Window Covering -Curtains -Part1

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A Conversation with Priti Haksar of MOD Furnishing

I started wanting to write a piece on Window Covering focusing on Curtains. The focus was to present a piece on the more technical aspect of curtains, the material, patterns etc. – in line with the ideology of The White Lotus, presenting pieces of interiors that will further enhance one’s home.
I reached out to one of my favourite people, Mrs. Priti Haksar.
Priti Haksar has been in this business for a long while, never realizing that she has had her store MOD Furnishing ( in the same location ) for the last 45 years! A chat with Priti Haksar left me coming out from that ‘interview’
feeling amazed, exhilarated and in awe. Beyond that colorful sense of her youthfulness and her conviction of holding her own in the current market of ready-made curtains available in stores and online shopping sites, it was Priti Haksar’s, passion for the work she does that truly inspired me in so many ways. That encounter with Priti got me thinking; sometimes it is the personality behind the counter who allows us to have a wonderful journey when we decide to give our homes a makeover – their passion compared to
‘just making a sale’. It was then when I decided that as much as I did start to want to write a piece on Window Covering, I wanted to divert a little, to take a moment to meet those who are passionate about what they do and make their service a journey of sorts for their customers.

Mrs.Haksar, source of inspiration with her favorite cotton samples

How long have you been in this business and what made you decide to open this store?
I started this in 1975 and have always wanted to be independent financially and I never took a penny from my husband. From the beginning, I wanted to do something but I wasn’t qualified to pick up a job. My father was a pioneer in handlooms, a very big exporter. He had so many factories including one in Kashmir which did the Crewel Embroidery (Kashmiri Embroidery). It’s funny, Nirmala, I was his representative in Chennai and was working from my house on a commission and booking orders from
Hotels including Taj, for curtains, upholstery and towels, carrying this huge bag of samples around. While working for commission was okay, I wanted to have something of my own and started a shop in the garage at Demonte colony. This created a lot of discord on the marital front and I didn’t have money to start a shop. With just a few boxes of fabrics, I took this place for rent at 300 Rupees with no deposit from Mr C R Sundaram in 1975. My father was a very principled man, and when I asked him to supply me fabric, he said, ‘Pay for it, and then take It’. I didn’t have the resources.
Then suddenly my father retired and my brother took over. He sent me a lot of fabrics with the understanding, that- there were no timelines for payments, all unsold fabrics could be returned, and pay only for the ones after it was sold.
I was able to take care of my two children`s schooling and got them married and after that I decided to continue as I was having
a lot of fun. This store has kept me so busy and happy.

How have you consistently maintained this unique and warm store and never followed the general sentiment of having a lot of shiny and bright lights and polished surfaces?
I have regular clients, who had told me openly, that they are very comfortable coming here and don’t want to go big stores because they are in awe, they don’t know what to choose, and when they step in it’s like a Family get-together, and I enjoy that too!!

What is your favorite curtain material?
For me it is good cotton, the material breathes and falls very well. And even today, especially Egyptian cotton is considered to be one of my most favourite fabrics and texture. But it didn’t sell very well at that time as it was considered expensive at about Rs.400/- a meter. Linen and muslin are also so beautiful and feels good to the touch, and the colours are fast. I want to reconnect to these fabrics and only stock these exclusive fabrics, but I am just waiting to sell all my existing stock, before I start.

What is your dream for the store ?
My dream for the store is to have only very exclusive items – Unusual material like Banaras, Cutwork and I even want to specialise in
Designing, albeit I am more interested in tailoring, it is unfortunately a lost art!!

So, why aren’t you promoting tailoring, then?
I really want to promote tailoring even though I am going to be a young 83 this October , (laughs…) so whatever I can do to achieve this, I will do it and I will keep trying as long as it gives me happiness , and that I should be excited in doing this job.
Somehow Nirmala, I feel, old age is the best age when you are physically and financially okay and when you have some good help or a support system and when you can live for yourself – you will feel happy and I feel these are my best years..
We are meeting after a long time, you shared so much information and are a role model to us new entrepreneurs! And your thoughts please on the interview?
You are like my daughter and it feels so good, you coming and talking to me. I have known you for past 20 years and you always brought nice people to my store..
Everybody is asking me to retire. Why should I retire?? What is there in Retirement?? As long as I am physically fit, I don’t want to retire.

Priti with her trusted lieutenants

MOD Furnishing is located @
New No.191, Old No.85, TTK Road,
Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018,
Near Ethiraj Thirumana Mahal.

At MOD Furnishing you can find a wide variety of – Curtains, Venetian Blind, Curtain Rod, Roller Blind, Curtain Fabric, Sofa Cushion, Sofa Cover, and much more.

I will be back with Part – 2 of Window Covering…