Today we’re talking to Vaishali Shah, the lovely creative force behind stylish stationery brand Ananya.
This year is the 10th anniversary of this gorgeous brand. So, We took a moment to catch up with Vaishali before the big celebrations begin!
1. You have a creative background in marketing and graphic design with Creative ID. What influenced your decision to set up Ananya, your wedding and events stationery business?
I’m from a British Asian background, and educated in the UK and France. I travelled the world from a young age, and I was always fascinated with each culture that I encountered. I wanted to find a way to bring together the symbolism, patterns and textures of each of these cultures. And do it in a way that was fresh, fashionable, contemporary and exotic.
I’d also noticed a lack of high-end stationery available for Asian and multicultural weddings. Further research confirmed that! There wasn’t really anyone in the UK offering exclusive, bespoke, and contemporary stationery influenced by the East. But there was certainly a demand for it!
Having spotted the gap in the market, I launched Ananya in 2006. Ananya takes its inspiration from diverse cultures to create its stationery. We create beautiful designs for weddings, multicultural weddings and festivals. We also create stationery for other significant ‘milestones’. And, we also design personal, children’s and corporate stationery.
2. Ananya has a specific meaning to it. Can you tell us a little more about that and why you chose the name?
The word Ananya comes from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. It means ‘without equal’ or ‘unparalleled’. That was the inspiration and guiding principle behind my vision to create the brand. The Ananya brand is synonymous with luxurious quality. It’s distinct and unique, and appeals to the modern British taste.
We use the finest materials, hand embellishments and specialist techniques, and interpret designs with a new, modern twist. At Ananya, we are always innovating. We constantly research authentic techniques and represent cultures in a way that we believe is genuine and relevant to today’s world.
3. Your stationery designs are really beautiful and so unusual. Can you tell us a bit more about the design process and what inspires you?
Thank you! I believe inspiration is everywhere if you’re open to it. I often travel to the East and draw on its rich cultures and traditions. Tapestries, fabrics, motifs are fabulous sources of inspiration, as are ancient manuscripts, pottery, tiles, and architecture. There’s so much to be inspired by! I also follow what’s happening in fashion and design to look at what’s currently on trend.
The design process for Ananya designs consists of 5 stages:
Stage 1 is when we establish what we call the criteria of the project. It involves understanding the client’s design requirements, determining timelines and identifying the costs.
Stage 2 is one of the most exciting. We start by looking at design possibilities for the wedding stationery. It also includes presenting the first draft or ’round’ to our client!
Stage 3 is refining the design. At this point we’ll confirm the design direction with our couple. Then, once this is done we’ll continue to edit and refine the design and text.
Stage 4 is the production of the invitation stationery. Our designs become tangible! We co-ordinate with the printers and design proofs can now be made for approval before the final quantity is printed.
Finally, stage 5 is delivery! The entire package is delivered to the couple, and they’re ready to enjoy their wedding invitations and stationery!
Your Grandfather, philanthropist Meghji Pethraj Shah has had a profound influence on your life. In a recent interview with the Jersey Evening Post you talked about giving back and I admired that you said it was ‘in your blood’ and ‘part of your DNA’.
At Scott-Wood Photography we love to work with people who ‘give back’. We’d love to share with our readers and couples a little more about the philanthropic influences on your life if we may.
Your grandfather believed in the principle of ‘Aparigraha’. Can you tell us what that means and how it’s influenced your life?
Aparigraha means ‘non greed’, ‘non possessiveness’ and ‘non attachment’. It’s one of the virtues of Hinduism and Jainism, which is my religion. It provides a guideline for living harmoniously. It’s about having sensitivity with ourselves and the world around us. It’s also about self-restraint. One should take only what’s necessary. It’s about what serves us in the moment, and then letting it go when appropriate. It encourages us to give and share and not take undue advantage of a situation or person. I think it’s a wonderful guideline to live by and be conscious of. Especially in our ‘consumerist’ world.
On a personal level, I’ve always given 10% of my business profits to charity. Another way I contribute is with my time. I’ve been a trustee of the charity ‘Find Your Feet’ for four years. I also did a lot of ‘pro bono work’ for them before I became a trustee. I also donate to other charities close to my heart and, I’ll donate clothes and other items that I no longer have use for to an appropriate charity.
At Scott-Wood Photography couples sometimes donate to their favourite charity instead of receiving gifts. If a bride asked your advice on how they could ‘give back’ what would you say to them?
There are so many charities and so many ways of ‘giving back’. Selecting a charity that has special meaning or significance for them is a good idea. For example, if they have a common interest in saving an endangered species of animal. I’d always say to research the charity that they’d like to donate to. And, it’s important that the one they choose is a registered charity. That way, they can be sure the money they donate will go where it’s supposed to. Finally, I would say ask questions! Once they’re satisfied that it’s the charity that resonates with them, that’s great news!
And finally, just a couple of more questions about your designs:
Do you have an all-time favourite design at Ananya? If so which one is it and why do you love it so much?
I love every invitation because it is unique and special. But I particularly like designing multicultural wedding stationery. From a creative point of view, combining two cultures in stationery is a challenge and a great opportunity. I’m able to take the most meaningful elements from each culture to create a unique design. It will be a design that symbolises the identity and personality of the couple and their heritage.
One of my all-time favourite designs is one we created last year for Sara and Vijay. Sara, the bride has a Polish and Indian heritage. Vijay the groom is Indian and they were married at fabulous Aynhoe Park.
With that in mind, we chose deep purple with gold for an exotic and regal look. It has an intricate detailed pattern that looks like a mandala. It also included the couple’s monogram that we had also designed. The finishing touches? The invites were printed onto a luxury pearlescent card enhanced by crystal embellishments.
Ananya was asked to design the whole suite of stylish stationery, so we were able to run central theme all the way through. So, there were also two special cards created for the readings. One featured words from Mother Teresa. The other featured words from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. These became a keepsake for the people giving the speeches. The best man’s speech we printed as a booklet and this was later given to the couple. Every item we designed was themed and on brand, and it looked utterly stunning!
What one piece of advice you would give to brides choosing their wedding stationery?
It’s so important that a couple’s wedding stationery reflects their personality and style. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in line with the latest trend or not. ‘On trend’ will look out of place if it doesn’t match the couple’s personality. No matter how beautiful it is! As a unique statement, I would always say include elements in the design that are meaningful to them.
Your designs are so original and have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. So, who would you say is your ‘bride’?
Our ‘bride’ is someone who loves quality stylish stationery. She adores beautiful, sophisticated and exclusive designs that reflect her style. She appreciates and wants the personal touch. Our bride will want a designer who’ll get to know her and her requirements. As part of the service she expects frequent discussions and regular updates on progress. Ultimately, she knows that working with Ananya will also give her far more than just a design.
Wow! It’s easy to see why Ananya is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. Vaishali is an amazing designer and entrepreneur. Thank you Vaishali for sharing your vision and inspiration with us at Scott-Wood Photography.
Looking for beautiful Stylish Stationery?
You can get in touch with Vaishali via the website, or drop Vaishali a line at email@example.com or speak to her by calling +44 (0)20 7242 1877
You can also see more beautiful designs on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Photo of Vaishali Shah by Rahul Khona for Asian Wealth Magazine