AT A GLANCE
OWNER: Anita Padukone
LOCATION: 75 Congress St., Portsmouth
SUMMER HOURS: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday
The elephant has long been a symbol in India for good luck and strength.
Anita Padukone is confident the elephant will bring her luck and strength at her new business in Portsmouth.
"I opened my boutique on June 17," said Padukone, "and already the response has been very good. We do sell lots of elephants, as statues and art in our wall hangings. Everyone loves the elephant."
Nari Fashions sells original folk art, clothing, jewelry and home décor items. The shop is full of treasures from India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Padukone moved to the United States 10 years ago. Before opening the Portsmouth store, she had one in Hampton Falls for a year.
"The Hampton Falls spot was not a good location," said Padukone. "I knew the right place for me to be was in Portsmouth."
Padukone said her interests have always been in art. She had wanted to be an artist, but she didn't think she could make a living doing just that.
So she combined her desire of owning her own boutique with her love of art.
"I only sell original folk art. All the wooden crafts come from Indonesia," said Padukone. "All my items from India come from all over the country and (are) handmade."
At the entrance to the store is a large hand-carved sculpture of dolphins. Near to this one is a large Buddha sculpture.
"The vases and pitchers come from various parts of India," said Padukone. "Every one is handmade and hand-painted."
There is an array of tablecloths, bed linens and scarves. The linens are hand-printed, stamped with a block 50 to 100 times to make the unique prints. The designs come from the eastern part of India, in Rajasthan.
Many of the scarves come from northern India and are custom embroidered.The shop is lined with wall hangings and hand-painted mirrors in a variety of colors and patterns.
"People so far are very interested in the wall hangings I sell," said Padukone.
The skirts, tops and blouses are made by artisans in northern India. Padukone said some of the artisans only do one style of the embroidery, so they are very good at it. Soon, she said, she will be carrying larger sizes of the shirts for men and tops for women, to accommodate the local demand.
The Indian shoes are handmade and hand-stitched in leather and cloth.
"These shoes do not have a right shoe and a left shoe, but one shoe," Padukone explained. "They are designed with the soft leather so that the foot will shape the leather for a perfect fit."
The shop also sells a large selection of miniature paintings done on silk and very old paper. Some of the framed paintings are done on stone. Each one is unique.
Padukone has fulfilled her desire to be an artist in that she now makes a large selection of the jewelry she sells.
"I am so happy because my own designs are selling so well," she said.
Padukone said she gets her gems from India and then makes the designs and jewelry herself. Not all the jewelry is made by her, however.
There is a wide selection from all over India and Indonesia.
"I am getting a good response to what I am making," said Padukone. "This is a very happy feeling. Portsmouth is being so good to me."
As if all the above isn't enough, Nari Fashions also has a wide selection of Indian bags. There are handmade leather bags, as well as the more traditional cloth bags, which come in many dazzling and vivid colors and designs.
There are finely designed mobiles made with light wood. The mobiles include fish, butterflies and birds, and some are very elaborate.
Padukone is most proud of a collection of framed butterflies.
"I did a lot of research on these to make sure it is good, and these were made in Thailand at a butterfly farm," said Padukone. "The butterfly has a lifespan of 21 days and then they are preserved. This helps protect the rainforests, these butterfly farms. The butterfly is never harmed.
"... I hope people will stop in and see all that I can offer them," said Padukone. "Portsmouth is the right place for me to have my boutique and make my jewelry designs."