Jalebi – What goes around, comes around
Ever wondered what happens to your pencil once you’re done using it? At Renuka Shah’s company Jalebi, it grows into a plant. With her brand of eco-friendly stationery, Shah is making sure there are enough plants growing once you’re done using your notebooks, calendars and pencils.
Shah was an interior designer working for private homes and hotels before she took a sabbatical after her first child was born. A year later she started researching for different start-up ideas and came across seed paper. Not many people were aware that something like this existed and she decided to make it accessible to everyone. This clubbed with her love for eco-friendly products made her launch Jalebi. “Why Jalebi? It’s my favourite sweet, yes. And also, Jalebi is round like Karma; what goes around comes around. You reap what you sow and that’s the crux of the brand,” says Shah.
Unlike the regular paper which is made of wooden pulp, the seed paper is made of textile pulp and hosiery waste. At a certain point during the process seed is added. It has to be done very carefully to ensure that the seeds are not damaged or over- soaked in the pulp. The germination property has to be maintained and the seeds have to be properly layered. “While making hand-made paper there’s a process called calendaring where paper is smoothened. In seed paper we skip that step because the seeds might break,” explains Shah.
The sowing process is simple, keep the seed paper in moist soil. In a couple of days the paper will merge in the soil and seed will start germinating. That’s when you start watering it. Make sure the seeds aren’t directly under the sun. All the seeds have a shelf life of 9-12 months. “In our calendars we use seeds that can be grown round the year. The seeds with longer shelf life are kept towards the end,” says Shah. There are mustard, marigold, tomato, chilly and fennel seeds in the calendar and notebooks.
Last Diwali, Shah introduced an all page plantable notebook. “It was more challenging than the other notebooks because it’s important to maintain the right thickness so that it’s easy to write on the paper without damaging the seeds,” says Shah. These notebooks are currently available for corporate gifting but will soon be a part of their retail range too.
Waterproof notebooks are also part of their current range. Made of stone paper which is an amalgamation of used plastic bottles and mining waste, the paper has a waterproof quality and is heavier than the regular paper. The notebook is eco-friendly and has a cover that’s made of hand-made paper.
The product that interested us the most was the Plantable Pencil with a seed bomb attached to its edge. The pencils are easy to plant, place them tip up in the moist soil. In 2-3 days the seed bomb will detach and merge in the soil. You can take out the pencil and keep using it. “So while you write your story, the seeds will write their own plantable story,” quips Shah.
All of Yogisattva’s business and thank you cards are made through Jalebi and contain wildflower seeds. At any Pop Up we do as a brand, the most fascinating news to all our customers is that our business card can grow into a plant. We absolutely love the look of amazement on their faces. Jalebi products are available at Tappu Ki Dukaan and Caravan Hands in Mumbai, Levitate and Fancy Chilli in Bangalore, and Goli Soda in Chennai.
Written by: Shirin Mehrotra
Edited by: Raveena Taurani
Image Credit: Budhaditya Mukhuty