Working Title: Meet internationally recognized footwear artist, Mayuree Pethkar

Working Title is a series capturing the journeys of lawyers who pursue offbeat opportunities.
Mayuree Pethkar with her hand painted footwear - Koyree
Mayuree Pethkar with her hand painted footwear - Koyree

On completing a bachelor's in mass media, Mayuree Pethkar went on to pursue law from Mumbai University. Alongside her career as a lawyer, Mayuree began a side hustle with her artisanal footwear brand Koyree - The Art Mojaris.

Over the last 3 years, Mayuree made inroads into the international market with her art, collaborating with different celebrities along the way. In conversation with Bar & Bench's Jelsyna Chacko, she shares her journey as a lawyer, how art and law influenced her many initiatives and more.

Warli art on mojaris
Warli art on mojaris

How did you decide to study law?

I was introduced to laws on advertising while pursuing my bachelor's in mass media. I always liked the part of brand repositioning, brand recall, developing a brand name not just by registration but also by helping the brand grow and securing trademarks for them. My specialization in the final year of law school was Intellectual Property Laws along with Banking and Insolvency.

When did the idea of setting foot on your art journey come by?

During my law practice, I took care of trademark-related litigation. In 2020, I was helping brands understand why trademarks were important. So, the law and being an artist were very closely intertwined.

Every aspect of securing trademarks taught me something about being an artist and putting myself in the shoe of fellow artists. While small entrepreneurs approached me for securing their trademarks, they also became customers for Koyree. That is how I networked and collaborated at times. A lot of times, Koyree was also given to fashion designers and celebrity stylists.

Mojaris with Paithani art from Maharashtra
Mojaris with Paithani art from Maharashtra

How did you enter the international market with Koyree?

Once when visiting a footwear market, I felt like looking at the different kinds of footwear available and if there was any way I could have my art on. I picked up a few samples, put my artwork on it and casually displayed it in one of the flea markets in my area. I had people walking in, picking up the pieces. They found the footwear different; it was about art and comfort. These people would then travel abroad and that is how the journey began.      

Then came a marketing agency, Kikito, which enabled global access to Koyree for consumers in the US. They arranged for the shipping and logistics They gave me a platform where I could display my work.

Instagram was another source of clients. I had Indians wearing this art footwear in the West Indies, in Australia. They wanted to wear art.

Mojaris with Gond Art from Madhya Pradesh
Mojaris with Gond Art from Madhya Pradesh

How did you tap into celebrity endorsements?

Mayuree with Marathi film actor, Tejaswini Pandit
Mayuree with Marathi film actor, Tejaswini Pandit

Early on, my art caught the attention of celebrities in the Marathi industry, namely Tejaswini Pandit and Mukta Barve. These celebrities wore it in their events and promoted it. That is how Koyree was getting recognized.  

One more strong memory that I have is of these very famous lawyers - Anvee and Suruchi in Mumbai who run an Instagram page called glaminlaw. I reached out to them saying that I am a lawyer and spoke about Koyree as my passion.

They immediately got ready to go for a location to shoot.

Koyree mojaris being worn by glaminlaw lawyers - Anvee & Suruchee
Koyree mojaris being worn by glaminlaw lawyers - Anvee & Suruchee

What were the challenges that came with running a venture of your own?

The challenge was mostly about mass production. Since it is hand-painted art and a one-man-show, it was difficult to find people who could replicate the finesse that is required for art on footwear. The surface of the footwear is very delicate and doing very minute art on it is challenging.

How did your experience as a lawyer help in your art journey?

My interpersonal skills helped me establish relations with clients for Koyree and a certain level of trust was formed. After all, lawyers have trust as a primary foundation

How do you balance your practice and Koyree?

Koyree will always be a passion. One always finds time for their passion. The work I did with Koyree also drove me into doing a lot of legal work for artists.

There are art curators, brand owners, entrepreneurs, so many people need my help.

Where I live right now, I have at least 3 clients in my own building because they don’t know where to go for trademark related queries.

Any insights from your practice that you used while building Koyree?

I never worked in big law firms, did not graduate from an NLU, never got a chance to pursue law abroad. I had to swim on my own. It was a painful but thrilling experience and I had to find my own ways.

I connected these dots when I began my venture with Koyree, which was again all about trial and error.

What is your new initiative “Art, Law & Dialogue” about?

Art, Law & Dialogue is for Indian artists who have their work showcased in galleries across the globe. I intend to also offer one copyright registration for each artist I get on board, without charging any legal fees.

This is my way of giving back to the community of artists.

How lucrative is it to pursue art on a full-time basis?

If you give 100% to it, it will definitely flourish within a couple of years. For me, it worked because I was giving it my all back in 2019.

For me, as a mother, sitting with the shoes, doing a lot of hand work was very tiring alongside taking care of my child.

It involved a lot of physical energy.

I have so many clients who are already pursuing art full-time, and celebrities are buying from them. That is quite encouraging. Someday you’ll see your creations in books, and someday you’ll see it on the T.V.

So, yes, it’s picking up and can be monetized well if one is serious about it.

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