Captain Cool MS Dhoni’s hometown Ranchi is the latest town to join the Make In India bandwagon.
Being manufactured there are attractive classy Nehru jackets and being sold across the length and breadth of the country. The person behind this innovative venture? Arti Poddar, who took the plunge into entrepreneurship at the age of 60 last year.
Age was never a deterrent for Arti.
It is my father who started a new business at the age of 72 and always told us that it is never too late to start up. Guess I was always inspired by him and that is why this decision to start something on my own now,
says Arti, the proprietor of Mulberry Lifestyle, a Ranchi based company which is into manufacturing and selling Nehru jackets.
Why something like Nehru jackets? “It is the in-thing I feel. Whenever you sit in front of the television, you see most characters sporting Nehru jackets in daily soaps and movies. I thought this is very attractive and then it is an indigenous product too,” says Arti.
Her thought is perhaps in the right direction given that orders come in from all corners of the country for Arti’s signature Nehru jackets.
An entrepreneur’s journey
Arti says she always wanted to do something different and had a business bent of mind. From Kahalgaon in Bihar, she pursued her History Honours from Patna Women’s College and subsequently got married to a Ranchi businessman. Married into a joint family, she started helping her husband in his steel furniture manufacturing unit.
“Throughout I helped him and when discussions around my younger son starting up the food processing unit started, I started feeling the itch to do something too. In a way you could say, he inspired me too,” says Arti.
At the dinner table, the family used to have discussions and that is when she expressed her desire to start up and was greeted with a pleasant approval from her family. In fact, her younger son helps her on the marketing front of her business.
Arti says it helped that she started in Ranchi. “Here I took very little time to establish myself given that
there was no competition from any similar venture. I started only in September last year and went online with my sales in December. The response has been very good so far. The products’ goodwill spreads by word-of-mouth. If someone wants to start up here and take the initiative, the environment I would say is encouraging,” says Arti.
Arti sources quite a lot of her material from Delhi. Big companies who are into making linen and cotton are where she gets her raw material from. Her silk comes from Bhagalpur, a place known for its rich silk.
Mulberry Lifestyle has a number of artisans working for them and the products are currently sold online. She is also looking at a few retail stores to further expand her business. She is also exploring the market to launch a Nehru jackets line for women and children. At the moment it is restricted only to men.
A proud moment
It was recently that she got a call from the Chief Minister’s office.
They wanted me to make a Nehru jacket for his oath-taking ceremony in five hours flat. It was challenging but I guess I lived up to it and it was indeed a proud moment to see him don a jacket that I had stitched at such an important day of his life. He even invited us to his oath-taking ceremony,
recalls an obviously delighted Arti. She says she chose to get a red jacket for the Chief Minister as that is an attractive and positive colour for an event of such magnitude.
Ample family support
It helped Arti to have ample support at home. Her husband, himself a businessman, has always stood by her and both her sons too have been helpful in their own way. Her elder son is a lawyer at the Supreme Court while her younger son is in the process of setting up a food processing unit in Ranchi itself.
This is how she keeps up with the latest designs.
When Arti goes to big metros, she keeps visiting the showrooms to find out what’s in vogue. “It helps me understand people’s tastes and their preferences,” says Arti.
She has only one dream – to see the name of Mulberry Lifestyle across the country. “Whenever they think Nehru jacket, they should think of Mulberry Lifestyle,” says this ambitious entrepreneur.