Meeting someone who shares mutual interests and common passion is a gift! It is a great opportunity to nurture connection and even work together in the long run. Today, we have two friends Zosangliani and Elizabeth Darngawn, founders of “Ngotè” from Mizoram. Both share a common interests in fashion and designing and a strong connection of their Mizo roots. Their venture ‘Ngotè’ is an ode to their homeland and is step towards making Mizo’s art reach masses!
“Ngotè is a studio-based apparel and accessories brand. With sustainability as our chief focus, we aim to reinterpret the hand-loom and handicraft sector in Mizoram. We do this by promoting cultural and artistic expression among Mizo youth and traditional skills of workers in the industry.” Read on to get to know better about Zosangliani and Elizabeth Darngawn and their work!
We had a chat with Zosangliani and Elizabeth Darngawn from Mizoram about their venture, “Studio Ngotè”, how it started and how their roots have played a vital role in it.
Hello! Introduce a little about yourself
We, the Founders of Ngotè, Zosangliani and Elizabeth Darngawn, both live in Aizawl, Mizoram. We are in our late 20’s and are post graduates (Masters in Design) from NIFT, Mumbai. We met during while we were pursuing Fashion Design in INIFD Chandigarh. We shared a very similar outlook in our beliefs, in fashion and design. We spent most of our early years in different states and somehow grew apart from our homeland but our longing for it is what brings us together. After working in industry for a while we realized what we are missing — our home and our roots and all the creative possibilities and opportunities. We came home with no savings and decided to start from scratch. We wanted to make products that reﬂected our roots with the most relevant designs. So we started off with handcrafted jewelry and are hoping to expand to apparel in the near future.
Tell us about your venture “Studio Ngote”. What’s so special about it?
Ngotè is a nickname given to ‘little boy or little girl’ derived from Mizo Language (Lushei dialect). As the name denotes, we focus on the youth of the tribe and the creative future. We believe in perfect harmony of tradition and innovation; we are rooted to our homeland, inspired by endless possibilities.
Ngotè is a studio-based apparel and accessories brand. With sustainability as our chief focus, we aim to reinterpret the handloom – handicraft sector in Mizoram by promoting cultural and artistic expression among Mizo youth and traditional skills of workers in the industry. As we identify ourself as an artisan and designer, we deliver product crafted with our homegrown materials, inspired by our traditions.
Custom design jewelries by Studio Ngotè
Happy Customer wearing Studio Ngotè’s long pearl-detail Earring
How did you come up with the idea and what was the inspiration behind it?
How we came up with the idea of starting as a brand is bit of a long story. It was back in our college days in Mumbai. Whenever we missed home we’d go to a friends place to cook and chat in our language, and will sustain us of our homesickness for a while. It was then that the idea of working at home started. But it was in 2017, Zosangliani was about to graduate and Elizabeth was working in Ahmedabad, we’d talk for hours about our work and projects. Zosangliani, while working on a project on “Innovation in Mizo Jewellery Craft”, realized that Mizo tribal jewelry was mostly traditional and monumental pieces; most of the material used by the tribes earlier was no longer available or accessible to the local makers. As a designer, the feeling of being responsible in reviving the traditional craft was only natural. Meanwhile, I, Elizabeth was working as an Associate Design Researcher in NID, Ahmedabad for a Craft-based project. Working on the craft of different states somehow struck me hard with both guilt and inspiration; guilt feeling for neglecting our own craft and inspired by the great opportunity of rediscovering and recollecting our roots and ways of telling our stories. We both agreed in the fact that Mizo craft is lacking in so many ways – quality, presentation, promotion and relatable designs. What inspires us constantly is the possibility of bringing our identity, our roots and our tradition out to the world and share the creativity of our artisans.
So, we decided to go home and do the only things that we are good at – making designs. We got an offer from Myntra, who wanted to buy Zosangliani’s graduation project. That was the start of our production and ideation as a brand. Though the Myntra deal was a one time project, we continued making designs with no platform to sell. We then start participating in local events and exhibitions. Till date we continue to participate in many exhibitions as possible. Currently we are working from home and since we don’t have a retail outlet, we would deliver to homes when we get orders from Instagram. We are currently saving up to open a studio work space . To say in simple words, we are just in the starting phase of building our brand, we still have a long way to go!
How have your roots and upbringing inﬂuenced your working style?
Our root to us is more of a challenge as we are in the process of learning it. Even so, we are inspired by the little details we experienced and saw while growing up. In terms of work, both of us are hard workers – don’t mind sleepless nights and an empty pocket! If it is our passion we are following, we are taught to give our all or don’t try at all so. As designers we are constantly inspired by the rich untold traditions of our land, the people and ways of life. We saw an opportunity to tell stories through products. We believe ourselves to be a social entrepreneurs in small sense as we deeply empathize with the social conditions of our homeland and the future of the youth. We want to provide space for young talents, who share our beliefs in bringing positive changes through creative assets.
Studio Ngotè’s some of their collection of jewelries
Studio Ngotè’s traditional design pair of earrings
Customer looks dashing on wearing Studio Ngotè’s pair of bold design earrings
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Both of us, as we choose design as professional studies we never thought we’d do what we are doing today. As students, it was an obvious dream to work in a big fashion house or industry and also to own a design label is the ultimate results too. We have the will to ﬁnally give up our dreams as a young designer and take a step of maturity after experiencing that we are not cut out to work under bosses.
Please share with us the biggest challenge that you guys face and what you’ve learnt so far with your venture.
Our biggest challenges till date is that there are some things that we wish to do but don’t have the capacity or workforce for it. Other than that, to communicate the design ideas with artisans has been a difﬁcult task. However, after working for long, we have started to understand each other’s ways of working.
And furthermore, as a start up, our biggest challenges is ﬁnances. We started Ngotè with our pocket money. Though we only are able to start with jewelry as the investments required is low, plus it is what we can start from home. To put it simply, we know that we will be facing challenges in every different situation from designing, production and marketing. Through all the challenges we face till dates, we learned that our passion is the major key in ﬁnding patience to solving and facing each challenges like a champion.
Customized design earrings by Studio Ngotè
A pair of traditional design earrings by Studio Ngotè
Do leave some details about your products and your recent projects.
Currently, we have a range of handcrafted jewellery, mostly of beads, bamboo and cane, and organic seeds (Job,s tears or Coix ses). Since Nov, 2018 – we have made 3 collections so far First is the “PROJECT X”, which is inspired by the traditional bamboo craft. The collection explores the traditional bamboo weaving techniques with a touch of silver elements to enhance the complexity of crafting and also add values to the humble material.
Second is “LORE”, the collection is inspired by the nostalgic elements of our home, the colors of spring as we knew as children and the simplest techniques we learned from our grandmothers. The designs are simple for everyday wear with a little hint of playfulness. Third, we have “COIX”, a celebration of the forest gem and old tales. The collection is of Coix lacryma-jobi also known as Tears of Job which is found abundantly growing in wild. We love this collection in particular because it gave us an immense pleasure when an older lady sees our design and smile saying ‘I know this” or “oh..it reminds me of those days”. For such reasons we would love people to wear a piece of emotions and of course ‘nature’.
Where can we buy your products?
We do not have a store or outlet yet but we sale our products mostly through exhibitions (mainly local for now) and Instagram orders. Our price range starts from Rs. 50/- to Rs. 3000/-. We also provide customized services and let customers choose the material they’d prefer. We have a service of home deliver within Aizawl city and shipping anywhere within India. Also, you can shop at Roots and Leisure Shop by clicking HERE!