Meet the Maker: Tilotama Sanjay Bhandarkar – Athena Shokunin

Founded by Tilotama Sanjay Bhandarkar and her mother Sandhya Sanjay Bhandarkar, Athena Shokunin creates a wide and eclectic range of sustainable handmade products that spread happiness. Get to know them better.

Founded by Tilotama Sanjay Bhandarkar and her mother Sandhya Sanjay Bhandarkar, Athena Lifestyle creates a wide and eclectic range of sustainable handmade products that spread happiness. They are located in Nashik, Maharashtra. We asked Tilotama to tell us a little about Athena Shokunin. She was kind enough to do so. It makes for fascinating reading. You are invited to join the conversation and get to know Athena Shokunin better. Welcome.


Founder – Tilotama Sanjay Bhandarkar

What were you doing before you started doing this?

I was working as an international business development executive for a year for a market research company named Markets and Markets, Pune.

Why did you choose to do what you do?

Sitting at a desk staring at the computer screen and following a monotonous pattern everyday would make me think “Is this something I would want to do for the rest of my life?”. And somewhere there was always a voice saying, “You should be working for yourself. Creating something new each day, learning something creative.” Helping others learn something along with me and making their own living. That’s what motivated me to take up on polishing my skills in crafts.

We are fascinated by names. What’s the story behind your brand name?

My brand goes by the name: ATHENA SHOKUNIN.

I have always been attracted to and curious about the Greek Mythology. I would read articles and books that I could find in the school library and later on the internet. During all this reading I came across one name ‘ATHENA’. One of the twelve Olympians. Athena is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. And I always would be motivated with the stories that I read.

If you look around today in a crowd of 100 you would find at least 3 people wearing dresses that have similar patterns, you walk into three different gift shops and you will find the same gifts. Wouldn’t it make you feel nice to own a piece of work that has been made by someone with passion, care and love? There are people who want to buy the perfect product. Does a machine-made product really make you feel proud? In this age of mass-production, I want to proudly say that I am an artisan and hence the name SHOKUNIN – the Japanese term for artisan.


Which are your best – selling products?

Some of our best-selling products are Candy Jar Aroma Candles, Twinkly aroma Candles, Pillar Candles, Homemade Soaps, Homemade Body butters and Jute Coasters and Placemats, Kokos Aroma Candles, Dream Catchers, and Hand Crocheted Floor rugs. There are other products that sell well, too.

What kind of people do you create your products for?

There is no particular type. People who are aware and understand the value of sustainable alternatives, and are ready to accept them are the kinds of people who would be interested in what we are offering.


What are the challenges you face in connection with achieving your goals?

A major challenge is making people understand that it’s high time we start using products that are sustainable. The environmental hazards that have been caused by human actions can be controlled, but we have to start it from our homes, with ourselves. Choosing products that are priced low (such a plastic and similar non-degradable) is convenient for us right now, but in the long run it’s going to be difficult for us and the generations to come.

For example, there may well be 100 alternatives to a picking up a soap, but do we really make sure that the soap we use is made from natural materials that would give our skin the cleansing and essential oils it needs?

Where do you see your brand three years from now?

I look forward to seeing my brand as the one creating awareness about sustainable living as well as the one to provide employment to at least 10 women.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?

I would be working as a business developer and travelling to various places to learn some rural crafts.

Visit the Athena Shokunin on Engrave.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.


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