• Allison Russom

Small Business Highlight: Etch Doodles

Today’s small business highlight is Etch Doodle, an online business in Memphis, TN, owned by Surekha Surendranathan. Surehka sells nature illustrations like leaves or mountains or commissioned pieces like an owner’s favorite pet. She has a wide range of beautiful art on her page, so you should check it out, her Instagram handle is @etchdoodles.

She was sweet enough to sit down with me and take some time away from her day job as a Researcher at The University of Tennessee. Surekha was born in India, which is where Etch Doodles began. It was more of a side hustle then because she was only drawing special requests for friends and family, but it didn’t grow roots until Surekha moved to Memphis. She went on to tell me “I love Memphis, it’s artsy and a perfect place for a small business to grow.” Because of Memphis’ strong artist community, it was easy for Surekha to grow from just drawing for friends and family to gaining customers and followers. She sells in markets and pop-ups in and around Memphis as well as through her Instagram by DM or email, which is etchdoodles@gmail.com.

Initially, I discovered Surekha through her Instagram account, and she had recently posted a doodle based on a popular YA series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. So, as a fellow bookworm, I had to know if she was a fan. She immediately lit up, saying, “Yes! Oh my god. I’m a huge fan!” Because of this series, she loves to draw crescent moons or celestial-related objects along with general fantasy images. But she told me that she also reads a lot of crime novels, “I can’t base my doodles off of that!” But she draws inspiration from nature and body positivity/neutrality because she thoroughly believes in loving your body and the person you are right now.

As a creator, having a creative block is one of the worst experiences to have. So I asked Surekha if there was anything that she did when she couldn’t find anything to draw. “I love the feel of colored gel pens against black [paper]. So I take these gel pens and start randomly doodling on black sheets so the color shows really well.” Another thing she likes to do is switch mediums by painting. She has a separate sketchbook that holds the paintings and doodles that she does on her off days. But don’t expect to ever see those come to light because Surehka says they are awful. Overall, she just tries to push through until she is on the other side of it.

We also discussed what kind of artist she is and how that has evolved. She used to be an artist who only drew on black, but now she says that she loves color, especially using metallic coloring to add a special touch to any piece. Surekha talked about how she has always loved intricate designs and details, no matter what the piece is. Details are something that she thrives on. Her Instagram page is filled with beautiful doodles of images like plants to birds to even a kidney that she custom made for a Nephrologist customer. Surekha has such a wide range of inspirations that it’s always fun to see what she draws next.

The last question I asked her was what she loves about being a small business in Memphis. Here is what she had to say: “The people are great. So in India, their art is amazing, but…very few people can afford to buy art. So unless there is some kind of personal connection to them, they are not going to buy art prints and stuff like that. So for me, I couldn’t grow as an artist.” She told me how much she loves the art community here and how supportive they are. She told me, “But in Memphis, I still remember my first market with Memphis Modern Market and it was amazing…I was blown away. Even if they don’t buy it, they come and talk to you, they say your art is good and it’s a great confidence booster.” Memphis makes her feel like there is no limit to what she can draw and that she has the creative freedom to do that.

It was so nice to sit down with Surekha and learn more about her and her small business. If you would like to see more of her art, again, her Instagram is @etchdoodles, and her email is @etchdoodles. If you would like to read more of our Small Business Highlight blogs, you can head over to our website www.theprofitlink.com or if you would like to keep up with our social media, we are @theprofitlink.


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