I have been painting since I was little and grew up spending the morning school assemblies in the art room and painting whenever I would get a chance. After my 12th, I landed up at NIFT Delhi and that is where the journey of wanting to paint for a living and be my own boss really began. I love painting and that's the one thing that has stayed constant in the past 26 years. 

I was born on 24th January 1993 in Delhi, was always an above average student in school but never really fond of my school days. In 2010, I passed out of Apeejay, Noida ( I was a PCM with Eco student ) and got into NIFT Delhi and started studying textiles. For once, I felt like this was a place where I could see myself fitting in.  In my 2nd semester, I somehow topped my college with a 9.86 CGPA ( came as an absolute surprise to me okay! ). This was the first time I had ever topped anything and I felt ecstatic. 

The thing with me is that I get addicted to things, and once I got that score, I got addicted to being a topper :P I loved being a 9 pointer, excelling in my assignments and I was genuinely enjoying the courses and the work I was doing. It was like a drug and it gave me the rush. 

I have lost count of the sleepless nights in those 4 years and my college was my entire life. 


In 2014, I graduated from NIFT and decided to not sit for my campus placements. I wanted to spend some time at home and take a short break. 

After a couple of months, I started going for a few job interviews, got a few jobs, started working at some and quit around 4 jobs, all within a month. The truth was, I wasn’t enjoying it and I couldn’t spend another day working for someone else on something that did not have my heart. I can be very impatient and stubborn sometimes.


I wanted to start something that was my own, but having no prior experience, I was absolutely directionless. Finally, I decided to go for a research-based job in the crafts sector where I wasn’t really painting or designing, I was creating training manuals for craftsmen. It was a 9 to 5 job and in the evenings I would come back home and work on some personal projects and I started creating an illustration portfolio for myself. I used to look forward to those evenings and any time I would get for myself. I would work till late at night and wake up early again to go to the office. One day while sitting in the office, I came across Myntra Fashion Incubator. It was a program aimed at providing financial support, mentorship and a launch platform for new brands. 


It seemed like the perfect thing but it was also the last date for apply. I quickly translated whatever I had in my mind into words ( my younger sister really helped me with this haha ), created some product mocks on photoshop and sent out the application in a day. 

My intuition told me it was the thing for me and in a month I got the much-awaited call that I was selected and I had to go to Bangalore for the final selection round with real samples. I had a week to get the printing, stitching everything done. I told my boss about this and that I needed some leaves and rushed from one factory to another to get my samples made. I was working on a range of canvas and leather bags that had my illustrations.


That one week was crazy ( I still don’t know how I had the strength). The first vendor I found spoilt the whole collection and I literally broke down and cried at the factory because I had very little time to get at least 5-6 bags made from scratch and getting this right was very very important for me. I made calls, found another vendor and thankfully it worked out great this time. I told him about the tight timeline and they were kind enough to agree to do this and it worked out just in time( so so grateful to have found them ) Just a day before leaving for Bangalore, I collected my samples and I cannot express how I felt when I first saw them. They were beautiful and I wanted to cry again, but happy cry this time. 


I packed everything and left for Bangalore. The next four days were terrific. I was the youngest out of all 30 people selected and it gave me the chills. Long story short, I got selected and I was literally over the moon. this was in November 2014. January 2015, I moved to Bangalore along with 7 other brands who got selected for the Designers-in-Residence program. What followed was insane learning on how to build a brand, run a business, and I learned so so much. We were a close-knit group, almost like a family and it was undoubtedly the best 1 year of my life so far. I spent the first 5-6 months interacting with incredibly talented people from the industry, learning about their journeys and building and refining a business plan and a brand bible. 

I launched my first ever collection of bags on Myntra in November 2015. The response I got was heartwarming and within two months we were all sold out. 

Soon after, I launched the second collection after which my contract with Myntra ended and I moved back to Delhi around May 2016

Even though I was moving to my city and closer to family and friends, it was a very difficult move. I remember when my best friend dropped me off at the airport, I was trying so hard not to cry. The moment she left, I couldn’t keep it in anymore and started crying and I kept crying throughout the journey, trying to cover my face and eyes with my hair as much as possible. haha. I feel happy, stupid, and nostalgic when I think about it. 


Moving on, I was now in Delhi and it took me a couple of months to get settled back at home. For the first few weeks, I seriously thought I was going into some kind of pf depression because I would miss everything so much and could barely function. It got better with time. I reconnected with old friends, made some new ones and Delhi seemed good again. I started working on the brand, got in touch with certain factories and vendors. I decided to start a website with stationery and I launched www.theinkbucket.in on my birthday, Jan 24, 2017. I took up a studio on rent where I could work and store my inventory but that did not turn out to be a good idea. 

When you launch a website, it takes a while and constant marketing to get traffic to your site. I was spending way too much on rent, nothing on marketing ( I had less than 5000 followers on Instagram at that time ) and there weren’t equal returns and I ended up losing more money than earning. I would do pop-ups and freelance work on the side, that helped but I realized that my model was majorly flawed. I was going through a weird and low phase at that time ( both personally and professionally ) and it felt like everything was falling apart. 


I decided to give up the studio and moved everything to my home because the rent was a massive expense and that decision turned out to be a  pretty good one

.  We live in an apartment and the inventory was a lot to fit in but I think my parents deserve an award for fitting everything in the house, we used every inch of the space we could find and our whole house was filled with my products and there were boxes in almost every cupboard. I was able to save much more and once the mental pressure of paying the rent every month was off, I realized I was able to work better and do more things. That seriously changed a lot. I put a table in one corner of my room and started working from there. I was posting on social media more often, I was creating artworks and working on what I really enjoyed rather than working to pay my rent and it started reflecting in my work. 

After a long time, I was actually enjoying this. I became happier, more peaceful, more energetic and productive and soon I started getting some really good freelance work. Around May 2018, I met Saurabh from Happy Wagon in Bangalore and he spoke about partnering with my brand and working on it together. I was having major trouble handling the brand, freelance work and this seemed like a wonderful plan and we decided to partner on the brand and work together. In June, 2018 I decided to again move to Bangalore and live by myself. I did not want to repeat the mistake I made earlier so I planned my finances well this time. 


Fast forward to this day, I am both humbled and grateful while I write this blog because the dream of having a studio and my one place finally came true and this time. I am not just working but really enjoying what I am doing for most parts and living a life that I used to dream of. 


After multiple turns and twists, it's been slow but a steady growth curve in life and I want to thank every bad decision I made because they led me to where I am today. I wake up each day wanting to be a step ahead a tad bit better than the previous day because I know there is soo much more I want to do and I can’t wait to see how things unfold from here on and probably what I’ll be doing a year from now :D


April 26, 2019 — Vidhi Khandelwal


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