Aussie startup spices up the online shopping space with styles from India

- July 29, 2013 2 MIN READ

The aesthetics of India has made its mark on Australia; and a growing number of businesses are embracing designs from the region to meet consumer demand. There is one startup, however, that stands out from the crowd – The New Punjab Trading Company.

Unlike many businesses importing goods from India, The New Punjab Trading Company hand-designs their own home furnishings and fashion accessories, adding a modern edge to traditional styles.

Drawing inspiration from the colourful and vibrant culture of India, designer extraordinaire and owner of the new lifestyle brand, Cheri Flewell-Smith has always sketched designs with the intent of telling a story.

She stresses that to be truly creative, “each design has to have special meaning, it has to reflect something that is close to your heart”.

Born and raised in Australia, Flewell-Smith has not always been a fan of particular religious and cultural items such as the turban, but today, she maintains a strong connection with her cultural roots. The memory of her grandfather, Teja Singh, is the biggest driving force.

She says her grandfather migrated from India when he was 18 and initially worked as a cane cutter, but later ran a dairy farm that the family still own today.

Two years ago, unfortunately, he passed away. And it was when she and her family went back to India to scatter his ashes that the idea for this business was born.

She recalls she was walking through a bazaar in her grandfather’s village in Punjab, when she noticed craftsmen making freshly dyed scarfs on a barrel over fire.

“It was just stunning. I remember thinking that we rarely get to see such beautiful craftsmanship,” says Flewell-Smith.

Travelling throughout India with her family – from Rajasthan to Jaipur – she discovered the creations of talented craftsmen and was inspired to create a label.

It was not long after that Flewell-Smith noticed a growing trend towards ethnic goods in Australia.

“There’s a push towards people wanting to know more about provenance and not wanting anything that is mass-produced or mass-manufactured. People want something unique,” she says.

Whether scarves, bangles, necklaces or cushions, Flewell-Smith sketches out every design and takes those sketches to India. The craftsmen then bring the designs to life.

Since its launch in March, the business is rapidly attracting customers with the help of business blogging and social media interactivity.

When the business experiences further growth, Flewell-Smith plans to turn The New Punjab into a pop-up cafe.

Indian-inspired homewares and fashion accessories are available to purchase on the company website.