Eight years ago, when Lilia Jose brought home an unusual number of bags following a shopping spree, little did she know that she would run into Roshan, her future work partner and husband, the same day, or that years later, they would be making bags together for a living. Their shared passion for art, photography, and design has kept this entrepreneurial couple’s journey gratifying and exciting at the same time. “We believe what makes it work, is having our separate areas of expertise. Though we both have our roles at LiloRosh well defined, we constantly take feedback from each other. We are both well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It helps to keep duties and expectations more realistic and at the same time, push each other to do better. Being in this together makes the challenges we face seem less daunting, and the victories more exhilarating,” says Lilia.
A graduate in Apparel and Fashion Technology, and a sucker for fabrics, Lilia’s design background has taken their business a long way, providing a strong sense of quality and finish. Roshan, who has art and creativity ingrained in his blood, has worked as a creative director and illustrator. Artie’s inception can be traced back to Roshan’s need for an art bag, one that could efficiently store and display all of his art essentials. Although he, along with his uncle Johns, another artist from the family, had worked to create one such bag, the result turned out to be one that resembled a dead rat.
After several failed attempts, finally, Lilia decided to give it a shot. Having only made simple totes so far, this step was indeed a giant leap, a challenging one. “From the earlier uncomplicated totes I was used to, stitching this bag was quite a jump for me. Though it was with much difficulty, we managed to finish the bag and were quite proud of the end result. We were very eager to show it to Rosh’s colleagues. So the very next day he took it to office. Everybody loved it and Rosh came back with two orders.” And that was how, Lilia shares, Artie, their signature, unparalleled grab-n-go artists’ satchel was born.
LiloRosh, the couple’s eponymous art-and-design label, has received praise from the likes of world-renowned animation feature film director Aaron Blaise, who lauded Artie for its efficiency and finish. “Each time we work on a new design or a bag, it is extremely exciting for us,” the vibrant couple say with all excitement. LiloRosh does not just sell readymade bags; its USP is meticulous customisation. “We speak to our clients in detail and learn what they are looking for. If the customisation is only in terms of fabric, we share pictures of the available fabrics with them. For the more complicated bespoke bags, the clients send us pictures and dimensions of the things they want to carry in the bag.”
In their initial years, LiloRosh worked exclusively on creating Arties. Eventually, owing to increasing demand, more products were added to their Artist Series, including casual satchels, laptop bags and sleeves, and other custom designs. They continue to learn and explore new spheres of bag making and recently attended screen-printing classes, hoping to begin printing their own fabrics. The couple is excited for the launch of the latest addition to their range—the Smartie, a tri-fold kit, which can hold five pens and a sketchbook. Apart from these products, LiloRosh will be delivering 1,000 handmade sling bags for an after-school programme. Talking about her experience working on such a large order, Lilia says, “This is our second bulk order. The first batch included 1,000 backpacks for kids under the age of 15. Sourcing the raw materials and managing the production in such large quantities was quite a learning experience!”
With their blend of perfection and fine craftsmanship, LiloRosh has truly set themselves apart. The couple travels extensively and is always sketching, conceiving ideas, and looking for inspiration. Talking about work-life balance, a much needed quotient in any entrepreneur’s life, Lilia chips in with a chuckle, “There is pretty much zero work-life balance on a day-to-day basis. On days we are working, work can spill over into the nights. There are no weekdays or weekends. We enjoy this haphazard manner of working as of now.”
The venture has been a wonderful platform for both Lilia and Roshan to express their artistic ideas. LiloRosh began with a passion and a purpose, and if one possesses them, “Then you are golden! Constant practice and learning, and a willingness to break out of your comfort zone, positivity, humility and confidence are virtues that will take you forward. Always value your work and very importantly, never fall for crowdsourcing,” the jovial couple wraps up with a few words for all those who have set out on artistic pursuits.