It was a desire not to miss out on her infant son’s growing up years that made Ekta Singh startup. One year down the line and Ekta is the proud proprietor of themagicalthread.com, a one-stop destination for chikankari and everything designer.
At present based in Mumbai, software engineer Ekta quit her job as a software engineer and was content taking care of her son until he turned four. Around last year, she started feeling the itch to get back to work again. But once back at work, she was again not at peace. Having put her son is a daycare, she used to constantly worry about his meals, health, and care while she was away at work.
“It certainly did not help my cause. I felt so guilty on days he was unwell and I was unable to be by his side to take care of him because of professional commitments. That is what made me quit my job the second time,” says Ekta.
She found herself stuck in a Catch-22 situation. The thought of sitting idle despite being professionally qualified was quite unsettling for Ekta and the fact that a ‘housewife’ label would stick to her for the rest of her life, made her think twice.
It was at this point in time that she decided to do something which interests her, join the league of entrepreneurs and yet have the flexibility to work from home and watch her son grow.
An attempt to take chikankari to the masses
Born and brought up in the culturally rich Lucknow, Ekta had seen people’s fascination for simple and even designer chikankari. In the years that she was on a sabbatical, she used to do online shopping and was quite struck by the high price of chikankari that was found on designer labels.
“I realised that there is nothing that the middle class could afford. My venture started in the hope of bridging that gap and taking chikankari to all, in particular the middle segment who are made to think that to wear a chikan is sheer luxury,” says Ekta.
Ekta got her first stock of wholesale supply from Lucknow and invited women from the neighbourhood to take a look and share their feedback. The women were so happy and all her stock got sold out in no time. That is was her first tryst with success.
With a developer husband, Ekta did not find it very difficult to put up a website and go online with her venture. As is true for any startup, financial constraints existed in the first few months and Ekta decided to do modelling herself. Slowly, business started picking up and so started growing Ekta’s belief in her abilities as a mompreneuer.
Though no one in her family was into entrepreneurship, she wanted to have a boutique of her own someday and that helped her take the big leap.
The initial struggles
“An online portal depends a lot on the right marketing and advertising, so we had to work very hard at it in the initial months. It is also important that people trust your brand, so the initial days went mostly into the confidence-building exercise,” she says. Thus, exhibitions to give people that good feeling and the confidence about her products were held in good numbers to gain the initial traction. She also had to cut down on her profit margins to ensure that the product gets a good recognition in the market first.
Ekta started with her savings and is now looking out for investors.
A software engineer’s foray into entrepreneurship
When Ekta started out, she was clear on one thing – that many people have had bad experience in online fashion shopping which they kept talking about when she spoke of her venture. So her task became doubly difficult – she had to ensure that people’s bad memories were erased and her own products had to stand up to the test of time.
As Ekta says, in entrepreneurship, it’s your profit or loss. “When one is pursuing a job, the responsibility factor is cut down to some extent and you don’t go that deep into the company making loss or profit. But once you start something, the entire responsibility rests on you to manage the finances, the quality, and every possible aspect of the venture,” she says.
Although initially it was little different for her, being an entrepreneur after having worked for so long, she did manage to adapt to it. As she says, “Now I have my son in front of my eyes all the time, even when I am working, so that makes him my strength and no more my weakness,” she signs off.