Entrepreneur Anjana Arjun’s sustainable brand uses apple skin and cactus leather to make handbags

Anjana Arjun became a fashion designer quite by accident. She always wanted to be a photographer and with that interest applied to LaSalle College of Arts in Singapore. But the only course available was in media and fashion industries, and since it was arts, she thought she would fit in.

“The course broadened my perspectives on the industrial and commercial aspect of fashion. My thesis was about fashion as a business, where I had to make a business case with marketing, financial strategies, focus on product and packaging and that got me through. I wanted to broaden my knowledge in the field,” she says. His history.

She applied to Parsons Institute in New York and graduated in 2015 with a major in fashion marketing and an internship at Porenza Schouler, and worked with Tahari before deciding to return to India in 2019.

Raising awareness of sustainable fashion

From the Sarjaa collection

Chennai, her hometown, did not offer her many choices, which led her to think with her family to start on her own.

“I’ve always been interested in sustainability and sustainable materials in fashion. As a person very close to animals and nature, this is very dear to me. Also, fashion being the third most polluting industry in the world, I wanted to raise awareness about sustainable fashion in India,” says Anjana.

Instead of jutes and linens, Anjana decided to focus on sustainable materials that would be associated with style and chic. Initially, she thought about designing clothes, but after researching plant skins and fruit leathers, she decided to start small and said handbags made the best sense.

“I went with my last name, Sarjaa, but with a double A to reflect my name. It’s also my grandfather’s name and my father’s last name. Also, Sarja is the name of the tree associated with my celestial departure, the moola nakshatra. The tree is said to give the grower a long and happy life, and that’s sustainability to me,” she explains.

Manufactured at its factory in Karnataka, Sarjaa launched last month with six designs in its debut collection. They understand:

Pracheen- A classic apple skin leather handbag, with the interior lining made from ethically sourced Eri silk, while the printed lining comes from the designs of a renowned South Indian henna artist.

Sebu – Sebu, which means apple in Kannada, is made of apple skin leather. The lining is organic cotton and the zippers are made from 70% post-consumer recycled metal.

Dua – This roomy tote is a must-have work bag, with roomy zippered compartments and pockets.

Punya- It can be used as a clutch or a shoulder bag and can be paired with western and Indian clothing. Its magnetic closing button is made of recyclable aluminum and the inner lining of the bag is made of organic cotton.

Sarjaa

Anjana Arjun

Kala – The bag features elements made with leather derived from fruit waste, as well as other organic materials.

Kenti – This mini bag is inspired by the kettlebell by its shape (ergonomic handle) and its design.

She admits that apple leather was hard to come by, but cactus and pineapple leather are easy to find but very hard to work with.

She points out that every leather is different and matching it to a particular design is a challenge.

“My team and I pushed ourselves to the limit to make it work. There is no use of PVC or toxic chemicals in the process, and I can proudly say that we are 80% sustainable and strive to make the process 95% sustainable,” adds- she.

Sarjaa uses plantable seed paper in its packaging which can be used to grow plants.

“We have tried to be as transparent as possible about our sustainability efforts and Sarjaa is for people who care about the planet and an eco-friendly lifestyle. We also aim to create awareness in this direction,” says Anjana.

The bags are priced full – between Rs 24,999 and Rs 44,999, and available on its website, sarjaa.in.

“I think I can call my dad’s business Sarjaa the same way and it’s just my brain working for him. I couldn’t be more grateful to my family for supporting me in pushing this concept forward. “, she concludes.