Friday, January 29, 2010

Isaac Bonan

When I came across Isaac Bonan's work, I instantly fell in love with his style of illustrations. The fluidity, the colors, the strokes of loose ends - all make for a very pleasing effect. But, who is Isaac Bonan, you may ask. Fair question, I reply.
Isaac is an up-and-coming freelance illustrator from Strasbourg, and only 24 years old. He does fashion and art illustrations, by hand using gouache and acrylic paint as well as color crayons and sharpies. Influenced by artistic movements such as Lyrical Abstraction, his works attempt to combine reality and fantasy, precision and expressivity, figuration and abstraction.  And below images speak of this very style that make me swoon...enjoy!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just saying that...

....I love writing with a blue ink pen
....I am scared of dark narrow alleys
....I sing like Kelly Clarkson  *ahem*...when I am cooking or cleaning
....I enjoy cartoon shows on Saturday mornings just as I enjoy Meet The Press on Sunday mornings
....I think Simon Baker is super hot
....I secretly dream of owning every piece of Hermes chinaware (and oh yes, their handbags and shoes and scarves too...)
....I love love
....I get turned off by bo, stupidity, and stupid politics by people with bo..heeehee
....I push myself to be a better person everyday
....I believe


{pic by awesome Ansel Adams}

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Banno Raani value proposition

Why should businesses exist? What should be the key word in their mission statement? What would make one set-up better than the other?
These are some of the questions that I always ponder over in order to justify what I am offering with Banno Raani. Questions like, Why should someone buy earrings from Banno Raani and not from any other vendor or jewelry house? What does Banno Raani offer that others' cannot offer at a better price? 
Well, I've been a reading a lot of business books (you know I breathe books - don't you?) in trying to understand the core of business, marketing and economy. And, I am more than willing to share this knowledge with you.
So, to answer the question - why Banno Raani, here's why:

  • We provide value - we understand the hardwork behind every dollar you earn and want to make sure it goes into something that will make you happy, make you feel good and most of all make you feel pretty!
  • We provide luxe experience - right from the display trays sparkling with Banno Raani goodies that take your breath away to the shopping bag with the Banno Raani goodies that you walk away with, we work hard to give you a fabulous buying experience (I am sure our current clients would agree with everything from our presentation to packaging)
  • We differentiate on our products - we offer only unique and elegant styles that fit your trendy lifestyle
  • We care about how you feel when you pick up that Meena Panna earring or when you try on our Mughal Charm masterpiece and shriek in delight. Yes, we sprinkle love over everything we do and sell
Hoping this declaration of our goals was helpful - and I am very comfortable  sharing such knowledge with all of you, if it helps in any capacity. So, next time someone asks you why they should do business with your or why pick your firm over another, well make sure you can tell them exactly why with one magic word - value!

And in the spirit of sharing, here's a look at one of our earrings that will make you go "oooh, now I want that" : )


Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy and Gorgeous

Just how adorable is this room? The crystal hanging lights, the mismatched furniture, the rug, the bouquet, the casual throw - all make for a happy happy pic :)

And, just how gorgeous and subtle is this room? The set up flows beautifully through all the furniture, and the wall color makes the overall vibe so soft and cozy.

Really, pics like these make me love Mondays so much more!

{image courtesy: and marieclaire)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How to ask the right questions and promote business

Ok, this is not a "10 steps to a smart business" or "7 ways you can earn more" type of high pitch article. And, no I am not selling you anything. Just yet.

When I last mentioned Oleg Mahkov, I didn't even know that I would ever get to speak to him. But, within a few days, I found myself talking to him for an hour discussing tools for better business promotion, how to make a positive difference in life and pretty much everything about the concept of "maximization". Our conversation opened new doors of perspectives for me and I am truly thankful to him for that enlightenment.
As you know, Banno Raani is a brand new experience for Shikha and I. Well, almost brand new. With the type of busy lives that we lead, we also need to stay committed to the growth and expansion of the boutique. While we are constantly looking for avenues and ways to promote, we only know so much. So, when I read about "free consultation" on Oleg's website, I immediately knew what I had to do next - Ask for the opportunity to be considered for the free consultation - and, that's exactly what I did. I then got a response back from him saying that I had snagged one of the five limited seats he had - and my day was made! We decided on a time and date to discuss the questions/challenges I was facing, and I knew things would never be the same again.

So, now that I am a richer person (ok, ok, intellectually only - but, so what) I would like to share with you some of the ways Oleg helped in tackling the issues and the suggestions he offered. So, if you already have a business and want to break the mold or are thinking about setting up a business and want to know more or are simply in the same boat as as me, then read on:
{Oh, and some of these can be applied to life in general -- I mean who doesn't have issues, right?}


 - The first step is to know what is that you are looking to gain out of your business. Is it profit, breaking even,  having more clients, having a web presence, etc. Not all can be gained at the same time because prioritizing is important. Therefore, truly understand what is your "immediate" must have and then accept that as your priority # 1; number them consequently until you know the order of your wish list. It may sound all cumbersome and boring, but trust me it is simple and important. Best way to get this list is by having a discussion with someone you can talk business with or simply can trust. Sit down with them and just have a debate. Chances are talking with them will allow you to truly have an "out of mind" type of experience and you will be able to look at your objective from a new angle - the perfect new angle :)
 - Once you know your priority # 1, figure out what's delaying you from getting there. What can you do differently to attain that? Example: For Banno Raani, having a social network and more presence is priority # 1 and what is holding Shikha and I back are our busy daily (yes, rather very social) lives. We just cannot shirk our normal workloads and family get-togethers to focus on growing Banno Raani. Not good. So, now, we will dedicate atleast one hour a week (hope to keep increasing that gradually) at PR and publicity efforts. We will find new avenues and forums to spread the word on Banno Raani

And, this is how you isolate the real issues from not so real or not so critical ones. Trust me, having an understanding of your priorities and your shortcomings will definitely make it very easy for you to work on them and eventually produce warm and fuzzy results. Always know that not everything can be a priority or else you will feel overwhelmed and will find it hard to focus on all of them - and you know what happens when you get a feeling like that, don't you?

Hope this little article helpful. Conversation with Oleg truly helped me, and if you want to talk to him as well, by all means reach out to him via his website or just click on his name above!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Portraits of a matador

When I saw this picture of a matador's costume, I was struck by the richness of color, work and details. It reminded me of the zardozi embroidery that we usually see on lehengas or sherwanis. Inspite of the similarities, I just loved the uniquness of the outfit. I also fell in love with these portraits of the matadors - the execution, the angles, the light of each picture is sooo divine {I wish to be this good a photographer one day}. You can actually feel the struggle and pain they have to endure - its almost you can read their thoughts through the pictures. Enjoy!

{all images courtesy:}

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today, the sky was clear and a brilliant shade of blue. And, as I looked up to admire the extravagant strokes of nature, a glistening half moon popped in my view and made the experience all the more fulfilling.

{ok, its  not a half moon, but you get the point!}

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Insane juxtaposition of fabric, paper, color and fonts

I don't know why, but I was browsin' & surfin' online for good, delicate stationary and then suddenly ended up trodding down the path of invitations. Well, nobody quite does invitations like we desis do, right?
I was so excited to scope some really cool wedding and non-wedding invitations that I actually noticed my little grins become huge smiles when I saw the insane juxtaposition of fabric (yes, fabrics are used a lot for invitations), paper, colors and fonts.

Umm, not that its important or relevant, but thought I would just share. You know, I didn't even get a chance to print invitations for my wedding. Yes, its true. The whole thing happened so quick that I didn't even get time to print the invitation card I used to day dream about. But, its all pain, darlings :) I guess that's why I am always on the look out for good invitations :)

Ok, moving on, I present to thee an invitation selection you'll enjoy:

How insanely cute is this yellow. The Om in the center can be replaced with anything

I love the deepness and richness of the color and the embossed 'palki' image in the center - truly elegant

2 very different takes on paisley - both of them very regal

Love the embossed paper on the above 2 cards - how unique!

The above 2 are lovely, elegant and truly one of a kind - good for invitations from the groom side!

Love em'! For more, you can visit!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Awesomness part trois

Read an awesome article by Oleg Mohokov (here) that totally rocked  my world today, so just sharing a a powerful snippet of the entire article:

"..And you no longer seek anything outside of yourself. You are internally validated."
To read what precedes these amazing lines, just click on the link above and do yourself a favor! :)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Fashion philosophy that was Ritu Kumar...

Ever since I reached a "fashion conscious" age, Ritu Kumar fascinated me. I remember when I was 11 years old, and the cable was new and cool in India - I was addicted to this lifestyle show called Khoobsurat (meaning beautiful) on Zee Network. It gave beauty and health tips and my favorite - fashion forecast. One designer that definitely caught my fancy was Ritu Kumar. Her luscious lehengas, sensous saris and killer kurtas all had me floored, and the colors and workmanship she used - left my eyes popped up like a cartoon in front of the TV. I was only 11, but I had fallen in love with the fashion philosophy that was Ritu Kumar - and dreamt of wearing her for my wedding day (alas, that didn't happen due to a timing issue - but, that's another story - a long one at that).

Even today, I am more a fine silk, tussar (raw/wild silk) and cotton type of girl than chiffons and gerogettes - Throw me kanjeevarams and banarsi jamawar for traditional Indian wear any day darlings! And, in this spirit of celebrating my passion for fashion artwork, I would like to share some lovely images from Ritu Kumar's ensemble (salwar kameez only), who according to me is the super Goddess of retaining the art of ethnic Indian weaving, embroidery, and rich color explosions.

A black and orange suit with uneven hem kurti - perfect for a semi-formal event like dinners, birthday parties  

Silk zari suit with moti hand embrdoidery - good for formal to semi-formal events

Kota & dupion suit with all over kota duppata - good for casual events like lunches or house-warming day party

A full sleeve brocade choga (outfit) with antique zari embroidery - good for semi formal to formal events

Beautiful pink kota suit - perfect for semi formal to formal events like baby shower, wedding dinner

Ritu's work always reminds me of glorious and rich days of Maharaja's and Maharanis, when beauty was authentic and so was their pehnawaa (or dresses). She always seems to put me in a good mood - and, as I prepare to go to bed, I look forward to these yummy outfits in my dreams!


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Saw Avatar - and was blown away. Don't think I need to say more :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy place and Slash: Paper under Knife

For the past few days, I haven't been feeling all 100%. I wish I could just fly away to a place where things made more sense, where things were all happy and simple... you know, a place with zero bull shit and zero morons . Yeah, I was that kind of sad,  and mad.  And, as I was sitting in one of the meetings in a conference room - my mind floated above me for some time. The 3 sided windowed room, with a view of the Hudson and downtown NYC to die for, looked like an open gate of freedom. I wanted to get absorbed in all that. And, just as I was contemplating to fly away, I saw a plane in the horizon. Sailing smoothly in the sky amongst the golden clouds, the view almost made me cry with its simple beauty and gave me the confidence I needed. It reminded me that life is indeed good, there is no point in wasting precious moments in dreaming about a happy place. That happy place is here - it is now. Life is indeed that plane flying amidst the gorgeous landscape of nature - it is in the present, it is in the moment.

So, I found my peace. I really did and it made all the difference in my disposition.

And, since I was much calmer today, and the weather a bit warmer, I took advantage of both. Kartik and I went to see this super exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). It was called Slash: Paper under Knife.

Three words: oh - my - creative Gods (ok, make that 4 words)! These artists are from another world - really - a world of their own - I mean it takes thinking outside of the norms to come up with such amazingness they crafted with paper. Yes, paper - a single dimension entity moulded, twisted, cut, folded, piled to form three dimensional beauties. I would definitely recommend that you visit this exhibition atleast once. And, its only until April this year - so don't miss out. Also, saw the brooch collection of Madeline Albright...some 200 odd pieces. Must say, she has a thing for brooches. Not just any brooches - but really cool, blingy and over the top type of hook-ons!So, there's your added bonus on top of fierce paper artistry!

Just some $$ tips about visiting MAD (which I had no idea of before until I planned to see the exhibition). Tues-Sun, the hours are 11 to 6pm, with the exception of Thursday when they are open till 9pm. The charge is $15 per person, but on Thursday, from 6-9, the charge is "pay as you wish". Kartik and I paid $10 for both of us and when we were leaving, we evaluated if we paid the right amount. Yes, we did. For the size and scope of Museum's installation, I feel we paid the correct fees. And, within 45 minutes we had seen all 5 floors of the museum. So, there.

Some images from the exhibition for you: Yes, its all paper/forms of paper

{didn't take my camera with me, thus images via creative blogs}


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Open letter to my lovelies...

Sometimes I am so busy and so lost in my world that I forget to acknowledge and respond to those around me. But, once I snap out of my cocoon, I eventually realize my error and then  I feel really really bad. So, to make up for this shortfall, I am writing an open letter to all whose hello or smile I may have not returned inadvertently. Here goes…

Dear Lovely People,
I don’t intend to ever disrespect you or make you feel as if I did not see you. Well, ofcourse, my not seeing you doesn’t make you invisible, but still. I apologize for coming across rude or weird (depending how you look at it) for not saying my usual “hiii!!!!” (yes, precisely with these many exclamations) and embracing you and your presence. Its just that my synthetic world had me occupied tad more than I would have liked it to. I adore you and it matters to me that you feel loved and respected. Hence, this open admittance of my fault. 

Hope you would have forgiven me by now.

Lots of love, hugs and hii!!!! (for the lost ones)
Shivika J

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pretty Pretty

Came across these pics of an eco-friendly house in India...look how lovely are the tiles on the stairs, and the jaali work on the wall....truly, inspiration is everywhere! Pretty, pretty! :)




{images courtesy}

A few things

A few things:

  • My knees froze today. And, so did my fingers, my cheeks and my nose. Silly me, wore skirt today
  • I'll admit it, my jacket smelt of sabzi aka Indian food today. Realized it when I was stuck with a million people in the train car and I felt sooo embarrassed because I know how awful that is when I smell it on someone else 
  • Saw a woman wearing the same exact winter boots as me - same color, model and everything
  • Had a ho-hum day at work so day dreamed a bit about my career...ooh, it felt good being an MD
  • Sneakly peeked at my fellow passenger's gossip magazine in the train, and read up quite a bit 
  • Caught up reading on Havi's blog - and then felt like life is indeed good and the world a better place..
  • Kept dreaming of choux pastry, which I intend to bake soon...yummm :)
Just a few things on a Monday...


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Aha! Moment and the new personality

Styling is very important. Be it brand styling, product styling or even personal styling. While on my blogging expedition, I recently came across a shoot that seemed to have nailed everything - I mean the model was perfect, the location, the hair, makeup, photography - all colliding to make for an awesomely styled brand image. I couldn't help but share the following images with you because these will definitely blow you away, and will give you that kick to actually get up, open up your closet and dig out that tiered skirt even though its -2F outside :)

And, the Aha! moment of the evening (following up from my previous post):  In addition to sharing with you Banno Raani's awesome collection, personal knick-knacks of my life, and other important stuff (which, I currently do), I will now be leveraging this platform to share with you luxe and unique design, fashion, styling and other pretty things that I come across...hoping these things will make your heart flutter and eyes sparkle with wonder!! And this, my darlings, is the new element to the Banno Raani blog brand...venturing out and bringing to you more that the world of internet, design, fashion has to offer. Ahem, kinda' like taking my personal interests to the next level too :)

Ok, on to the images already...bohemian didn't look this pretty before. Very light and airy, the silhouttes' a lot more slimmer and this classy styling would be perfect for the coming summer (oh, summer, how far are you from now?)...



Hoping you guys are as excited as I am with adding this whole new personality to this blog..if there are any suggestions, etc please feel free to email.


{all images courtesy}

Friday, January 8, 2010

New dimension

I am in the process of adding a new dimension to this blog. I'll be honest - I can't really pinpoint what that perfect dimension is yet, but soon darlings, soon. Am in the middle of sorting out things that I want to do - oh, my god, there is so much I can do - so instead of being all over the place and not being focused, I am taking my time to figure out what will be the perfect fit with this blog. It will be fun and interesting -  that I promise, so let's see where my search takes me!
Wish me luck : )

But, I leave you with this awesome ad from  Tanishq - a jewelry business from the house of the concept!

image via


Earn it and Sparky Firepants

Today, a white Mercedes Benz just whisked in front of me and it caught me off guard - well almost. As soon as I managed to restore my balance, my eyes fell upon the number plate as the car was flying away towards the horizon. It read "EARNS IT" - not "MR SPDY" or "SHOWOFF" but "EARNS IT". I laughed out. Why? Because it reminded me of an awesome blog post that I had read recently which talked about success and the different perceptions of it. Now, I have no excuse but to share this post with you because hey, we all need perspective, right? Sometimes that comes of our own calling, sometimes you have to look for it and sometimes it is just provided to you.

So, I'll start with the excerpt of the post that I had read, you know, just to get your interest and then send you the way of this fabulous fabulous website that's all about realizing your potential, being creative, and dealing with the hum-drums of life - all while saving the earth from one more soul who feels he/she cannot be the best that he/she is meant to be :)

"I once saw a bumper sticker on a new Mercedes that said “This is what success looks like.” My first, purely visceral thought was, Man, I am so getting a Mercedes like that. My second thought was, what kind of dunderhead slaps a cheap bumper sticker on such a fine automobile? So it occurred to me that people spell success very differently from one another. And of course, broadcast it differently, too. Ahem." 
".... First, I don’t even want to say what I made last year. It was low, okay? If I hadn’t started with a hefty savings account, I would have folded in my third month.My revenue for next year (as in what’s in the pipeline) is already more than what I made this year. Already. It’s not even January yet. My revenue goal is significantly higher. See? This is how it works, people. I started with my own capital. I had very few connections. I had no idea what running my own business would be like. I quit my job before I got started. I learned quite a few lessons the hard way. See, if I blog about my six-figure income in two years without having posted this first, people will think it came out of nowhere or it was easy. It didn’t. It wasn’t."

Want to read more? Click and follow SPARKY FIREPANTS

Oh, and while you are there, just hang out on his website a little while longer and be inspired with all the cool topics he talks about. I love it and am now a follower! 

Firepants rocks!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Randomness to the max...

Oh, and some happenings with me today that personify randomness to the max:

  • Opened my food drawer, saw a packet of microwave popcorn and thought of nuking them. Then decided was too tired, and as I was closing the drawer, smelled fresh popcorns being made...weird coz' the kitchen is far far away from my office
  • Noticed a tall huge man in a very "interesting" grey and white wooly hairy long coat while walking towards work in the morning...and hello, saw the same man in his wooly hair long coat while walking towards Path in the evening (trust me, this has never happened before, and I've never seen that man before in the area)
  • In the train, saw a woman with a really nice bag (actually noticed the bag first, and, then the woman) didn't think much after that and got lost in my thoughts. Then when I was taking the elevator to my apartment, the bag appeared again in front of me, along with same woman attached to it...errr I mean the other way around :)

Shape ups

Hmm...have been seeing a lot of women wearing those "tone the legs and thighs like a model without the full blown workout" shoes. Do these things work? Can a pair of mutated leather & rubber replace membership to a gym? Maybe, I guess I would have to try 'em to know 'em :)

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Life is much sweeter that way

I am a total sucker for success stories - they make me happy, they make me cry and they always inspire me. So, the minute I read the headline "After years of struggling, she finds her dream come true" I was floored. I wanted to know more and so I clicked on it and read. I was amazed at what I found out. And, just so you guys know what I am referring to, I am talking about Carmen Herrera, who is the hot selling artist (painter) at the age of 94.

Well, you can click here to read more, but more importantly, you can learn never to give up, and that's exactly what I walked away with when I read this article. 

Although, you really don't have to wait until you are 94 (coz' that's a looong time from now) you can start taking baby steps towards realizing your dreams. Everyone has a passion, be it cooking, designing, crunching numbers and analyzing them in spreadsheets, singing or cutting hair - what matters in life is what you do with that passion, and how you take control of your life. Be honest to your passion and true to yourself, and success will definitely tip toe its way to you - and you will be blown away.

photo courtesy:

Dear Ms. Herrera, thank you for being you, thank you for inspiring me to keep working hard and to stay focused on my dreams. Life is much sweeter that way, and I am sure nobody can prove that better than you. And, oh, how fabulous do you look at 94!!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

A palate that knows...

So, what would you do for a pizza? A thin crust, right-amount of sauce, perfect cheese and various topping pizza? Hmm, how about 2 hours in chilly weather - waiting in a looong line of equally eager 'tasters'?

Well, thats exactly what Kartik and I did when we decided to dine out with our dear friends, Aditi and Vineet, who were visiting from Maryland. The four of us camped out in front of Grimaldi's of Brooklyn, with frozen toes, empty stomachs and lots of perseverance on a cold Friday night just to get a bite of that pizza that everyone talks about. Nestled underneath the Brooklyn bridge, with glimmering Manhattan skyline as the backdrop, Grimaldi's is located on an otherwise quiet street corner. If you ever passed it by in daytime, you would never know that this is a place where tourists from all over the world converge.

At one point, after 45 minutes of freezing, we almost gave up, but something beckoned us to stay. Maybe it was the warm toasty pizza smell dancing its way out of the door that opened and closed as it allowed satisfied customers to leave and hungry ones (waiting in the line) to enter. Dunno. But, we stood there, hoping to be one of those customers walking out satisfied!

The night was dark, and compressed breath smoke was emanating all around as other patrons of the pizza place stood next to us, talking about everything and anything - just to keep their minds busy and off of their now numb limbs. Aditi and I caught up on happenings in our current lives and recalled goofy moments from our past lives in college while Kartik and Vineet chatted about mutual funds and visiting Europe. Although these diversions were good, all of us kept glancing time and again at the number of people still in front of us and kept measuring the inches still away from the entry door- a bridge to the "other side" of gastro heaven.

So, after 2 hours, when the pizza bouncer, who sounded like Robert De Niro and looked like Dancing with Stars judge Len Goodman, let us in, the four of us rejoiced like teenagers who have been let loose in a nightclub. We grabbed our seats and immediately got busy with our order.

We started with antipasto, and ordered 1 large pie with pepperoni, italian sausage and extra basil and one small pie with sun dried tomatoes, oven roasted peppers and mushrooms. Trust me, if you go there and are a group of 4 adults, this order size will fit you perfectly. Ok,  the anitpasto arrived and vanished just as quickly. The pizza arrived next and we devoured like hungry wolves, tearing the slice into bits and pieces and rejoicing  the flavor of the 2 hour wait that went with each bite.

So, how was the pizza?? YUMMYY!!! The minute that beautiful mix of coal oven baked dough, sauce, cheese and meats collided in my mouth - I couldn't believe that it was a pizza I was eating. Both Aditi and I went "wow" together on our first bites, but Kartik and Vineet just chewed in silence, sipping their soda. I guess women are much more dramatic when it comes to expressing! (notice the exclamation?)

By the time we got to the second or even the third slice, the pizza had turned a bit cold and a bit soggy - I reckon this is what happens when your table is in front of the ever revolving door. But, all in all - the dining experience ensured a great time with friends suffering together :) and a palate that knows what a good pizza should taste like. This is what New Year beginnings are made of :)

Grimaldi's of Brooklyn - Definitely recommended - at least once!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Fun Pictures and Happy 2010

What better to start the year with some fun pictures! I am truly blessed to have such a great family and such wonderful friends who make life so colorful and meaningful :) Below are collages from the Christmas party I mentioned before...Kartik and I had a great time hosting these parties, and all the smiles, laughters, jokes are ours to keep forever! When I look back at them, I am humbled with how rich life becomes when you are surrounded by people who you care about and who care about you. Right?

Well, enjoy!

With Family

With Friends



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