Where do you go when you want a mug or keychain imprinted with your favourite animated character from Shrek or the Marvel/DC comics? Or a t-shirt belonging to your favourite IPL team just when you’re on your way to Chinnaswamy Stadium for the big match? Why Animation Souk of course! Located in the heart of Bangalore on bustling Church Street, Animation Souk is a quaint little ‘animated movie market,’ if you will, that boasts an array of products from clothes to books to posters to fun little knick-knacks – all inspired from your favourite animated movie characters. The shop also sports antique items such as vinyl record players along with all your favourite record albums from the 80’s and 90’s. Also on display are the creative artworks of some of Bangalore’s most talented, young and budding artists looking for an opportunity to showcase their brilliant work to the world, and Animation Souk is their perfect platform.
The Artisan Behind Animation Souk
Theja Harjani was born with an innate love for the arts. She dabbled in corporate for a bit before deciding to get married, settle down and start a family. Theja was on the brink of motherhood when she realized that she needed a job that wouldn’t keep her away from her baby on the way. Starting something of her own that could give her the work-life balance that she needed so that she could spend as much time with her little cherub was extremely important to Theja.
Also, finally pursuing the three things that she loved the most – arts, animation and music – was beyond appealing to her. It was also Theja’s chance to help promote the unrecognized and upcoming artists of the city and help them exhibit their amazing work. Without a second thought, Theja opened up her very own souk.
My passion has always been the arts and crafts – to open an arts store and sell art products in their most unique form. My shop is also a platform for upcoming artists to showcase their talent.”
And, of course, there was Theja’s fondness for her own personal favourite animated characters that inspired her to open shop namely the lovable, oversized, enthusiastic Kung Fu-fighting panda “Po”, “Donkey” from Shrek, and, of course, the minions from Despicable Me. When you visit Animation Souk, make sure to count the number of stuffed minions inside. After all, the more minions, the merrier, right?
When asked if she always had the entrepreneurship bug in her, Theja replies very matter-of-factly, “Yes, it’s in my blood.” Her father runs his own mattress business as well, so looks like the business genes run in Theja’s family. “I wanted to gain enough corporate experience and pursue my dream eventually.”
As with any new and upcoming business, Animation Souk too faced its own set of challenges, but Theja always kept her spirits high. There were many times when she felt she might have bitten off more than she could chew but her passion for creativity and the arts always kept her motivated and optimistic. She says that one of her toughest challenges was building a customer base who had a good eye for art and creativity.
When asked if her family was always supportive of her, Theja replies, “Yes, though they were a bit apprehensive about ‘art’ at first.” She says that they wanted her to gain more experience from the corporate world, but never for a second doubted her creative abilities and always supported her no matter what. Theja also gives special credit to her loving husband who always stood by her side through thick and thin.
The Road Ahead for The Bold, Animated Entrepreneur
Animation Souk also takes orders for customized gifts to give to your loved ones. You can have anything etched or imprinted on an item of clothing, a mug, a plate, a coaster or just about anything else. Why, you can even customize your entire bar cabinet according to your favourite animated movie character or superhero! The possibilities at Animation Souk are endless and push the limits of your imagination – just like your favourite animated movie!
Theja says, with an air of confidence, that her journey has only just begun. She hopes to open another souk soon. She also wishes to explore her creative genius in various platforms and reach a point of customization for all occasions including anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, art classes, art camps, live art performances – the list goes on.
Her advice to other young and budding entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to think outside the box, just like a very bold Theja? “Don’t let anyone stop you from your dreams; give it your best and be positive. There will be times when you will feel low, but be confident in your talent and don’t give up!” Whether it’s the flick of a magic wand, the rub of a magic lamp or even the magic of a tender kiss, Theja, although might run an animation souk, is living proof that, in the real world, dreams really do come true!