Devi Chand is the owner of Papermelon, a company that makes eye-catching jewelry and home decor using upcycled newspapers, magazines, storybooks, gift wraps, calendars, and pamphlets.
All of the pieces start with strips of paper that are rolled into beads, coated with a water-resistant sealant, and then sun-dried on Devi’s balcony. Then they are used to create beautiful pieces, such as cascading necklaces, layered earrings, playful clocks, paper flower bouquets, and hanging wall art.
The pieces are utterly unlike anything else you’ll see in a jewelry or home decor store.
While Devi’s husband lends a hand with shipping and her young daughter helps by cutting crinkle fill for packaging and making thank you cards to enclose with each order, the shop’s popularity fills Devi’s days… she does all of the paper rolling herself, as she holds her work to a high standard.
Devi started her venture in 2009. The brand has evolved as an eco-conscious venture by making sustainable choices in product creation and business. She adheres to a zero-waste policy in her studio and uses minimal energy.
Where did the idea for Papermelon come from?
As a young child, I loved making things with paper. I later studied design at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology). I worked for a design firm for 9 months until deciding corporate life wasn’t the best fit.
When I decided to start my business, all I had was an enthusiastic me and a colourful stash of paper, thanks to my design education. During one of my experiments, I made my first paper bead by rolling a paper strip over a tooth pick. I loved how unusual and delicate it looked (also messy!). That was the first of the many many hours I spend making paper beads and perfecting the art. I extensively researched about tools, materials and techniques to maximise the quality and durability of the products.
Papermelon was born in 2009 and I started selling my creations online.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My pre and post Covid work days look very different as my studio is a part of my home and I’m the only care taker for my daughter during the daytime.
Pre-Covid, my daughter used to leave for school at 8 am and got back by 3pm. This time was dedicated for my work and I got to wind up by the evening. We then spend time together and visited places and friends.
Nowadays, with the virtual schooling, things look a lot different. I allot small chunks of work time throughout the day based on her class timings and plan my work accordingly.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I sketch a lot. Whenever I have a new idea, I jot it down in my notebook or I may not remember it again. The design may not immediately translate into a product. One day I may come across a paper that’s just right for the design and I can sense it when it’s a perfect match. Then I go ahead and create the prototype.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited about the sustainable fashion movement and how most brands are taking small steps to move closer to sustainable production and packaging.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My handwritten list of things to do for the month, for the week and for the day. This frees up my mind to focus on what really needs to be done. Also the list helps to prioritise and get tasks done in that order. I also club similar tasks together which improves my productivity. For eg, some days I’m creating and stocking up, while on others I’m hooked to my laptop.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to do it. I’ve always been a perfectionist and this often came in the way of my productivity. I would also like to tell my younger self of how I shouldn’t be scared about trying new things or assuming what works and what doesn’t without trying. There are plenty of resources out there to learn and master new skills that can take your business to greater heights.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Social media is not a great return on investment for your time, newsletter is.
I’ve tried to be active on social media for my business because that’s what everybody does. But this sucks my time and do not give the results I expect. My monthly newsletter, on the other hand, is something I look forward to sending out. It’s personal, fun and I feel like I’m talking to the people who really care about my business.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Consistency in whatever little I do.
I have disciplined myself to fulfil certain goals on a regular basis – the launch of a new collection and a monthly newsletter for example. As a one-woman business, I find it is essential to do as little as possible, as consistently as possible.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The 90/10 Rule. I find this one of the most helpful concepts for life and time management. According to this principle: 10 percent of your activities will account for 90 percent of your results. This has drastically changed the way I set my goals, greatly helped me to reduce overwhelm, and maximise growth.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was overly dependent on an external sales platform for my sales. There was not much I could do when rules and algorithms changed, and I had to watch my sales dwindle. However, I soon started my own website and proactively started generating sales instead of waiting for them to happen.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Website flipping. I love transforming physical spaces with thought and creativity. With the future being digital, I see a lot of potential doing the same with websites.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spend this amount in setting up my balcony garden with some nice compact shelves. I’ve loved gardening as a child, but the space constraint in our city apartment didn’t allow me to do much. Now I get to be a gardener in the evening – so refreshing and soul-fulfilling 🙂
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Keyword Tool – Simple but serves the purpose by providing all the keyword information I need to focus on the right audience.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you’re like me and struggle with procrastination, writer’s block, or self-doubt, this is the book for you.
What is your favorite quote?
“Beauty is everywhere you look, you just have to look.” – Marty Rubin.
- Innovators always aim at reducing the impact of invention on the natural environment.
- Combine is a very powerful tool of innovation. It just takes imagination and persistence to look for answers in unexpected places and combining them.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.