Sulekha has always tread on the road less travelled, off the beaten track as it were. Thus, when Sulekha invited a few dedicated fountain pen and ink lovers – young men and women – from around Kolkata to launch its latest line of inks aptly called “Swadhin” (free, as in independent) it wasn’t much of a surprise.
Said Kaushik Maitra, the Managing Director who is breathing a fresh lease of life into the legacy brand, “it had been a long time since the Sulekha lovers had been requesting me to arrange a visit to the factory so that they could see their favourite inks being made first hand and I seized the opportunity to honour their wish. Besides, who can be better suited than the fountain pen and ink lovers to launch the new products that we had lined up?”
And launch Sulekha did. The first was a brand-new range of inks named Swadhin. These inks, in four popular shades, have been specially made for the students and will be offered at an invitational price of Rs 100 for a 60 ml bottle. The pricing is to honour a commitment made by the founding fathers of Sulekha to Mahatma Gandhi who had asked the Swadeshi ink maker to ensure the perennial supply of this invaluable educational aid to the students at the least possible price.
“The ink shades have been chosen deliberately, which we have also mentioned in the packaging itself, as we want to create consciousness about sustainability through them” said Maitra. “The range will traverse the gamut from Carbon Footprint (Black) and Global Warming (Red) to Clean Energy (Blue) and Sustainability (Green). It is a journey from darkness to light, from the bad to good, from subjugation to being Swadhin. This freedom, not only celebrates the freedom of the motherland for which our forefathers fought, but also hopes to inculcate the same spirit among our young: to fight for the freedom of the environment, the freedom of Mother Earth, from the yoke of climate change and global warming”.
The words don’t ring on the ears as pompous when one considers the fact that the Sulekha factory, where the inks are produced is 100 % energy neural – it generates all the power it consumes in the form of solar energy. Sulekha is also an equal opportunity employer and the inks themselves are made from natural dyes, thus posing the minimum possible threat of climatic degradation. Produced, strictly following the age-old method of triple filtration, as opposed to cheaper (and faster) mechanical processes, these hand-made inks are indeed a perfect companion, a comrade even, to fountain pens.
There is more. As part of a Sulekha initiative to encourage young artists, the Swadhin packaging has been created by Karishma Siddique Roy in her trademark pen-and-ink style, who has brilliantly interpreted the feeling of being “Swadhin” and the sacrifice it entails, through her work. “It was an honour to have my work featured by Sulekha and I must thank them for giving me the opportunity” said Karishma, unveiling the Swadhin line, visibly moved by the adulation from the ink lovers who were present. “I must also take the opportunity of thanking Sulekha for addressing another crying need of fountain pen and ink lovers who were challenged by the unavailability of quality inks at a decent price. I am sure that the Swadhin range will help us overcome this void” she gushed.
Sulekha also launched the first in its Saraswati (Saraswati is the Goddess of learning) range of fountain pens, which were given to the assembled aficionados to test. “We will, over time, come out with fountain pens targeting users in all the segments. However, to meet the immediate demand, we have decided to first launch the pens that will typically be used by the student community” said Kaushik Maitra. Naturally, these pens are priced extremely competitively, are robust in built, come with converters, are simple in design and sport nibs made by one of the most revered nib brands in India. “You are the ultimate end users of Sulekha products and we are indeed fortunate to have you all here with us. We want you to test the products, tell us how best we can serve your needs so that together, we can rescript the Sulekha story, for the fountain pen and inks are as much our consuming passion as they are yours” said Maitra.
To commemorate “Hathe Khori” – a ceremony where children are first made to write as a process of initiation into a life long journey of learning and is held typically on the auspicious day of Saraswati Puja in Bengal; Sulekha also presented a packet comprising of a fountain pen, a bottle of ink and another icon from the past the “Banga Lipi” exercise book to the collective delight of the audience.
Those present were requested to test the inks and the pens at their leisure and share their opinion about them for the benefit of the fountain pen fraternity. Noted fountain pen lover Sukla Roy graced the occasion and congratulated Sulekha for the new initiatives, promising to act as the bridge between the company and the fountain pen loving community.
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