Not so recently, three friends with stars in their eyes and dreams held close to their hearts got together. They hoped to give the city a dose of modern, quirky and thoughtful products that reflect the pulse of changing times. A little while later ‘Whishbox’ was born…
Yash Ghelani, Vinay Gada and Chandresh Gujar have much in common. Young and ambitious, the founders of ‘Whishbox’ wish to make an indelible mark on the way people interact with small products that find a place in their lives. A unique sense of aesthetics binds them all, and they are set to share it with the world.
Their store, a spunky and striking 450 square feet space, is quite conspicuous in the narrow by-lanes of Lower Parel in Mumbai, enveloped by rising towers from all sides. A cheery yellow door beckons passersby to enter, as does a big banner that asks people to come in and have a conversation.
“We wanted people to first come and visit us, and understand where we come from,” explains Ghelani. “Our logic for this location is quite simple. People from all over Mumbai come and work here as there are big commercial and residential complexes in the precinct. This leads to many walk-ins,” explains Gada.
Just as you enter, there is a ‘summary wall’ with boxed wooden shelving, that has at least one ‘specimen’ of all the product-types stocked in the store. Hence the name! Two gallery walls showcase framed posters adhering to themes of travel and motivation. “The frames are in-house products and are for sale. But while on the wall, they add to the ambience. The framed pictures are a result of a collaboration with three popular Instagrammers,” states Gada.
The founders were extremely cost conscious while doing up the store. They scouted the flea market Chor Bazaar and ended up with true gems such as the beautiful cabinet for storing barware (which they painted in white and blue) and some statement making chandeliers and light fixtures that add a dash of elegance to the peppy décor.
“The space used to be a café earlier. We pulled down the wall dividing the dining area and kitchen. As a result, the store looks spacious and there are two distinct areas – one with wooden flooring (which used to be the former dining area) and the other with raw cement flooring (belonging to the kitchen). Both offset each other and the entire look flows harmoniously, without any additional expenditure,” says Ghelani.
Many products are displayed in wooden boxes, a nod to the distant past when fruits used to be sold in these. The founders forayed into Crawford Market and found an artisan who custom-made the boxes in Deodar wood.
To maintain congruity, the laminate used on the tables in the store matches the texture and colour of these boxes. The walls are lined with complementing wooden shelves, all designed to look different by playing on the sizes of the shelf length.
In its earlier avatar, a pillar-beam cutting the space right in the middle, used to be an eyesore. Now, it is an attractive showcase for colourful shoes! It has been painted black with wooden shelves affixed on it.
The products are a curated mix of accessories and clothing, most of which are sourced from independent stand-alone artists and established brands having a unique design philosophy. With the collection of frames, the trio have also forayed into in-house products.
The mix of products recalls talents from varied parts of the country. Some items to look out for are the gear and flip clocks, bottles, trunks, candle stands, matchbox art, handmade lanterns, a well-curated barware collection and a host of quirky home accessories.
Right now, the trio are enjoying the interest their store is garnering. “There is a long way to go! We plan to open up more branches, once people know us better. We are also thinking about hosting events in this space,” they say. May their ‘whish’ come true!
Text By Dhanishta Shah
Photographs Neel Ghelani