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.

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