As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. Rakhi Kaushik, a small town girl, has proved the strength of her wings which made her fly high in the field of fashion. She started setting benchmarks in the history of Agra long back when there was Zero awareness about fashion and fashion industry. Choosing upgraded pallet of bright colors, elaborate patterns, romancing styles topping up with dash of brilliant ideas, Rakhi worked as an ice-breaker in the patriarch male chauvinistic fashion world.
The tall heighten lady with beautiful protruding eyes has mounting strength and tremendous skills in her trade. She hails from Agra and belongs to a family where dreams are knitted with moral valued threads and life was stitched with noble needles. In her childhood, Rakhi was a star in the making.
Rakhi had it in her genes and just like Abhimanyu, she might have travelled the art of stitching in the womb itself. Rakhi is an admirer of her mother and cherishes her fond memories. She still recalls her mother’s words ‘if a woman is athirst and firm, she can still give birth to Arjun.’
Here is an apothegmatic interview of the iconic fashion designer of Agra:
Q1. Rakhi, I am personally a big fan of yours, you had opted for fashion designing when it was not at all considered a genuine and noble profession to stake your entire life. In such scenario, what tempted you to choose fashion industry as your career?
A1. Shilpa, I feel it was the ingenious talent of my mother which got transferred into me automatically. I always admired her caliber and dedication towards tailoring. Although my mom learnt stitching from Usha Stitching center so as to provide a better life to the kids but she was always creative in her work.
Further, the fame and glam world of fashion always used to fascinate me deadly. It all got infused into me at a very young age. I was in 8th standard when I started stitching. Undoubtedly, my inherited and arcane skills always stood as a support.
Q2. Was acquiring skills enough to you or you felt the need of a professional degree?
A2. Coming from a middle-class family, the outlook of parents is concise due to various reasons. They do want their children to grow but there are always limitations -societal, financial and at times, it is just maintaining the status quo.
Yes, the talent topped up with degree is always supplementary. The professional degrees lead you towards the attainment of self-sufficiency and perfection. Yes, I did want to have a degree to have a better understanding technically.
After completing my graduation from DEI, I pursued Diploma in fashion designing from IIFT, Delhi in 1996. I must say it was my luck that favored me all the time. Had I no close relatives in Delhi, I could have never been allowed to go there to carry on the education.
Q3. What worked as a support to turn your dream into reality?
A3. As soon as I joined IIFT, Delhi, I felt that it was entirely different and diverse platform. It was totally an eye-opener for me. I saw the sewing from a different perspective- as a blend of science and art, you can say.
While studying there, I lived an era of fashion industry. I participated in many shows at state and national level. The fashion show at the world famous Suraj Kund Mela is one of them. Then, a show Banaras’95 was conducted in Paragati maidan, Delhi by the students of IIFT. I have been lucky to be a part of it. It was appreciated throughout India as there was amalgamation of hand loom and modern fashion.
I even choreographed few fashion shows as a student.
Q4. Do you have any hidden skills that the most people don’t generally know about you?
A4. Since my childhood, I am an inquisitive person when it is about art, specifically portraits. I used to sketch out of curiosity. I could easily draw sketch of any person sitting next to me and that has amazed people. If you visit my boutique, I have painted a wall at the entrance. I have also painted my kidos’ room. I just love painting and sketching!
(giggles) I am a good dancer too. Hearing the music tunes, I feel like dancing. It is the art and music that keeps one going in life. As Marc Jacobs, the famous American fashion designer, states,” Let’s do what we love and do a lot of it”.
Q5. What are the achievements you are most proud of?
A5. I have been greeted with love and compassion by people around me. I feel so blessed on that context.
The people and organizations have appreciated my work. I have received token of appreciation through awards at times.
Many times, I have been invited to choreograph or judge the shows. The most honorable achievement is the moment when I was invited to attend “Aradhana Celebrity Samman” organized by Aradhna Sanstha by honorable Mr. Pawan Aagri and Mr. Nirdesh Chaudhary. The term ‘celebrity’ gave a special feeling altogether and it became super special with national fame people around. I was privileged to share the stage with the current national hero- Cricket player Deepti Sharma.
Q6. What challenges did you face in this journey?
A6. I feel that every day is a challenge. And you have to just unlock the problems. Solve them anyway! Neither big challenges nor a piece of cake the journey had been. I just carried on with the circumstances. Also, I feel the challenges make you decisions stronger and just mark your intensity towards your passion.
It is rightly said that Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations are!
Q7. What has been your biggest strength in setting up Shringarika?
A7. My biggest strength, i would say, is myself. It is one’s will power and determination which helps one achieve the set goals. It becomes dual important to keep the fire in you alive if you are a woman. As a woman, I too have ensured the balancing of work and home smooth keeping the comfort of my family as the top priority and hence, my work.
Although, my family has always been supportive to help me fulfill my dreams. I feel fortunate.
Q8. What is the goal for yourself you wish to accomplish in future?
A8. In this journey, I have come across many evens and odds. Even after all the odds, I have kept my dream Shringarika alive. All I wish is to see Shringarika-the heart of Agra to have a place in the heart of the city.
Q9. What message do you wish to give to the youth?
A9. I find it a pity on the fashion industry to have a distracted youth. Interns come to my boutique for the internships. They are in a hush. I observe lack of discipline and contentment among them. They just want to reach the height without stepping onto the ladders one by one. It is disheartening to see them lost and off the track.
My message to the youth of today is to be aggressive workers. They should be focused and work on the roots. Deep rooted success lasts longer.
Q10. As a fashion icon, who is your role model?
A10. The fashion industry in India started booming up in 1980s. The time I opted to fall for fashion industry, it was not considered as a right choice of profession. The success of Satya Paul, Rohit Khosla and Ritu Kumar tempted many to proceed their passion for fashion and take it up as profession.
I cannot pin point on any one fashion designer. Any design which is original and gives a meaning to the fabric is the catch of my eye.
Q11. What is your philosophy of life?
A11. Shilpa, I have never framed any big resolutions or set any particular philosophies in my life. I just take the life as it comes. All I feel is future is the outcome of our actions taken in the present. It is rightly said that “What you sow, so shall you reap.” I am a positive person and I am firm believer of the quote “A stumbling stone for the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist”.
Life has always showered its blessings on me on both fronts- personal and professional. A loving husband and two lovely kids are my energy boosters. Further, my clients keep appreciating and motivating me. It makes me feel overwhelmed when my clients send me their pictures in my designed costumes and ask me to post in ‘happy client’ diary pictures.
Rakhi has shown her excellence in fashion world through many shows : ‘Banaras’95’ at Pragati Maidan, Handloom Expo at Kanpur, Re-incarnation of an Era at Taj Mahotsav, ‘Avran’ in Agra, ‘Amalgamation’, ‘generation Next’, ‘Festival Of India’, ‘Banarsaotsva-99’, ‘Navpuratan’, and ‘Krishnalaya’; naming a few! Her contribution to Taj India Fashion Week- June 2018 is a memorable fashion show in the heart of many. National level fashion fraternities graced the occasion and appreciated Rakhi’s work. Program was directed by honorable Tarun Rawat ji and he ensured the emblem of beauty of fashion synchronized with the social cause in a perfect platter.
A glimpse of the fashion shows:
It has been amazing experience to be in touch with a lady of mettle who sets her own trends. Rakhi wishes to be remembered as a genuine and creative fashion designer. She simply wants to live in people’s hearts through her work. Being one of the leading designers of Agra, Rakhi doesn’t like to be in a perpetual rat race. As a designer, she opts to choose best ingredients of fabric, perfect hint of embroidery and amazing blend of style and tradition. That’s what can be called a woman’s shringar. As Michael Kors said, “Clothes are like a good meal, a good movie, great piece of music.” Rakhi, an artistic person, loves to work on cuts and silhouettes. Having played with all kinds of fabric like cotton, lycra, silk, denim and jute etc; the Georgette fabric and jute are her favorite fabrics. She is an admirer of royal style embroidery.
My visit to Shringarika Boutique – The home of creativity:
You can reach her fabulous collection on the following media links: