Startup Cornucopia, makers of cushions, wall hangings from old clothes, plans to recycle glass, metal items

Cornucopia, a startup that was launched in January 2017 with just a sewing machine by sisters Ayesha and Manisha Desai, has broken even and now plans to widen its scope from recycling cherished clothes to metal and glass. “We broke even in March and have been profitable from May. We are looking at using metal and glass to make wall hangings and lamps or make glasses from beer bottles,” said Ayesha Desai, co-founder.

The Desai sisters have been professional social workers who were working in the development field for over 15 years. Cornucopia ( uses old clothes (kurtas, kurtis, t-shirts, shirts, sarees, dupattas, bedsheets, etc) of individuals who have fond memories and recycle it as cushions, wall hangings, etc at a price. The old clothes are either picked up from the customers home ( if they are based in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi or Gurgaon) or it is shipped to the firm directly.

The emotional requests the sisters receive from the individuals challenge them as they are unexpected. Like a pet lover sent clothes of her dog and wanted it to be to recycled into anything that would keep the pet’s memory alive. “We were surprised but with the tiny clothes we made the lady a cushion cover,” said Desai. Sometimes the requests are for manual stitches -- a lady wanted her old saris to be hand stitched to a bedspread. That is a request the sisters have to decline as Cornucopia does not work manually  on the products it makes. It uses a sewing machine instead to make memorabilia for customers.

Manisha (top) and Ayesha Desai, co-founders

Manisha (top) and Ayesha Desai, co-founders

The startup, which has five workers at present, has design templates for each of its products. These templates are shared with clients who then select the design of their choice. While most clients stick to the templates, there are some who request something apart from the templates, which are also accepted. “Each order is a learning experience for us - where we get to experiment with different fabrics, different designs as well as personalities. While it is time consuming, this has often given birth to new and interesting products,” says Desai.

The finished products are sold in a price range between Rs 2000-6000.

It all started with a trunk, says Desai, co-founder. “For years, we had been saving all our 'never to be thrown' keepsake clothes in this old trunk back home. Year after year, there would be additions, until our mother put her foot down and ordered a spring cleaning. We still couldn't part with them. Some reminded us of our wild carefree (and thin) days while others were fond memories of roommates that we shared almost everything with. That's when it hit us that... we can have our cake and eat it too! We cut up all those clothes and made a bright and colourful patchwork quilt!”

Eight years later, the patchwork quilt is still in good condition, assures Desai.

“We encourage people to try and extend the life-cycle of their clothes. Those clothes that they just don't want to part with, those clothes that just can't be donated,” Desai. Cornucopia is now working towards making zero waste hampers as gift items for Diwali.

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2017 17:15 PM

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