This Chennai-based label is making luxury, eco-friendly journals from bananas

Ikksha's notebooks are handcrafted from banana paper, while its packaging is made out of recycled cardboard with soy ink print.
Journals by Ikksha
Journals by Ikksha

Handcrafted notebooks are certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of bananas. But, Keshsa Vasant certainly has an interesting way of showing her fondness for her favourite fruit. “The idea came to mind after I moved away from my previous venture (Chennai-based sustainable accessory brand Arture) and was exploring new avenues for my creativity. Honestly, I was going through a very restive phase when someone recommended that I try journaling my thoughts,” she offers. It was then, while she was sorting through her collection of over 80 notebooks — looking to find the perfect one to write in — that the idea for a luxury stationery brand struck.

Incorporating her idea to create a line of notebooks along with the principles of sustainability, Keshsa and her partners — Aditi Shah and Yashna Galada — spent most of 2019 on research and finally launched the brand Ikksha in 2020, right before the pandemic. “I settled on banana plant fibre for two reasons. One, the fact that I could take an organic material that had passed its expiration date and convert it into something useful. Second, because the paper it produces is strong, and has a beautiful texture,” says Keshsa, explaining her choice of raw material.


Value additions

• Ikksha’s packaging is made out of recycled cardboard with soy ink print.

• Each notebook comes with a seed pencil that can be grown into a plant.

• All hand tags and notecards are made with seed paper.

• 10 per cent from each sale is donated to the Blue Cross of India — Chennai.

Now, open for orders following the easing of restrictions, the 28-year-old tells us that the lockdown period was quite the opposite of a slowdown for the brand. “All our journals are handcrafted from start to finish and can take up to a month to create.” Breaking down the process for us, we learn that three meters of the banana fabric — used as the book’s cover — takes an entire day to weave. Additionally, the organic dyeing process can only be carried out in North India as it requires a certain type of water,  and takes up to 25 days to complete. “This fabric is then hand block printed and sent back to Chennai where it is finally assembled.”

Available in shades of beige, blue, green and yellow, these A5-sized journals are high on functionality and aren’t just pretty pieces of handcrafted stationery. Equipped with a pouch that is designed into the front cover, these notebooks can double-up as a cardholder, phone pouch or a pencil stand.

Rs 1,700 onwards.

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