‘KalaCircle’, a students’ cool start-up blends art and fashion


Divya Cutinha spoke to the founders and team of KalaCircle a startup by students of an engineering college in Mangaluru that is growing in popularity.

'KalaCircle’, is a cool start-up formed by a group of youngsters, all still students at National Institute of Technology-Karnataka (NIT-K) Surathkal in Mangaluru. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, they wanted to do something unique of their own. It was 2017 and e-commerce was the in thing as regards ease of doing business was concerned. They brainstormed and came up with the idea of “KalaCircle.”

KalaCircle, is all about young people and trending designs. At a time when there is so much demand for designer labels, KalaCircle aims to promote artists’ designs, and when you buy them you will know who its designer is too.

Speaking to Karnataka Today about their startup “KalaCircle” and the entire team behind it, Manmohan Malani, one of the co-founders, said, “Kala stands for art in Sanskrit. As the name suggests, KalaCircle is a platform for the creators and the lovers of art. We help artists and designers to monetise their art through our T-Shirts. Our aim is to democratise art while delivering real value to its creators and consumers. We are a team of nine individuals: Nikhil, Abheet, Sharon, Atharv, Shubham, Prakash, Vishak with Manmohan Malani and Vivek Khedkar as co-founders. We did a college level launch in October last year and with all the feedback and further ground work, we took it one step further. Recently, we have launched our website and along with this, we have started delivering throughout India.”

So how does KalaCircle work? “We make quality art T-shirts, designs for which are submitted by artists all over India. We have a diverse collection of T-shirts which is constantly growing with generous submissions from illustrators, graphic designers and doodlers”, Malani adds.

“The artists get royalty on per sale basis which is transferred to their bank account every month. Artists and designers can contact us on any of our social media handles on FB/Instagram or mail us at artists@kalacircle.com to register with us”, Vivek Khedkar said.

Most of the artists designing tees for KalaCircle, Malani says, are from various academic backgrounds with a fair number of them being freelancers also. “They are from different parts of India. Our common love and enthusiasm for art is the heart and soul of KalaCircle. “

The quirky graphics resonate with the youth. The graphics featuring Buddha, Shiva, Steve Jobs, Bollywood, the beach and the tequila etc., based on trending figures work as their USP. The T-shirts are made affordable for college-goers.

“We often see youngsters wearing T-shirts of Che Guevara or Bob Marley. The desi as well as the western touch to these tees are in great demand. Our artists belong to the group of people who in turn are our customers. Hence, they very well know the current trends which reflect in the designs they make. Hence, KalaCircle houses a diverse collection of Desi/Non-Desi designs“, Khedkar said.

The response to their products which are innovative yet simple, has been tremendous. “The in-campus response and the growing number of artists motivated us to take the concept to the next level. Now, we have started delivering throughout India,” expressed a beaming Malani.

They used Facebook as a marketing strategy to increase demand for their products. “We’re yet to make big profits. But yeah, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention! Along with solid quality t-shirts, we are focused towards marketing to promote our products.“

The future plans of the young team include being a leading facilitator for the democratization of art and making it a part of everyday life. “We are focused towards art t-shirts and that is the future plan right now”, Khedkar says.

The founders of KalaCircle, one of the unique startups from Mangaluru, have a message for the readers and young budding entrepreneurs. “The journey of our entrepreneurship has been short so far and we are yet to face the actual struggles. However, we have learnt one thing so far: If you have the right team, sharp focus towards the problem you are solving and are able to take action accordingly, you will definitely get to pluck the fruits.”

The team keeps their social media followers updated with the latest designs and future arrivals. Though new and not belonging to business background, they have their own tricks in making their products quite popular. Their hard work seems to have paid off as most of their designs have caught the eyes of the youngsters inside campus as well as online. With their online presence growing in leaps and bounds, Mangaluru’s KalaCircle seems set for a bright future.

Orders can be placed at www.kalacircle.com.

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