Capturing travel with style

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Capturing travel with style
Anirban and Noon Basu showcasing products from their brand Ryoko at the indoor Ripe Market in Times Square Mall

Published: Tue 6 Dec 2016, 3:53 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Dec 2016, 2:23 PM

Sometimes the best ideas come from our own experiences. With the rise of travel inspired brands, Ryoko is one that has all the romantic associations of exploring the world with all the necessary functionality.

"My wife Noon and I enjoy travelling and casual photography," says one half of husband and wife team and creaters of Ryoko, Anirban Basu, "We were often frustrated with not so functional camera bags and travel accessories, and then we thought - why not design them ourselves?"

One of the most common activities people do while traveling is taking photos. For those who are serious about photography, it can be an issue while exploring new cities, towns, the countryside or the outback to store and travel with a camera. From extra batteries, memory cards and lenses, finding a way to fit them in one case and not looking like you're heading off to a film set is a challenge. Especially if you want to look good.

Minimal, clever, stylish there's nothing we love more than fashionable accessories that actually make our lives easier! We caught up with Anirban to discuss all the work it took for him and his wife Noon to start their own creative brand in Dubai.

What is Ryoko about?
Starting from scratch, we learnt the beauty of the various types of leather, visited tanneries in different countries and learnt the traditional way of craftsmanship from artisans. As the initial months passed our sketches on paper transformed into beautiful leather goods that we could touch and feel. That's how, in early 2015, Ryoko was born in Dubai.

Was it difficult to leave your job to work full time on your brand?
It sounded crazy when I quit my job to work on Ryoko full time almost six months ago, but I knew this is what I really wanted.  With our full focus on Ryoko, it actually means there are no specific working hours and I need to be switched on at all times. No more weekends since we are always busy with weekly pop-up stores both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Other times, it is sending emails and packing deliveries till late hours. Even with all of this, I still can say I have made the right decision.
How would you describe the world of entrepreneurship or starting a small business in Dubai?
Dubai is really interesting right now. Earlier, we would see local distributors partnering with well-established International brands rather than Dubai being a place where people actually 'make' and manufacture. This has started changing in the last few years with many local start-ups finding success here as well as in the International markets giving Dubai and the UAE a stronger sense of identity.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting up their own creative brand or business?
I think the most important thing is to believe in your own instinct. Don't assume what people want unless you want it as well. See if you can sell the idea or product to yourself. There will always be people with similar needs and tastes like you and that will be your target market. Secondly, if you have the idea, start now. There are no excuses to postpone your actions. There will never be "the right time" to do it.
How did you find Dubai Design Week?
One of the latest events that we participated in was at Dubai Design Week, which was attended by people from all over the world and was a brilliant platform for local designers and artisans to showcase their talent. Events like this, I am sure will keep encouraging local talents to take the 'leap of faith' and start something on their own.

What is the best and worst thing about being your own boss?
The best part is definitely the flexibility of how we work. And in a way that connects into the worst thing as well - the lack of structure. This is because everything about Ryoko is mostly done by me and Noon. Sometimes I feel it is very difficult to do everything at the same time.

Where do you get inspiration from?
Often it is the different places we have visited, like quirky cafes, books read or other independent brands like us who are makers and designers. It is also the people we interact with who share their needs and requirements which give direction to our future designs. Most importantly it is my wife who not only believed in this crazy idea but also works with me on Ryoko with her full support.

By Maan Jalal

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