There is fairly unanimous agreement that starting up is a journey. The beginning - the moment one starts unrolling a project- is often a very interesting phase because it is equally blessed and threatened by the lack of experience. Here follow the stories of three young entrepreneurs who show how they live the early stage of their venture.
The Bright Log
Among the colours, the loud noise, and the smell of food at a flea market in Mumbai, the detailed and black-dominated design of The Bright Log stands out. It is not only the thousands of narrow line patterns of their print that hypnotises the observer; the people behind the stall are even more striking.
Two girls smile from the jungle of designed items and move lightly in their limited space at the stand; while a third one sits a little away with a cat on her lap, a sketchbook in her hands, and her full attention on the shapes that are being traced by her pencil.
Umangee Babla handles collaborations, exhibitions, finances, PR and marketing; Aswathi Nair curates social media and communications, besides elaborating ideas for designs. Eshaa, the designer, is a self-taught artist. They started The Bright Log a few months ago alongside their regular jobs.
“We also want to revive a few art forms in our own style and make people aware of the forgotten arts. We are looking at collaborations with NGOs and cottage industries to provide work to artists who don't get their due. It's something we want to do to promote Indian products,” they say.
When asked whether their only all-women team was by choice, the trio replied it wasn’t. “It just clicked instantly the minute we all sat down and discussed how we need to do something more than just our regular jobs. Our aim was not to make money but to create an outlet for our skills,” they explain. “As we grow, we would like to expand our team with more talented people - both men and women.”
The team adds that at some point they did think their first books slightly leaned towards women because they portrayed Geishas, Matryoshka dolls, and giraffes in stilettos. “However,” they continue, “once we went live, there were guys coming to the stall and picking up these designs. So we really don't think art is gender specific. Good art is one-size-fits-all!”When it comes to dealing with things, we think that we can do much better as women right from sourcing our raw materials to cracking good deals to running back and forth from the printers for each design sample and details. You got to do what you got to do.
The gender bias element emerges only rarely: “At times when we have to go sourcing for raw materials, the vendors take some time to realise that we make the final decisions. Besides that, I think we are all equipped to handle any kind of situation,” the ladies explain.
Read more about creative work: photo story
Pink mud – Sell good, so we smell good
“India has been familiar with using perfumes for quite a decade now, and yet the perfume industry smells pretty nascent,” says Mansyee Pabrekar, Founder of the perfume company Pink Mud.
The team started a year ago importing fragrances from France and blending them in Mumbai.
“The industry is flooded with the cheaply priced products or deodorants,” says Mansyee, adding, “It looks quite tough and cumbersome currently to propel as a brand in this deo-dominated market, but we believe in it.”
Mansyee graduated from NM College of commerce and economics and then went to the UK to study at the University of the Arts, London. Her father owns a garment business and a denim brand which, she says, “was really inspiring for the amazing examples he set.” However, after working for him and interning in other major fashion companies, she “wanted to own something and be responsible for making some good brand or content.”
“I was gathering guts to talk to my father,” she continues. “I first met the marketing head at his company and I quickly told him about my intention to start up a business to blend perfumes. He rarely approves what people do, but he turned out to be very supportive.” Fuelled by the encouragement, Mansyee moved on to inform her father who also liked the idea and has backed her in shaping Pink Mud.
“In a 15,000 crore industry we want to place Pink Mud with eye catching designs, price friendliness and a value oriented product to our consumer,” Mansyee explains.
“We have tried to conquer various moods of a woman. Whether she is at her sexiest or ready for coffee at 5 pm, we have bottled her fantasies,” she adds, “Moreover our prices are as low as Rs 500 for an Eau de Toilette.” Pink Mud products are now available at fleas and on Flipkart. “In future, we look to collaborate with more online platforms,” Mansyee says.
The company started last year and aims to be profitable in the next two years. “We have got cash flowing and earned customers’ love. We now want to broaden on our range and target a larger number of selling points,” says Mansyee.
“Because the market is now dominated by deodorants, making perfumes now is surely a risky bet. However, my team of four and I believe that even though we are in the process of getting our venture off the ground, without risks there is no way out,” she adds and optimistically concludes, “There would be a day we would be called the Victoria’s Secret of India.”
Read more how entrepreneurs creatively enter the perfume and fragrance market: Atomyzer
Baby’s Locker – the baby enterprise
The week-old Baby’s Locker is an Organic and Fairtrade Clothing brand for babies which, according to its Founder Esha Kayan, is “by far the cutest.”
When a lot of nephews, nieces, and cousins started crawling around her house, Esha, who is a self defined fashion addict, ventured to several shopping trips in search of cute outfits for them. “All this went in vain,” she says “and got me thinking ‘why not come up with something of my own?’ I was not really sure about what to do, but I eventually found my way to Baby’s Locker!”
Read more about baby outfit : Greenkins
The venture’s initial capital was pooled up through her family and friends and some savings left from her work experiences in the UK. Esha worked on her idea for 10 months before launching Baby’s Locker. “The brand is all about bright happy colours and the aim is to make sure that the little ones are comfy, safe and happy.” The products are completely organic because, Esha explains, “the message is to respect the world we live in, which is where our children will grow and play.”
The main challenge for Esha is getting a team together. “I am handling everything myself! One-man army sort of! There isn’t any management team backing me up at the moment! I design the clothes and my workers have helped me immensely! In fact, I designed the website myself so a lot of money was saved in that front!”
Baby’s Locker is online for now, and the baby clothes might soon be seen along with outfits for new mums. Baby steps for baby customers and their families.