Saturday 24 October, 2020

Attorney's passion for concrete art blossoms into business

Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.

Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.

A young attorney’s hobby and passion for concrete art has blossomed into a side business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

30-year-old Nikhil Bhagirath told Loop News he began his love of plants as a teenager when he was gifted some succulents and cacti and began searching for unique planters to put them in.

Nikhil said he was searching for alternatives to plastic and decided to start making his own.

‘I started because of my love of plants and my aversion to plastic planters. My aunt gave me a few cacti and succulents when I was in Form One and I began researching how best to grow them.’

‘Porous clay pots were suggested and then I thought... What about concrete? That's very porous also.’

He said some online research led him to some helpful tutorials and he began delving into the art of concrete planters.

(Photo: Concrete planters pigmented with iron oxide. The colour will not scratch or fade. Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.)

‘It was so much fun I never stopped,’ he said.

Nikhil said since then he continued honing his art, trying different techniques and designs.

He said his inspiration comes from many sources:

‘My inspiration comes from nature, brutalist architecture (a style of modern architecture using monolithic shapes), minimalism and Japanese landscape design. I like the versatility of concrete, it can be rugged, it can be chic, it all depends on how you use it.’

(Photo: Tiny crafted houses which are used as part of fairy garden displays. Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.)

His work leans toward earthy, natural tones.

‘Strong earth tones appeal to me that's why I don't use vivid coloured rocks and sand in my succulent arrangements and my planters reflect this. I love the look of alpine settings, desertscapes, Zen rock gardens, it's calming to me.’

(Photo: Round concrete planters moulded with local caraili leaves for a unique touch. Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.)

He also implements local materials in his designs, even using a caraili leaf as a mould for one of his planters.

‘Some of my planters are directly inspired by nature as I've used different leaves from local plants to get botanical imprints. I'm always so excited to see how a new planter turns out even though I've made so many. It's like the feeling I get opening presents Christmas morning each time I demould a new pot or figurine...anything that I've made.’

(Photo: Moai statues which give a fun feel to succulent arrangements. Moai are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island in eastern Polynesia between the years 1250 and 1500. Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.)

As he shared his designs, soon friends and others encouraged him to make them for sale.  

‘I started selling my items after gifting a few and people saying 'Wow you made this?? It's beautiful! You should open a shop!' as it has happened a few times.’

He said his friends encouraged him to share his work, but he only began selling his pieces late last year.

‘I didn't really get into selling until the end of 2019. So far, the reception of my work has been extremely positive. People comment on my designs so graciously. I appreciate every comment on my posts as I always try to do neat work and I'm really glad that people appreciate the care that I put into each piece.’

He said the lockdown has also helped him to focus more on his art.

‘COVID-19 has definitely given me the little push to transform my hobby into a business. It was always a plan at the back of my mind that I never got around to doing. I've always had something more 'urgent' to handle.’

‘Life changed a lot with the coronavirus. Slower pace, home a lot. Time to explore what could be done whilst at home. Staying at home has been my family's main way of prevention, limited exposure to the public so you can imagine how boring things get after a while. I began spending more time on my hobby and decided to grow my Instagram profile, posted some of my work and the response overwhelmed me.’

‘I got so many DMs (direct messages) about where my shop is, but I have no physical shop as yet.  I also got queries about customer orders and a lot of compliments. It was really exciting,’ he said.

(A hand-crafted concrete planter with a succulent and cactus arrangement around a laughing Buddha statue. Photos courtesy Nikhil Bhagirath.)

Nikhil said although the pandemic is difficult, there are still ways for entrepreneurs to succeed.

‘I think that people should embrace the entrepreneurial spirit during this pandemic period, if they have the time and it's within their means. I think it would benefit them greatly, especially those who lost their jobs and aren't getting any opportunities. I hope they explore those ideas that they may have always had but never had the time,’ he said.

He also thanked his family, especially his parents Leela and Dayanand Bhagirath for helping him with business and supporting his vision.

To see more of his work, visit his Instagram profile here: 

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