“Kanjana Handmade was inspired by our mother’s hobby. After she retired, she learned tie dye and started making bags. At that time, we were both living in Bangkok and working full-time. Her bags were popular so we sold them to friends but she could only make one a day, or two at the most if she worked really hard. One day she taught us how to do tie dye and after that, Ravie quit her job to work on Kanjana full-time. We are both creative souls and wanted to have a creative lifestyle. I was working as an interior designer and getting tired of office life so I quit my job to work as freelancer. I design restaurants and I have always wanted to have a café’ so as soon as we moved to Chiang Mai, we rented this space and renovated it ourselves. I opened Jane’s Kitchen one a half years ago. Ravie leads Kanjana and I lead Jane’s Kitchen but we work together and support each other.”
“I really learned quite a bit with Jane’s Kitchen. Sometimes dreaming of having something and then getting it and realizing that you have to keep running with it is a very different reality. Having Jane’s Kitchen has always been a dream of mine. I have serious sketches of this place that I had made over the years. I picked it as a job and everybody that walks through the door gives me such positive reinforcement. It’s amazing but I am still learning how to strike the right balance between the creative and business side of things. The creative me wants to do new things all the time but customers expect some consistency so I have to stick to a certain menu and it becomes a bit repetitive. I have learned that to keep at it and grow Jane’s Kitchen I have to focus on the business aspect as well. A good balance of creativity and practicality is really important”.
“The secret of Kanjana’s success has been uniqueness, good relationship with customers, and determination. We got on the market when this type of tie dye was still new here. We are not fashion designers but we learn as we go and it is a very organic process. Our style is more graphic and the pattern more similar to Japanese Shibori. Every piece is unique and this is sometimes that a lot of customers truly value. You can’t run into someone else wearing your same clothes. The important thing is that you have to stick to it and keep doing it.”
“We started selling on Etsy from the very beginning. My sister was living in Toronto and she introduced us to Etsy, set up the account and walked us through it. The outreach is great and it worked really well but because we only have one item per design, I ended spending a lot of time taking pictures and writing descriptions. I needed to put at least 1 or 2 new listings every day to be found easily on searches. Right now we don’t have the staffpower to do that so we are temporarily off Etsy. We also need to increase production to go back. For now we sell most of our stock in Bangkok and it goes really quickly.”
“What’s really important to us is to live a very productive creative lifestyle and make it as business. We have been growing the businesses slowly and organically and we are very happy this way. Sometimes big is not the purpose and before deciding whether to ‘go big’, we would have to define what big means and what it entails. Both of us are creative souls and perhaps one option is to actually go the opposite direction and make it even smaller, focusing on creating art. We don’t want to solve the problem of making a thousand pillows. We want to solve the problem of making 5 pillows really well and really precious.”
“Our advice to young women thinking of starting their own business is ‘just do it’. Don’t look at what other people are doing and listen to your heart. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do it. Don’t look at what’s going to be popular because if you define your business and your passion by what’s popular, then you will always be following the market. And make sure you reach out and collaborate with reliable people.”