From mechanical CAD drawings to wearing their art on their sleeves, this team of five from Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad, have come a long way. Their art startup venture, Hoozinc! completed a year on September 19 and is already a statement among youngsters in the city for their ‘I (Heart) Hyderabad’ merchandise. “We hit up on the idea after a chat on how much we hated the idea of working for someone else — we wanted to be our own bosses. As we were always interested in art, the concept for Hoozinc! was born,” say Chandni Mathur and Nikhil Kapur in unison, both managing partners of
The team behind Hoozinc! is as diverse as the merchandise on offer. While Ankit Sharma brings marketing skills to the table, Urmez Bhote’s quirky designs and abstract art sets the collection apart from the run of the mill kitsch. “At least we don't design T-shirts which say something like ‘Original 1972’. That is not design,” says Urmez. The range of products on offer is a mishmash of coasters, mugs, bumper stickers, T-shirts, canvases and ‘everything under the sun’ as their visiting card proclaims.
The recent addition to the Hoozinc! team, Mukarram Ali Khan, pitches in with the commissioned graffiti and canvas art the group undertakes. “We have so far done five graffiti projects and currently are working on a piece at Bangalore which is an art work for someone’s home. Our initial graffiti works were mostly commissioned by stores, coffee shops and gaming lounges in Hyderabad,” says Nikhil. He adds that the emphasis is on ‘art’ as the theme and he would like to expand the repertoire of Hoozinc! in future. There is a change in the ‘gift-culture’ which has led to a string of orders from corporates. The IT crowd forms a large chunk of online customers as they are too busy to step out to shop, he says.
From an initial bulk order of 500 T-shirts in October 2011, Hoozinc! enjoyed instant recognition with the youth. “We were surprised by the response we received at the ComiCon festival in Bangalore. Though we are just a year old, all of our tees were sold out in three hours flat. In fact, we had visitors who specifically came looking for our stall on the second day of the event through word of mouth publicity,” says Chandni. She adds that the fresh designs attract all age groups. “We keep the price pocket-friendly, mainly for our student buyers, and undertake home delivery. We make decent profits and do not want to hike the costs unless there is an increase in the input costs,”
Despite the conservative pricing, the profits keep rolling in and the company has grown nearly three and half times in a year. “There are people willing to invest in us but we would like to keep it among friends as of now. Once it becomes a bigger brand, we might think of possibilities a few years down the line,” says Ankit. The company plans to open its first store at Bangalore following the success of their three retail outlets in Hyderabad.
The informal work atmosphere fits the bill for enterprise Hoozinc! as working at their own pace is what thrills these youngsters. “Work starts between 10 and 11 in the morning and though the official closing timing is 6 pm, we often end up brainstorming till late into the night. This is the best part about being self-employed,” observes Chandni whose home doubles up as the studio-office of Hoozinc! The team manages to produce around eight designs every week and run them by their friends to judge the reaction to these additions.
What works for the collective is the level of comfort they share. “We understand each others’ temperaments and working styles. This keeps us together,” says Chandni, adding that their taste in art is similar. The pop-art by Hoozinc! draws inspiration from cultural contexts such as The Beatles, Star Wars and Batman. From the ’70s to the Yuvraj canvases, there is something for everyone at Hoozinc!