You guys, I’ve been lucky enough to have a chat to the lady behind some of the best greeting cards, magnets, coasters, pins- EVER… you guessed it, it’s The Playful Indian!
So, the first time I had ever seen anything from The Playful Indian was when my cousin found some of her work on Tumblr and decided it was appropriate to buy me a birthday card with a gulab jamun (Indian sweet) on it, because he likes to call me round… like a gulab jamun.
*ROLLS EYES* Anyways…
The first thing I did was go on the same website to see if I could get him back and that’s when I found all these cool (very relatable) items! That day I ordered 6 cards and have been giving one to my cousin every year since (because he’s the only one who’ll appreciate them).
This all happened a good few years ago, never did I think I’d now get a chance to interview the creative lady behind it all…
Dina has always been creative, “drawing has always been in my blood,” as she says. “I remember being really young and getting told off for drawing on the wall in the hallway. I’d sit on the stairs and just doodle.”
Being creative has always played such a huge role in Dina’s life, when at college she was told that it wasn’t feasible to take part in art classes Dina had to speak to the head and explain why it was so important to her.
“I’ve never been good at anything else. Being creative, drawing, making things is what makes me happy and I love it.”
Ok, so let’s get into the nitty gritty- items from T.P.I collection. I was so intrigued as to how Dina thought of such a cool concept, “it started because I left my job and I had nothing else to do but create and modernise the Asian card market, [it] was something I’d thought about for a while.”
“I felt there was a lack of modern Asian cards and gifts! I mean I’d go to shops on Belgrave Road in Leicester and they’d be so old fashioned. Nothing wrong with anyone that likes those, but I wanted to create cards and gifts that people my age would like and actually want to give and get excited about.”
Now, if you’ve seen some of the greeting cards, coasters and various other items available to purchase from T.P.I website, then you’ll know exactly how fun (and relatable) the wording on the items are.
Indian stereotypes are all over social media, so a lot of people know about them, but I wondered just how much Dina was presented with these stereotypes in her personal life, because I know I can be heavily presented with them during the best times…
“I frikking love them! They’re part of my culture, my upbringing and who I am, why should I not love everything about this!? It makes me laugh, cry, cringe and be proud all at the same time. My Mum is from India and my Dad Africa, they both have very traditional values.”
Dina told me about some experiences that she went through at a younger age when she was “trying to be too western.”
“I hated when my mum did vaghar because it would make me smell of curry when I went to school. I was embarrassed she wore a sari and a red dot on her forehead when she dropped me off at school. I was constantly told off for not learning or wanting to learn how to cook or do anything ‘that a woman should.’ In an area that was mostly white and Muslim people, I just wanted to fit it in, but I didn’t.”
“It wasn’t until I moved to Leicestershire where it’s mostly Indians that I figured it’s OK to be Indian, it’s kinda OK to go to college or uni smelling of vaghar because everyone eats curry and yeah it smells but it tastes so good! I learnt to cook too, finally and I was no longer embarrassed of who I was or my culture.”
“After University, I felt like I became who I was supposed to. I fully accepted who I was, where I came from as well as my parents and my Indian culture. It’s ok to not fit in because we’re all different and that’s a good thing.” And she’s damn right!
You should never be ashamed of who you are or where you come from!
So, Dina runs her business single-handedly. Yes, you heard!
As you can imagine, she works very hard making T.P.I, the best it can be, so it’s super annoying when people try to rip-off her designs. “It breaks my heart. I’m only a small business, I work my ass off to create an illustration that will work. It’s my livelihood.”
“It’s totally disheartening and disrespectful when you see your work shared with no credit or people are making money of your designs- can you tell it makes me mad? But seriously, it’s just not fair.”
Now, on a lighter note and to bring our chat to an end I asked Dina a question that I love to ask everyone that I interview, where do you see yourself 5 years from now? It’s always fun hearing the answer to this question and then watching people hit all of their goals…
“Ah 5 years from now, preferably having quit my day job and doing this full time. One day, I’d love to have my own little shop too. Just something small and help promote other Asian artists who are trying to do something different.”
So, there you have it guys!
Make sure you shop all of your greeting card, coaster, pin, magnet, sticker, tote bag, keyring and printable needs (which are not just for Indian’s) on ThePlayfulIndian.com now.
Follow The Playful Indian on social media for regular updates/sales/new products too!
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“Go with your heart – then listen to your head. I strongly believe that if you’re passionate about something, you can make it work so. You’ll put all your hard work, love, soul, effort, time, money, thought and basically everything you have into it and that’s so much better than mass produced stuff!”
“Then, you think practically about HOW you get it out there in terms of opening a shop, social media, and getting your stuff out there. As they say, do what you love ad you’ll never work a day in your life – practically it’s a lot of hard work but well worth it.”