MASH COLLECTIONZ – A curated artsy lifestyle collection
No two things at the Mash Collectionz store are the same. Each piece from her collection of quaint handmade artifacts, block-print dresses, mosaic bowls to repurposed furniture and quirky quote boards, is a unique slice-of-life art. The range is also a reflection of the founder—Mahalakshmi Rajendran’s personality – colorful, lively, and full of character. Oh yes, MASH is Mahalakshmi shortened fashionably! Petite and brimming with ideas, we found that Mash (as she’s also fondly called and pronounced Marsh with the r silent), is full of optimism—in a market that is flooded with cheap manufactured imports, she’s able to hold her own through her collection.
Two things about the business are noteworthy: firstly, the collection draws from the local art talent. While Mash is the creator, she is inspired by local art and has built a community of artisans who help bring her ideas alive. Right from sourcing material such as certain types of fabric, wood, metal, paper and more, to actually putting it all together with block printers, carpenters and embroiderers among others, she’s keen on providing livelihood to artisans and helping their families in need. Secondly, she is all for the personal touch. Whether it’s about personalizing a set of pillow covers or creating trendy pouffes to suit your interiors, Mash Collectionz is ready to bring your personal touch to the product you want to buy from them.
Mash’s curated collection is also a culmination of her interests. “I remember being deeply interested in animals and fashion from when I was a little girl. My dad was an artist, and so I was probably influenced by that,” she laughs. When she could not secure a seat in veterinary science she settled for a degree in Microbiology in Chennai, after which she moved to Chicago. There she worked as an endocrinologist at the Brookfield Zoo. “I worked on hormonal studies of big cats at the zoo while I also managed a boutique. I had art shows and participated in art fairs. In the United States it was possible to do whatever one wanted to do. While there I also completed certifications in art, design and fashion from the Chicago Art Institute.”
Moving back to Chennai after 12 years, Mash took a while to find her footing. To be able to get into the groove she joined the Duchess Club and it was a great networking platform. She was able to meet likeminded people who wanted something different. She started off with fine art paintings but that didn’t take off too well. “I realized that when you say art, people get scared. Like when they see a large painting, I think they’re overwhelmed. So, I decided to put my art onto a lot of different lifestyle things. When she began offering customization on these lifestyle products, it got people excited. “I am excited when someone asks for a customization—it brings their thoughts and ideas to share space with my products, creating something that is artsy and one of a kind. As an artist, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Mahalakshmi set up her studio and her store in November 2016, blending both her interests—her love for animals and her deep interest in art. “Every artwork I create is infused with the essence of my encounters and experiences with animals and nature. Whether it’s the gentle gaze of a dog or the untamed spirit of a wild cat, these moments shape my artistic vision. It’s my way of immortalizing the profound impact animals have had on my life and I enjoy sharing that connection with the world,” confesses Mash. And her exposure to two cultures finds expression too. “You can see western and Indian fusion in a lot of my products, my work and my thoughts,” says Mash.
It’s been seven years since Mash started the brand and till date it is sold out of a single store in Chennai, apart from online. Like many businesses that rely solely on the founder’s talents and passion, it will be a tough task expanding and growing it unless there is scope to templatize the creativity in some way. This obviously requires time which is a luxury for an entrepreneur like Mash. Nevertheless, Mash hopes to open a new store in Bengaluru soon where artistry, individuality, and lifestyle will coalesce to create truly exceptional experiences for her creative-minded customers looking to be uniquely themselves.
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