Manav Johar loves adding colour to people’s life.
Manav Johar is all of 15, and already a small-business owner. When most of us were baking bread or binge-watching shows, he started tie-dyeing stuff as a lockdown hobby. “If you were to ask my mom, she’ll tell you that I’ve always had the mind of a businessman. Right from the age of five—I’ve been trying to sell different things—from cookies and old books to even tickets to my own dance show! When the pandemic struck last year, I had made a few masks for my family to wear while stepping out. People would always ask where we got these masks from! This is when an idea struck my head: Let’s make the COVID world a little more colourful.”
Just like that Amor Avia, a new tie-dye label was born! The name holds a special meaning to the Johar family. Amor Avia roughly translates to ‘grandma love’ in Catalan (the official language of Andorra and co-official language of three autonomous communities in eastern Spain). “I chose this name as my lovely grandma sadly passed away in 2020, battling cancer. She holds a strong place in my heart: She was a true fashionista, and I owe it all to her.”
Why tie-dye you ask? “I find the whole process therapeutic and is the best way to unwind,” reveals Johar. “You can unleash your creativity and play with different colours. I absolutely fell in love with the way my dyes splashed onto the plain tees to form crisp beautiful patterns!” The young entrepreneur started off with masks, but has now progressed to do tie-dyeing T-shirts, kurtas, tracks, hoodies, shirts, mundus (South-Indian dhotis), dog stuff, kurtis, scrunchies, dresses, sarees and a lot more. “We can even dye your old clothes for a small amount,” says Johar.
“I have destroyed the upstairs bedroom in my house and my mom’s furious,” he quips. “I use only natural cold-water dyes. Hot-water dyes produce a toxic chemical, which can be terrible for both me and my products. I spend a good two to three hours in my ‘tie-dye room’ and spend another couple on packaging.” The first customers were mostly families, but now they have a great mix of buyers across age groups and genders. “We mainly sell through Instagram (@amor_avia21) and word-of-mouth references, but we now have a new website which I designed by myself www.amoravia21.com.”
View this post on Instagram
Johar says that his parents have always been supportive with almost everything he does. “My mom helps me with the packaging—from choosing colour combos to the handwritten ‘thank you’ notes. My dad on the other hand, helps me with the accounting and business, deliveries and so much more. I have a brother, Raghav who helps with large orders and packaging. My grandfather is my number one fan and so are my cousins and uncles, aunties and my whole family. I am so glad to even have encouraging teachers,” he says excitedly!
The Johars reside in Kochi, Kerala, and he tries to balance his life, as tie-dyeing takes up a lot of his time. When he’s not managing his small business, he enjoys living the teen life. “I swim competitively, I used to hang out with my friends before lockdown, and I do Yoga. I love reading and playing with my puppy, Draco,” On his days off, he loves to Netflix and chill like the rest of us. “Since I hand-dye every single product, the process is time-consuming: I tie-dye only during weekends after my studies.”
Quiz him about his future plans and he says he wants to keep up his good grades and work hard to forge ahead in life. “I want to concentrate on my further education and work towards getting into one of the top colleges. Amor Avia has a deep meaning to me and will always be a part of my life, but my main objective no matter whatever path I take, is to be happy with what I am doing. I have never thought about ever doing fashion, but my mom is into fashion retail, so this is more of a side hustle for me. Maybe someday, I will own a company by the same name! Never say never!”
For now, the wise-beyond-his-years tie-dye expert is happy where he is in his life. His motto is pretty simple and on point: Why wear white when tie-dye exists? Yes, we could all do with a little bit of colour in our lives in these bleak times indeed!