(Creative) Representation Matters with Akshita Garud

Curated experiences, brand building and creative output are terms that flow out with ease when in conversation with Akshita Garud (@akshitagarud) – the brains behind Two Odd (@two_odd_) and An Odd Experience (@an_odd_experience). With a proclivity to explore all things creative, Akshita Garud’s perceptive agency taps into an array of talents that they hold. We sat down with her to learn what urged her to start Two Odd and her learnings since.

What made you start a unique platform like Two Odd? 

Sabah Sheikh and I started Two Odd out of a need to express ourselves in a more creative sense. We wanted to create a space that encompasses both of our unique strengths and lets us express ourselves better. Currently, Two-Odd is a one-woman show, completely run by yours truly. While I do have my day job and have learnt a ton along the way, the aim was always to start something of my own. I thought, why wait when I can slowly build it now?

So, you have a day job too? How do you juggle it all?

Honestly, I don’t know myself. I love Two Odd, but it does take a back seat most days. I work full-time at Zalando here in Berlin where my role is more business driven. Two Odd satisfies my creative side but on the days I’m working on both, my friends have told me that I’m completely M.I.A.

We don’t put out content just to stay active or for the algorithm but content we genuinely love, and we take our time with it.

What would you say comes under Two Odd?

So, there are 2 major branches to Two Odd, we are an online magazine as well as a creative agency. Via the magazine, we aim to release an article every quarter. The primary goal of the magazine is to discuss topics that are often hushed, initiate conversations, and challenge rigid societal norms or themes that we believe haven't been talked about enough. Once the topic and narrative are defined, we conceptualize the visual language that would help amplify the discussion, and then we work on bringing the entire project to life. The time frames for each article are subjective; we have gone from bringing something to life in a month to researching for a year.

In the past, we have covered topics such as 'The ever-evolving definition of representation,' 'Rape culture coverage by Indian Media,' 'Soft Masculinity,' and other subjects that highlight body and beauty positivity in our society heavily influenced by the West.

Two Odd is also creative agency where we leverage our strengths as art directors. My professional trajectory has mainly focused on art direction for editorial content driven by storytelling, and that's what we do through our creative studio. We collaborate with brands, assisting them in crafting their visual identity through seasonal content rollout, heavily infused with storytelling. We prioritize working with brands that resonate with our content, aesthetic, and past work. They understand that collaborating with us entails finding a middle ground, resulting in a distinct niche.

Recently, I've been exploring my skills in spatial design and table art through a new extension of our creative studio called "An Odd Experience."

Can you tell us about An Odd Experience and how that came to be?

An Odd Experience was born when we noticed a big gap in experiences and gatherings especially post the pandemic. The ‘Experience’ in question is what we decide from start to finish. Our approach to finalising everything is always linear. We first decide on a theme – which is mostly time-wise relevant, or similar to the magazine is a topic that in our opinion hasn’t been spoken enough about and needs visibility. In the past, our themes have been: Navigating through uncertainty, Independence, Toxic Positivity etc. The theme is then translated into every aspect of the evening, from the menu and the food, to the creative direction of the evening to the way one interacts with the experience or the food.

An Odd Experience

Post this we decide on the place where we would host this. Now we are a travelling community so to speak. We have hosted An Odd Experience in Berlin and India so we are ready to host anywhere that would work for the theme we have decided – this helps us also zero in on potential chefs that we would like to collaborate with us that would also work for our theme.

We usually host just about 20 people with each event and don’t go over that. Once we have the event in place we post our Save the Date on our Instagram, it is open for everyone to come by and experience this with us.

An Odd Experience

Do you think the need for creative representation is what led you to build Two Odd and An Odd Experience?

Yes, definitely. Representation is everything. I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. I left home at 21 to study and work. Since then, I’ve made a home in 5 different countries. I have used Two Odd to creatively express and influence change to complex structures that have personally impacted me. South Asians are usually clubbed in the same group in the Western World. I would say that to some extent generalisation led to the start of Two Odd and An Odd Experience.

While I want to eventually work on both full-time, I would say now we are just building it so that when I do want to switch, I don’t have to build the two from the ground up.