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A Planters Daughter


Sonali Balakrishna’s beloved father passed to his heavenly abode 7 years ago, leaving a 133-year-old heritage coffee estate in Chikmagalur with her. This project is a dedication to him, an onward journey to realize some of his unfulfilled dreams. Sonali is - A Planter’s Daughter.

A fashion designer and art history alumni from Parsons, Sonali previously worked in Gucci, Armani and Christian Lacroix having lived her 20s in the thrilling, stimulating, and inspiring environs of Paris and New York. On inheriting the estate, she moved back to India, and artfully reimagined her life - combining her diverse passions at the estate - to make it her serene and otherworldly haven.

Sonali approached us to design the packaging for four coffee-based products - coffee, cascara, scrub, and chocolate. The identity and packaging were to be inspired by the art nouveau movement - an era that represents her old-world soul. The 4 labels are based on the seasons by Alphonse Mucha, a Czech artist with a theatrical nouveau style from the 19th century. Sonali was to be the protagonist in these paintings that we reimagined. Her spirit is captured in an otherworldly composition. Her father's presence gently floated above her as her guardian cherub.

“To me, it is an image that captures my current spirit.  A woman in a natural environment.  Brazen, gentle, slightly carefree but content, serene and original, comfortable sitting on the skinny branches of life.  A woman with a playful spirit and confident glamour.  I find the paintings romantic and sensual and that is very appealing to me.  I love Mucha’s decorative use of flowers and these compositions highlight his fascination with magnifying the female presence. I like the serene mood of repose and contentment that pervade the scenes. “

The COFFEE is single origin, fair trade, and 100 % arabica, grown and nurtured with intention and heart. Shade-grown at the beautiful 230-acre Hiregudda Estate with its iron-rich laterite soil covered by a canopy of the rainforest, punctuated by natural streams. The berries are picked at the right time to preserve their potency and nutritional value. Medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga and Lion’s Mane are added to balance and restore the immune system.

The CASCARA or coffee cherry tea is the outer husk of a coffee cherry, a special tisane brewed just as loose-leaf tea and replete with beneficial antioxidants. Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, tulsi, or jasmine are added to help the body adapt to stress on a cellular level.

A Planter’s Daughter has a unique focus on ethics. 5% of the proceeds from every purchase is given to charitable foundations committed to rescuing victims of human trafficking. A tree is planted with every purchase via the Forest Foundation. Fairtrade practices, recycling, and composting are part of a larger effort to reduce the impact on the environment and to benefit the communities involved.

It was an honor for me to witness the intensity of this endeavor, and create packaging that is a visual expression of Sonali’s spirit - a prayer, a dream unraveling through its ethereal layers, beauty, pleasure and the pain of loss elevated to encase these treasured products. Each pack is a token of her spirit, and somewhere perhaps ours too, with all the love and intention poured into it.

A Planters Daughter