We had the good fortune of connecting with Srujana Nimmagadda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Srujana, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have always had an interest in the arts, and wanted to be a graphic designer or animator when I was in college. However, I got an engineering degree and currently have a very busy career as an aerospace engineer. I love my work, and the fact that very few people have gotten to do some of the things I’ve done, like travel to remote corners of the world and launch satellites into space. But despite all that, I felt like I needed a creative outlet to balance out the highly technical demands of my day job.
I dabbled in lots of different artistic hobbies growing up and I had started to get into calligraphy around the time that my mom got diagnosed with ALS in 2015. Her disease progressed quickly and in less than two years, she was gone. It was at that point that I realized how therapeutic and soothing calligraphy was, and I threw myself into practicing as a way to cope with my grief. I created a separate Instagram account and started posting my work just to keep track of my progress, and the idea of doing this as a business slowly started to evolve. My wedding planner, who had become a good friend ever since she had done my wedding back in 2014, reached out and asked if I wanted to be her in-house calligrapher. I loved the idea of providing hand made signage and keepsakes for weddings and special events and jumped on board with her, establishing my business Menakshee Designs, in early 2017.
Though my job and my business are both demanding at times, I love that I have both of them in my life to engage both sides of my brain. I feel like my technical background brings a balance to my calligraphy work, and I hope to be able to run my brand full-time in the near future.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Calligraphy and hand lettering allow me to create truly one-of-a-kind, unique pieces that can’t be recreated with a font. In an era when practically everything is digital, there’s beauty in slow down to create something with your hands and going back to the deliberate flow of ink on a surface. It’s an ancient art form and I love that it’s still alive today.
Starting and growing a business while simultaneously working a demanding full-time career isn’t easy, but it has definitely been worth it. There have been times that I’ve had to put my business on hold for awhile, like while I was traveling internationally for months on end for my aerospace job, and times when I took vacation days at work to have time to finish up a large client calligraphy order. Finding balance between the two, and also finding personal time to unwind and recharge is important and something I’m sure I’ll always be working on.
My biggest lesson learned is to not let fear hold me back. There’s been many times that a client comes to me with an idea that, initially, I’m not sure I can deliver. It’s either a medium I’ve never worked with before or a technique that I’m not familiar with or something completely out of the box. But I’ve learned to go with my gut and say yes anyway, and trust that I will figure it out – and I have, every single time. The rush of confidence afterwards is always gratifying.
I started my brand seeking to bring back the charm and warmth of handwritten words through beautiful scripts. Life has an abundance of moments that are filled with love: from the big once-in-a-lifetime moments that leave you weak-kneed, to the smaller, quieter but equally memorable ones. And the common thread between them all are usually words. My goal is to capture that love in a medium that you envision, and to bring your words to life, whether that’s by creating the perfect signage for your celebrations or pieces that you will cherish in your home for years to come. I promise to bring your ideas together in a way that is balanced, harmonious, and beautiful, and I’m always open to trying something for the first time, so feel free to dream big! I also provide the same services to brands and companies who want to personalize their events and brand activations, and offer classes and resources for those who are wanting to learn the art of calligraphy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m still relatively new to Colorado myself, so I feel like I could definitely use a tour guide at times. We have loved getting to explore all the little downtown/old town areas in neighboring cities and towns and trying new restaurants to find ones that are up to our standards of spice and flavor. Finding trails nearby to explore with our mini Aussie is also a favorite hobby, but I know there’s so much more out there to visit and check out that we haven’t had the chance to do yet.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My first shoutout definitely goes to Miranda Meisenbach, owner of MIRAwed, who gave me my first foot in the door to the world of weddings and events. She allowed me creative freedom and it was always the best to brainstorm together and create unique pieces.
The Rising Tide Society has also been an integral part of my business. When we moved to Colorado at the beginning of 2019, I essentially had to restart my business from scratch in a city and state where I didn’t know anyone and had no vendor connections. I looked up my local chapter the week we moved and met some incredible friends and made lasting connections through the group.
The calligraphy community as a whole has also been a huge part of my development and growth as a calligrapher and engraver. I’ve taken classes from many people and connected with other calligraphers and enthusiasts from all over the world. It’s solitary work, but being a part of such a large, diverse community is gratifying.
Last, but never least, my husband Carlos who puts up with all my late nights holed up in my home office and my weekends spent working on client projects. He is a constant source of encouragement and never hesitates to give me his honest opinion when critiquing my work, which I really appreciate. I couldn’t do this crazy juggling act with my job and my business without his support.
Chelsea Beamer @chelseabeamerphotography Matt Pangman @mattpangman Sarah @cuethelight