We had the good fortune of connecting with Sneha Gorijala and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sneha, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I was born and raised in India and now the USA has become my home, where my husband and I are raising a family of our own. As much as we love it here, like any other expatriate, the longing and passion to celebrate our culture and traditions has always been within us. Growing up, we celebrated Indian festivals and events with great fervor and relevant décor had always been a huge part of any celebration. I fondly remember stringing fresh flowers for the entrance of our home as a welcome garland during the festive season. Now, the name of my company ‘thoranam’ literally means ‘welcome hanging’ in sanskrit, which sounds like a sweet coincidence. While Indian décor is dreamy enough, finding the same authentic artifacts in the USA was extremely difficult. Of course, there are vendors who cater to Indian décor needs, but the pipe and drape decor is not the one we grew up knowing. I was tired of looking at plastic flowers and mass produced art pieces. Out of desperation and passion for Indian décor made of natural materials, I signed up for an extensive training session on how to create setups using sola flowers which are flowers made of wood shavings . I fell in love with everything about sola flowers, their texture, the making process and working with them was beyond therapeutic. They were a perfect fit for creating very real and lively looking backdrops. Sola flower making in itself is an age-old traditional craft and the décor is now creating more patronage for skilled artisans back home. The best part is that the décor is 100 percent ecofriendly. Like really! No use of plastic/ Styrofoam or anything that ends up in a landfill. We all know that climate change is real and I strongly believe that being eco conscious is the way forward. So, it really felt like this was my calling. In 2020, I started Thoranam decors.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Out of desperation and passion for Indian décor made of natural materials, I signed up for an extensive training session on how to create setups using sola wood flowers and fresh flowers. I love working with these flowers, making garlands and arranging them in different pots and vases is very therapeutic. They were a perfect fit for creating very real and lively looking backdrops. Designing backdrops using these natural materials for different occasions is quite challangeingat the same time very exciting and fun.
Starting the business taught me a lot about perseverance and about not giving up. Though I learned the skill, procuring materials (not native to the USA) had always been an uphill battle. Damaged materials during transit, sub-par quality raw materials and I even had instances when Items were stuck in the US customs for months. However, if you ask me if it is worth it? I would say it is 100% worth it. The entire decor designing is almost therapeutic and has now become a part of my identity.
The first ever gig I received was for a traditional 1st birthday event. The client reached out to me during the peak of the pandemic for their intimate event. Through all the challenges, the event and décor turned out great and it gave me a huge confidence boost.
The demand for thoranam has been steady with lots of love and encouragement from the clients. Most of them who approach me are the ones who highly appreciate the artistic value and love the old world charm of the Indian décor setting. I am just beyond grateful that my décor is able to bring back memories of their homeland even if it is just for a few hours. I am also excited that I get to show the majesty of Indian heritage to the next generation youth here in the USA.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love nature preserves, hiking, shopping and also a foodie. Prairie Creek Waterfalls
Ofcouse home sweet home and home made food
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
FIrst and foremost, my husband. He encouraged/guided me every step of the way. He even became my handyman, helped me build different backdrop structures. Then my two daughters of 13 and 5 who are very independent and smart also helps me in arts and crafts as needed. My parents were there to help and encourage me mentally and emotionally. They also helped me in procuring the materials/artifacts from India.
Last but not least my mentor, adviser and coach Kalpana Rajesh, founder of Decor by Krishna. Her concept of eco-friendly decor really intrigued me and was surprised by the design concepts. I signed up for a training session from her and now I am really confident in all the eco-friendly concepts.