AHOM: Gift Shop Par Excellence


The power to think sets you free…to fly through the cosmic , to a place  without borders, to realise, to reflect and be reborn  in the relentless quest  for the Self- the AHOM. Situated right in the heart of the city  at Ernakulam, is AHOM., a gift shop par excellence.  It is a place where one walks into  and gets  totally  transfixed by its elegant  grandeur  and eye catching display. Small Enterprise India met up with Archana Shankar, to talk in length  to her about her exclusive  shop.

"AHOM’ in Sanskrit means ‘Me’.  I named  my shop  this because  ‘AHOM’ brings out the  different dimensions  of my personality- affirms Archana.  She always aspired to be a designer  right from  her  teen days. After graduating in Mathematics from Maharaja’s college, Ernakulam, she went on to do fashion designing from  JD Institute  in Bangalore.  Her parents wanted her to return to Kochi after her studies. The opportunities  for a designer  was very rare and  few . Archana enrolled  for a brief  internship with  V- Star creations , sister concern of  V-guard but  it was really not her  cup of  tea since  it was  just embroidery  work and she quit.

Madam Institute of home science offered her a teaching post  and it was here, that  she discovered  that she had a  penchant  for teaching. At Madam’s she was entrusted with handling fashion designing course. In her spare time, Archana  dabbled in  designing  silk ties  for  men and hand painted  them based on themes.  She organised an exhibition  at CMS college, Coimbatore and the response to her designer ties was tremendous.

After her brief stint at Madam Institute, she joined as teaching faculty at International Academy of Fashion  in Thrikkakara.  The institute was opened by top notch industrialists and academicians who actually wanted  to open  engineering  colleges but they ended up  starting a design institute. Facilities were state of the art and the campus huge and sprawling.  For four years, Archana worked here. Unfortunately they closed down  since they were  keen on  only an engineering college in the state. Many  who passed out of this institute  are doing extremely well. One of her students works with one of the top notch designers  J.J Wallya, and another did stylings for couple of films.

"Before  the institute closed down.,  I organised  two exhibitions  for my students to show case  their talents  and we called ourselves  the D club"- says Archana.

“I launched myself into  styling for ads, both print  and  film media. I have worked for  Seematti, Kalyan silks,  Pankaj Kasthuri, to name a few”.

 Word  just spread  around  and St. Theresas  college approached  Archana ,  inviting her to  head the  fashion designing  department .  She continued as the head of the department of fashion design   at St Theresas college  for six years.

“Right from when I joined  St Theresas, I have been  mulling over  the thought  of launching  my own signature  shop.  Shankar, my husband   has played a major role in this. He has been very supportive  in all my ventures  through out. I have been   very particular that the  products displayed ought to be  colourful. I am into product design too. I design my  own garment collection at AHOM   and it’s a shop that  promotes the spirit  and essence of India.  When I started out as a designer, I had  no one to  help or guide me  by giving me an opening  to promote my designs.At AHOM, I encourage  young  designers  to bring  in their  unique range of products  and I  provide an avenue  for displaying  and show casing  their unique style and design.”

 The interior of Ahom is done in black and white. The tag of each product is done in yellow.

 “Shankar and I travel the length  and breadth of India  and follow our  gut feeling  when it comes to picking up products”- Archana says.

 A bank  loan was taken  from Punjab  and Sind bank just for  designing  the interiors.  Archana has her own  garment production unit  where she designs  garments , her unique style being  contemporary and casual. Ahom  has accessories  and  bags which are  made out of  fabrics plus soft  cushions, silk  floor pillows, all exclusively  designed by Archana.

"When young designers come to me, I give them  inputs . Anything that is properly packaged  and branded will interest  the  customer. People in Kerala  have very  poor entrepreneurial interest. They do  not   want to  finish  the product,  show case  and sell it. This is  a beautiful opportunity I provide for  fresh designers at AHOM"-Archana  opines.

 "India is vast  and so many things  come in newer  forms.  For instance,  bamboo  or terracotta.  My  mantra is  - change is inevitable.  Source more contemporary and utility based  designs . Utility combined with aesthetics".

AHOM is a place where  one resolves to return to , time and again, not only  for its  exclusivity  but also  for getting truly inspired  by its  energetic  proprietress Archana Shankar.

Archana shankar is available at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 09447301001


Last Updated ( Monday, 12 July 2010 09:31 )