“We’ve stuck to being green in our gifting for over 15 years and have carved a name for who we are and what we stand for,” say Mala Sathyanarayanan and Leena Munot of The Giving Tree, Domlur (Bengaluru).
YourStory met Mala and Leena on a sunny morning recently, at The Giving Tree’s airy office in Domlur.
According to the founders, The Giving Tree is a place where one can plan and customise gifting using exotic and eco-friendly gifting options in handmade paper. They do hand-crafting of utility products for corporates, using Indian folk art forms like warli, madhubani and kalamkari. They also embellish their products using 'block print' designs.
Mala and Leena are passionate about representing Indian aesthetics in an eco-friendly manner, and this gave rise to them floating a whole range of Indian souvenirs, and incorporating popular landmarks of the country in the form of ink sketches and watercolour images.
While Mala and Leena are in the business of making people feel special and nurturing long relationships through innovative gifts for the last 15 years, they have recently taken this to a whole new level.
They have introduced 'Goals Mantra' – a complete 'goal achievement' kit, which helps people set, achieve and celebrate their life goals. “With this product, we are creating a life-changing transformation by giving the user the tools and techniques to live the life of their dreams,” the duo explain. Goals Mantra contains a 420-page template journal to help users record their life goals in a structured way for 52 weeks, daily planner, weekly planner and place to record daily wins and gratitude. It also has vision cards, wallet cards, thank you cards and music to anchor users in a space of creativity each day. Leena, who is the author of Goals Mantra, has been invited by leading universities and corporates to deliver her goal-setting workshops.
Work culture and work style
Mala and Leena’s style of working is with hand skill. A trained team of five people helps them create masterpieces in paper, like notebooks, diaries, calendars, journals, bags and gift hampers.
The Giving Tree started out in the year 2002 and in 2010 won the Best Business Plan award at ISB, with the 10,000 women initiative of Goldman Sachs. Mala and Leena are active members of BNI, the world’s largest referral organisation for over eight years.
What have they learnt along the way?
The duo say that they have learnt to stay out of the retail markets, since they are capital-intensive and require a different skill-set to compete with the cheaper products in the market. They are focussing our efforts on the corporate companies to help drive the green initiative through large numbers.
Setting up of systems and processes to streamline production, orders, quality control and a strong accounting division has helped The Giving Tree automate a large part of the work, which means the business continues without the founders around at all times.
As of now, there are no other players in the eco space who deal with handmade paper products. The founders say there are a few, but that they make very different products.
“Our future plan is to grow to become the go-to brand for all eco and innovative gifts, among corporate companies. We want to reach out to at least 5,000 companies in the next two years,” the founders say.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)