Breaking the clich of monotonous decor in Namma Chennai
Talk about an enthusiastic voice, positive vibes, determination, and a brain that is always on create mode; Ambika Ankit Agarwal, 29, seems to manage all of it and of course her entrepreneurial venture The A-Cube Project! She turned entrepreneur at 25, with A-Cube which is now completing 4 fruitful years in the industry. The brand is synonymous with gorgeous decor and its knack to rope quirk and elegance under one roof.
This January, A-Cube stole a million hearts and became a rage on the internet, with their beautiful, elegant and out of the box decor, at the grand engagement event of the, Original Kerala Jewelers (OKJ) family! The high profile engagement ceremony of Nivya Babu (OKJ group) also the owner of NVY Studio with KK John Kallatt (JK group of hotels, Kannur, Kerala), was celebrated in 7 banquet halls of ITC Grand Chola, with a whooping 1700 guests attending the ceremony.
Team Shopzters were completely smitten ourselves, when the off beat decor pictures first surfaced on the internet. They are the first ones to execute the funky Truck Photo-booth, indoors, in an hotel in Chennai. Here's how Ambika and her team managed to pull off every detail of this decor that has most definitely struck Chennai with its Desi Vintage Vibes!
1. How did you start A-cube and what inspired you to be in the event industry?
I knew from my schooling days in New Delhi, that I was only meant to be in the media industry. I just needed to figure out my core specialization and act on it. The insatiable creative energy within me, could not have been contained in my Biotech Engineering degree from SRM University, Chennai and an IT job later. I knew that!
Later, I married my long time beau and settled in Chennai. It's here, that I found my calling in life and started my entrepreneurial venture in events!
As a person I realized, that I tend to get bored with one kind of work. This field meant- new clients, exciting projects, upbeat themes, evolved creativity, new sourcing each time and building my own brand while doing all of this. This is Stuff I love and was all the inspiration I needed to choose this field!
2. How did you envision the brand positioning when you started?
I knew when I started events I wanted to tap the market of Out of the box- customized work which was missing in Chennai. I envisioned to make A-Cube a 360 degree firm which was equipped to churn out all genres of events with equal style and panache, while sticking to its USP of detailing. In these 4 years, we're proud to have taken the plunge in almost every genre of events. We're an event design company with an obsession for tiny details. It's flattering when our work is used as inspiration by others and even more heartening when someone walks in a venue and recognizes the work as that of A-Cube Project. It's the biggest compliment ever!
3. Could you throw some light on client interaction with OKJ family?
At A-Cube Project, we love breaking decor cliches and have an absolutely strict no-plagiarism policy. It is of utmost importance for us to create a unique event story for each client, cause every client is equally special for us. We have been very fortunate to attract like-minded clients, over the years, who love decor and have an artistic flair themselves. Most of them are on board to experiment with new ideas. This gives us so much more scope to experiment. Which is why working on the OKJ family event was exciting and fun for us. The entire family is creatively inclined and equally gung-ho about gorgeous spaces and off beat concepts. It only made our work easier!(smiles)
4.How did the OKJ family approach you and how did you come up with this unique theme?
Me and Nivya, were only social acquaintances, before. Later, our team happened to do an event for their extended family in September, 2015. It is here, that the OKJ family saw a preview of our work- a kidos 1st birthday party with the theme being Little birdie. We got the event venue only 1 hour before for that function and we managed to pull off a good show, even in that short time frame.
Post which, my lovely clients from that event, Vinu and Maria Thomas, put in a good word for us as well, when they enquired about us. I still remember when the OKJ family finalized us, they said, We are giving this to you, because if you could do that in 1 hour, then we would like to see the magic you could pull off for us, with time in hand. (smiles)
The theme for the OKJ event was - 'The Desi Vintage Bride'. We came up with this theme, because our bride Nivya, is very Desi at heart and vintage in her persona. So this was the most fitting theme for her event!
5. Tell us what elements spruced up the venue for the theme - The Desi Vintage Bride?
Their event had a plethora of fun elements. We went all out! It was a perfect amalgamation of everything vintage and desi. Vintage doors and windows, fairy lights and drapes, A funky truck photo-booth, easel stands with caricatures of the couple on canvas prints, a push cart and vintage window -Selfie corner, pinwheels, origami birds, pom-pom mirror hangings, dry trees, Ferris wheel -Centre pieces, floral runners with Jute Overlays, love ladder, vintage bottles et.al. Really, it's a long list of gorgeous elements! Even for the bride's entry we planned something unique! Instead of the flower bed a.k.a Phoolon Ki Chadar we gave her a beautiful and intricately made canopy of gota, pom poms, origami birds and mirror hangings, which stole everyone's attention.
6. How did you weave the theme?
The OKJ family and us wanted the entire theme to be woven beautifully, in every small element associated with the Engagement. So it started with subtle hints being dropped through the simple yet lovely engagement card, which we designed for them. Faceless caricatures, origami birds and pinwheels along with few of the theme colors; teal, orange, off-white and pink were introduced here, to create a buzz and theme recall later.
On the event day guests were pleased to see an abundance of pin wheels, that they could take back with them and strike a pose with at the photo booths. Also, at the entrance they could connect the dots when they saw the caricature boards with the same design from the card but with face detailing this time.
All in all, it was a well planned event and every small detailing was thought off!
7. For such a meticulously planned event, how many months of prep work went into its planning and how many vendors did you manage?
Ahh! So we spent approximately 2 months in total with all the prep work planning. I always tell my team, that event management, is not just about decor, its more about people management. I had my own core team of 8 people. Along with that I was managing close to 20 vendors for this event. This is apart from handling the clients and satisfying their queries and requests. It is for a reason, they call it one of the most stressful jobs in the world.
8. The Truck pictures have gone viral and gathered a massive response! How did you go about executing and designing it?
If you personally ask me, the element I was most obsessed with throughout the pre-planning of the event, was the truck! The team and us, literally dreamt about it, had sleepless nights over it and what not. From sourcing it, fixing it, getting artistic work done on it, to transporting it several times and most importantly, how to take this enormous thing which weighs 500-600 kgs, inside ITC Grand Chola, was a major challenge. For those of you, who do not know the hotel, this needed to be taken by the lift to the banquets on the 21st floor! In short, it required immense technical expertise and it sucked the life out of us! I remember literally jumping all over, when this beauty finally arrived and somehow made it to the banquets after all the hurdles. Designing wise and color scheme wise, we wanted it to look totally Indian Kitsch, yet vintage! So I went with pop colors and intricately designed artwork, so that it looks like a pimped up, Indian/Pakistani truck with a modern A-Cube twist to it!
9.�Seven�ITC halls opened together, are massive in size, take us through d�cor distribution in the hall spaces?
I agree with you! That space is huge, almost like a carpeted playground! So we had to make sure, everything is distributed well. So the first 3 halls were dedicated to d�cor, stage, seating, photo booths et.al. and following 3 to food and the last hall was purely the party area. The party area had an LED DJ console, a power packed sound system, and cabannas to give a high end bar feel to it!
10. What was the best part of the function for you? If you could share your vision for The A-Cube Project and your advice to budding entrepreneurs in the event industry?
The most special and satisfying aspect for an event designer/planner is client and crowd feedback! The USP of the night for me personally was the moment when my beaming bride Nivya, hugged me ad said �Ambi I love everything, thank you!� All the hard work, sleepless nights over months et.al. became worth it that very instant. All their guests complimented the hosts as well, about the one of a kind d�cor they had seen! They came up to me personally too! It was a very gratifying experience for us, one that will be close to my heart, forever.
My vision for A-Cube is expansion of our employee base at the moment, make a new office and to maintain and up the creativity quotient further.
The only advice I could give budding entrepreneurs is to stay true to yourself, dream big, but take baby steps to achieve it. Don�t let anyone ever tell you, that its impossible! Impossible - should only be a start to great possibilities!