Karishma and Avantika Swali new project highlights inclusivity: Celebrities pledge to stand by MoonRay

Mother-daughter duo Karishma and Avantika Swali create eco-friendly clothes, accessories, and toys, and donate the proceeds from the sales for social causes

Shruti PanditUpdated: Sunday, December 11, 2022, 02:28 PM IST
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“MoonRay is totally my daughter’s idea,” confesses Karishma Swali, the CEO of Chanakya International Pvt. Ltd.

Karishma, daughter of a visionary Vinod Shah, who started Chanakya International in 1996, is a NIFT graduate who went on to intern with Alberta Ferretti and work with quite a few famed fashion houses in Italy.

Despite partnering with popular international labels for embroidery, crochet and fashionable attires, Karishma’s heart remained Indian, and she worked towards the betterment of society, particularly women. This led to the formation of The Chanakya School of Craft, which empowers women to enhance their creativity and earn, along with her sister-in-law, Monica Shah. The school not only trains women in the art of stitching, crochet, embroidery etc., it also helps them get employment. “Some of them are absorbed in Chanakya International itself,” Karishma tells.

It is not a surprise that her daughter Avantika was aware of the disparities in the society at a very young age. Avantika must have been barely eight or nine when she decided to help children in Dharavi with an organization that she formed – All Care for Everyone (ACE).

Moon Children Badge

Moon Children Badge |

“I started the organisation because I wanted to care for everyone…” says Avantika. “I just felt that I was privileged to have so many things, while there were children who didn’t have basic right to education. I was not happy… that’s when my parents suggested I could fund the education of children in slum area of Dharavi. I started with five… today ACE funds the education of 200 children in Dharavi.”

Her sensitivity led Avantika to adopt street dogs, care for them and think about the eco-system around her at large. It was during the lockdown that these thoughts became more predominant, and she spoke to her mother about creating a line of clothes that were environment friendly. “I realized that the clothes I wore everyday… jeans, tshirts etc. were not really helping the planet. That’s when I shared the thought with my mother, who was already in the business of garments.”

Karishma suggested that Avantika come to the office to get a hang of what’s happening and then suggest a way to go about her idea. MoonRay was the outcome. It all started with the doodles that Avantika had done during lockdown. They were used as designs for tshirts and jeans. The fabrics used were organic cotton, rain-fed, raw and naturally dyed denim, and GOTS certified jersey.

That was the time when Avantika lost a dog that she was fostering, whom she had named Ray. “And we wanted a name that symbolized feminine energy… therefore MoonRay,” explains Karishma. “All apparels are environment friendly and created at my mother’s manufacturing unit,” adds Avantika.

“Fifty percent of the profits go to NGOs that work towards inclusivity of children and animals. That’s Avantika’s bottom line. To share her profits with NGOs,” elucidates Karishma. It was this emotion of inclusivity that prompted Avantika to work with Jai Vakeel, an organisation that works for inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities in the society.

Avantika created Moon Children — special characters that symbolized inclusion — in form of soft toys, key chains, etc. These were launched recently on the occasion of the World Disability Day. Avantika gave each character a story in form of a comic strip (one of which, Norah the Cat, is carried above). “Her scribbles have become a story board now. And many have come forward to buy these characters in varied forms. The earnings go to Jai Vakeel Foundation,” says Karishma.

Many celebrities like Neetu Kapoor have taken the pledge to be inclusive and bought the hamper with Moon Children designed by Avantika and created by women of Chanakya School of Craft.

While Avantika is busy learning the ropes of business in the spare time that she has from her ninth-grade studies, Karishma is busy restoring the old art of embriodery, tapestry, crochet and restoring old fashions. She has a room in her Byculla office that has antique and unique dresses, crochet items, etc. that she has restored. “They also inspire us to create designs for international labels,” she admits.

The mother-daughter duo promises to add more to the eco-friendly collection of MoonRay that already has jeans, party dresses, tshirts, and accessories in its portfolio.

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