The first brand that I endorse is BERNINA, and I have been doing that even before I became their Brand Ambassador.
My association with BERNINA India began when I was finding out my options to buy my first sewing machine in March 2010. I had saved up 10,000 Rupees (about 200$) to buy a sewing machine. I thought I had a lot of money - the local alternatives were around 4,000 Rupees. I filled up an inquiry form on the BERNINA website. Within about 2 hours, I got a call from Mr Ajay Gupta, of BERNINA India.
It has been many years since this conversation. So my memory might be fuzzy. But this is the gist of the conversation. Please do not laugh at my naivety (NOT stupidity).
Me : "Hi! I want to buy a sewing machine. And I think the BERNINA 550QE is best suited for my purpose. Can you please tell me the price?"
AG : "Sure. It is about 1,50,000 rupees."
Me : (Blank... and thinking - Seriously! It costs more than a car - the Nano was 1,00,000 Rupees at that time) ".....okay... do you have anything cheaper?"
AG : "Sure. We have the..."
Me : "Anything still cheaper?"
Now this went on for a while. We stepped down one by one machine.
Me : "Okay, I do not have a large budget. Do you have anything for 10,000 Rupees?"
AG : "Not in the BERNINAs. But we do have a BERNETTE in that range. The e56."
Then he went on to tell me the features of that machine and ALSO the comparison between this one and other brands at a similar price point. At no point did he insist that I buy a more expensive machine.
I thought to myself, this guy truly knows what he is talking (and I don't). So I should just go with what he recommends.
Turns out, it was the best investment I ever made. I got not just a sewing machine, but also a friend, almost an elder brother, who has been a huge support in my journey as a quilter. He has believed in me even before I did! He has shared his knowledge to help me grow. He has never held anything back. He has always been open to suggestions from me and my quilting community and he also took them seriously. When we talked about not having a place where we could come together to sew, he started the BERNINA Creative Center in Mumbai!
It was in 2014 that I was officially made the Brand Ambassador for BERNINA. Since then, I have got numerous teaching opportunities all over India as well as international recognition as a representative for the brand.
I endorse this brand of sewing machines, because I love them. Their interface is user friendly. The operation is smooth. And the machines are workhorses. They are tough too, both of my machines - the 330 (Emily - which was a gift from BERNINA) and the 710 (Ross) survived a leaking roof that soaked them through to their cores. If anything else had not convinced me to be a BERNINA fan, that incident surely did!
Next up, AURIFIL.
My association with AURIFIL started with an email I sent to their Brand Jedi - Alex Veronelli. I had come across a lot of bloggers saying that they got some free thread from him for hosting giveaways on their blogs. I mustered up some courage and wrote him an email. I think I had something like 75 followers for my blog at that time. He was super generous and sent me a whole bunch!
After that, he has always supported my blog and the wonderful community of Indian Quilters by sponsoring giveaways in our Facebook Group.
When I started writing my eBook- ABOUT face, I was looking for a subject for the quilt on the cover. I wanted someone well known and well-liked by quilters all over the world. Once again, I wrote him an email, asking him if he would be interested in being a subject. I was half expecting him to decline softly. So when he said yes, I was overjoyed!
I met him at QuiltCon 2015 for the first time. We met like we had always been friends! I handed over his portrait to him then! I was glad that he liked it! I have got numerous messages from quilters all over the world telling me that they saw the portrait at one of his lectures!
At the end of 2016, the Aurifil Design Team for the 2017 Block of the month was announced and I was overjoyed to find a place in it! I made a block for them and you can find the block, instructions and my interview on the Auribuzz blog.
When the AURIFIL artisans program was announced, I applied to be on it and was selected to be one of the 45 fabulous quilters to represent AURIFIL worldwide. I still cannot believe I am actually sitting among a lot of awesome quilters that I have admired and followed since I began quilting.
I love AURIFIL because the thread is precious. It is the softest cotton thread (they also make wool, poly - for long arm - and mono-filament thread). The range of colors is simply marvelous and their intensity is superb. They are perfectly wound and have uniform thickness. If at any time, I have trouble with my spool, all I have to do is drop a line to Alex (even when I was a newbie quilter) with the spool number and the batch number on it and he makes sure that my spool is replaced!
I am an AURIgirl and proud to be one!!!
And now, my recent endorsement - HAVELS SEWING.
I was first introduced to Havel's, on my maiden trip to the USA in 2015 for QuiltCon. I was the person who had traveled the farthest for that convention! When I was going through the various booths, I stumbled into a lovely Pink booth with an equally lovely lady sitting there. I don't remember her name, unfortunately, but she was one of the sweetest person I had ever met.
She called out to me asking me if I was the one who had traveled the farthest. She was totally astounded to hear that I had traveled for over 36 hours just for QuiltCon. I was browsing through their scissor collection and she insisted that I take the two that I had selected to buy as a gift from the company. I was overjoyed. But that was only what I felt at that moment - the joy of getting a freebie!. The real fun started when I reached home.
Before that, I had not used a branded pair of scissors. I did not even get a Fiskar's in my local market. Neither was I aware of any scissor brands out there and the fact that I should be using a branded one! So fast forward to the day I went back to my studio after coming back from the USA. I had taken some time to put away all the stuff I bought on my trip (and it was a lot). So when I wanted to cut some fabric, I thought, "Let me use that new pink scissors." I had no idea my life would change with that one snip!
I cut into a piece of fabric and my brain went, "Whoa!!!" It was so much easier to cut fabric when you're using a good pair of scissors! I had NEVER even given it a thought! I was having trouble with cutting my fabric, my hands used to ache after finishing large projects and sometimes, the scissors were so bad they did not even cut straight lines! But I always thought that is how cutting with scissors is!
Once I started using my 'pink' scissors I absolutely loved them. At QuiltCon 2017 (Savannah) I got a 'pink' mat for being a Super Volunteer! The mat was smaller than the one I had so again, I was not very keen about it. But I decided that before I gave it away to my friend (I had already promised her the mat) I will use it once. I absolutely loved it!
I did not want to give the mat away to my friend, but I did not go back on my words. I got in touch with the company and told them that I loved their stuff and that I would be glad to represent them! They agreed and very soon I was the owner of a larger 'pink' mat that now dominates my studio! I also have a whole range of products - scissors, seam rippers and the most fantastic cutting system! I totally love all my Havel's products because they are durable (my scissors from 2015 work absolutely fine) and pretty too! They are also precise. The mat is thicker and the surface is so much better than my old mat. I absolutely love all my Havel's products.
I must clear something right away. I am NOT paid by any of the companies above to endorse their products. They do send me samples to try out and use. But ONLY if I like what I am using do I have to recommend it. My relationship with all these three companies has been that of friendship, rather than business. They have been a part of my life for years before I started representing them.
I enjoy my position as an influencer in the quilting community and also take it seriously. So unless I would spend my own precious money and buy the product (if I needed it) I will not recommend that you do the same! So when I recommend a product, you can be sure that it is not because I have any benefit behind the scenes but rather because I believe in its benefit in our lives!