Mansi Gupta opens up the ‘Tjori’ of global handicrafts to the world
As an entrepreneur, Mansi Gupta, Founder of Tjori, has learnt to manage both people and situations. Tjori is an exquisite online store launched in 2013 to deliver Indian handicraft products to North America.
Mansi has tackled many challenges as an entrepreneur, and since Tjori is in its growth phase she says, “It has moulded me into a human being who believes that force and hierarchy are not required to get work done.”
Childhood and early years
Mansi was born and brought up in Jammu. As a child has had a passion for travelling. In fact, she comes from a family of travel enthusiasts who would travel everywhere and would bring back with them items that were special to the place they were travelling to. This exposure to travel and to handicrafts from a young age triggered her love for handicrafts.
She studied at MHAC School, Nagbani and Maharaja Harisingh Collegiate School in Jammu. In 2004 she moved to Pune for her graduation. There she did her BCA from Pune University, followed by a post graduate degree from University of Whales, UK. Later, she returned to India and did a stint with corporate sales at IBM.
Later, Mansi joined the Wharton Program for Working Professionals, and while she was at Wharton, the idea of Tjori started taking shape.
Mansi recalls that on her Wharton Morocco trip, she bought many hand-crafted products, but had to refrain from buying everything she liked due to luggage constraints.
On the road to entrepreneurship
While at Wharton she realised that there was a huge demand for hand-crafted Indian products in North America. She says, “A little bit of research revealed that the Indian handicraft industry is a USD 32 billion industry.” This got her thinking about handicrafts; she realised that they had a ready market in North America, but by the time the handicrafts reached the consumers, it became very expensive due to traditional value chain. That was the only problem she needed to address.
Mansi says, “The idea was to directly reach the customers to get them exclusive hand-crafted products from Indian craftsmen, weavers and artisans at the best possible prices and great convenience. Tjori works on limited period sales model so that there will be an element of discovery every day and a limited time period for people to buy these items, which creates an urge to buy something before it is gone.”
“It is the hunt for the treasure and that’s the reason we call it as Tjori,” she adds.
“The idea was conceptualised while in Philadelphia, so all planning happened there. I was able to remotely tie-up with suppliers- not many though. We came back to India in August 2012, and finally
started with operations on the ground in October of the same year and launched in January 2013.”She further adds, “Also, when we launched our website, it crashed the first day itself. We had to shutdown for few hours as we had 250 orders.We were four people at that moment. The team had grown to five members by October-November 2012.”
At its inception, Tjori catered to only North America, but today it caters to India as well. What makes her venture unique, according to Mansi, is the limited time period sales model, which is a very unique concept as it creates an urge to buy something before it vanishes.
Mansi handles pretty much everything at Tjori- be it sourcing to supply chain to logistics to marketing. She adds, “I have started taking over tech as well now.” But as they’re scaling up, she’s aware that she can’t be doing everything on her own.
Her most challenging time, says Mansi, was starting up in India. Starting up with her partner Ankit has been a great experience. She shares, “We get more support than what we get from a professional partner. It has always been an eternal and unconditional support that I have got from Ankit. Ankit has been an adviser and investor. His direction and some best practices have always added more weight to Tjori.”
For Mansi, staying motivated is not a tough task, as small things motivate her. However, she says,
I can’t work by force for I want to create something that the world can remember me for even when I am not around.
As regards future plans, she wants Tjori to grow in the coming years. She is also looking to expand their team or workers and artisans so they can cater to other parts of the world as well.
Three tips for aspiring women entrepreneurs
-Keep your cool and work with full dedication.
-Love what you work and work where you love.
-Always try to be a friendly person.