Maris College, Chennai. Being passionate about art, drawing and painting, her skills of appreciating Indian Art aids her in choosing artifacts and building the store tastefully.
Before moving to US, Anupama had the experience of working as a designer/merchandiser for Apparel, and was involved in the manufacture of clothing for Levis, J.C.Penny, Fox racing, uniforms for Toy R us, Macys, Antigua to name a few.... Her experience over a period of 15 yrs in her career gave her the opportunity to work with international clients, their needs and visit US and UK countries. This experience gave her the confidence and a clear idea about the working conditions in US.
Although commercially viable, the lack of creativity and stressfulness of the job made Anu change her career. Then on, she wanted to pursue her dream, to set an Art Store in Chennai. Anu believes that “Indian art and crafts draws attention and spreads a positive energy to the surroundings. Be it the color, material, theme, craftsmanship of the article, it completely captures the onlooker”.
In 2008 Anu got an opportunity to move to US through her husband’s career. Once here, her dream to set up an Art store came to reality and hence I-Mart was born... The store comes under the umbrella of India4you which is the parent company. It represents Anu and her husband, Mr. Kumaran’s passion to promote the Indian Art and to bring India to your doorstep. Her husband's desire to contribute to society in some way was also a motivating factor to start a store like I-Mart. With a unique concept from her husband, Anu set up a store to cater to the needs of the Indian community for their Religious, Traditional and Cultural needs.
I -Mart’s caption is "Indian crafts enrich and inspire" as Anu believes every craft has a positive energy trapped in it and that it represents something good. For e.g., a terracotta horse represents valor and confidence, every God (Ishta Devata) supports a good intent and is worshipped with a certain belief. The handmade ones are vibrant because of their colors and design, painting depicts very defining themes - so every craft has a positive story to tell.
Initial research for the store needs began in 2008-2009 to find the right inventory of the arts and crafts from various parts of Incredible India...!. The challenge in doing this was arriving at a list to be on the shelves to have a fair representation of India. Unlike buying from agents who promote these crafts, Anu and her team deals directly with the craftsmen skilled in a particular art style. Her staff goes to all far off places in person and work with the craftsmen. Be it north or south, east or west, there may not be power, a proper road to drive a car, but there is this undying spirit for the art and Anu makes sure to reach that spirit. A direct relationship with the artisans helps greatly in offering customized solutions. Some of them are living and crafting such a wonderful art from places that are situated deep in India.
I-Mart has Art and Crafts that cover all parts of the country.Shawls from Kashmir to Puja conches in Kanyakumari, Wood Carvings and Cherial Paintings from Andhra Pradesh to Decorative collectables from Rajasthan, Madhubani paintings from Bihar, Brass from Tamil Nadu, Jute Products from Bengal, Mandaps from Karanataka...... the list is endless..... There are mini - Indias, within India as far as art goes. I-Mart also helps customers here in US, in making several customized and design specific art works in Rosewood furniture, Brass statues, Pooja Mandapams, Wood carvings and Paintings. This has further motivated i-mart to offer custom tailoring of Dance costumes, event decors and jewelry. I-mart is currently working with the best known tailors in India, who makes costumes for Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and other Indian dance styles.
The store’s fast moving items are Pooja Mandapams, decorative collectables, wood carvings, return gift concepts, ethnic paintings, Puja Ornaments, and Golu Dolls. Return gifting during Navarathri season brought more traffic to the store. Some parents wanted to gift teachers with Indian made products and some wanted to gift their colleagues at work during the holiday season there by drawing more customers to the store.
Since the store began, it got an active recognition during the 2011 Navarathri Season as I-Mart also showcases a wide array of colorful display of Golu dolls for Navarathri. Currently I-mart is promoting customized orders for Golu 2012 and has published the Golu catalog.
The vast collection of inventory management starts right at the sourcing office and a warehouse in Chennai, when a unique code is assigned. A lot of the work is taken care at India and then the merchandise is carefully shipped in a container that arrives directly to I-Mart store in Sunnyvale. Currently, visiting customers are given a unique customer ID to browse products online and place their orders directly. They also receive updates about the stores, deals of the week and store promotions.
Anupama believes that by buying the Indian crafts, we do a bit of support to the artisan community by way of doing business with them. I-Mart supports in cash form and helps the poor artisan family who are in need of education and health care. The craftsmen give body, life and soul to the art piece and these artisans carry a big responsibility on their shoulders in keeping the cultural history alive. Stories of Ramayanas and Mahabharatams are still alive through their artworks and crafts. Piety, Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality are reflected in their crafts.
Anupama says that it’s gratifying and a privilege that her dream, passion store I-mart is able to support the culturally active and enthusiastic Indian community in US by being able to offer 2000+ varieties of art and craft products.
The utmost satisfaction comes from knowing that the younger generation gets to benefit from all the exposure to Indian Traditions and Culture. I-mart also rents some props for the local shows and there by supporting the local community events.
Anupama resides in Cupertino with her 2 children and husband. With constant encouragement from her husband, she says working and taking care of kids is not a challenge. Instead she says that is not exclusive to her. Her Husband's' understanding of her passion is the true strength that helps her with I-Mart.