Anna Elizabeth, a Kollam native, created a unique Onam saree that you will not get anywhere in the world. She created the world’s first real size edible saree from scratch. It took over 30.5 hours to make the saree, and a total of 52.7 hours to produce the final product. Believe it or not, Anna isn’t a professional florist, a fashion designer, or a baker, yet she was able to pull it off successfully in the first attempt itself. She proudly shared, “It feels amazing to be the first Malayali (and person) in the world to create this beautiful product for Onam. Oru Malayali vigaram thanne.”
Anna is a Cell Biology researcher by profession and a recent graduate in B.S.M.S. She holds the 76th rank in CSIR and has plans to pursue a PhD. She’s also the founder of Jacob Bakes, Kollam’s first designer cake venture, and Jacob Florals, a venture that crafts florals for small events.
She shared, “I was interested in fashion designing and baking since I was a child. The name behind my floral and baking venture has a history to it. Jacob is my mother’s father’s name. He passed away 33 years ago in the Peruman railway accident. His elder sister, who just got married two weeks before the accident, also passed away that same day. I have never met my Appachan, but I have heard a lot about him. And every time my mother of a relative talks about him, they highlight his amazing baking skills. He apparently wanted to start a bakery. So, in remembrance of him, I named my baking and floral venture in his name. All the recipes are his, by the way.”
Last year, Anna had created a cupcake hamper which was the talk of the town. Each cupcake had around 100-120 hand piped petals. “It was a big hit among my customers, and it was featured on many newspapers and channels,” she enthusiastically shared. This year, Anna wanted to try something unique for Onam. The idea to create an edible saree struck her a month and a half ago. She further added, “I didn’t want it to be restricted to cakes or cupcakes this time. But I knew that if I was to take up something unique, it was going to be a challenge. More than that, I had to think about the infrastructure and facility at my perusal to plan this big idea as I am a home baker.”
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The past one and a half months before Onam went into researching. She agrees that her background in Biology really helped her create the world’s first real size edible saree. Anna shared, “It was really hard because I had to manage my PhD interviews, cake orders, and research at the same time. I would stay awake till 5 am in the morning to do this.” Apart from creating something unique, Anna wanted to choose an Onam saree that really stood out. Every Onam, she would either ask her own people to design a saree or she would hand-paint one herself. But this year, she really didn’t have the time. Anna commented, “I was in the terrace, chatting away when I saw my mother’s saree hung to dry. That’s when the idea struck.”
The cost of production was ₹10,000, a bit more than a basic Kanchipuram sarees. The entire project production cost more than ₹30,000. She shared, “I funded the entire thing by myself. There is this notion that women can survive only if they’re dependent financially on others. I wanted to show that any woman can pull off anything, even the smallest of things, on their own and in the comforts of their house. All they have to do is invest a fraction of a second to believe that they can do it. Then they will start to realise all the unlimited possibilities in them.”
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Anna had to create her own working platform from things available at home to craft the entire saree. By combining books and tables together, she was able to create a 5.5-metre long table. She used around 100 A4 size wafer sheets, a rice-derived product. There’s no one in the world who has created an edible saree that is 5.5 metres long.
She did not sell this saree. In fact, it was a project she took up as a challenge. “I am a person who takes up all these mad challenges. I was a bit hesitant if it would be a great investment or not. The trials were done on a small scale basis. It was challenging because of the financial expense and skill constraints, especially since it was a food product. But, all the effort was worth it.”
Anna totally deserves a world record for creating the world’s first real size edible saree from scratch. She showed us what it means to push own boundaries, and challenge ourselves to create a beautiful outcome.