Akanksha Chauhan on Bauble Love, brands, and bootstrappingTanvi Dubey
Bauble Love is all about fashion accessories, and yet, its founder, Akanksha Chauhan, does not wear any. Despite that, the 25-year-old who has been a tomboy all her life, has a keen eye and knack for fashion that has seen her winning over her customers. She says, “I am able to select the best for my clients, that’s all that matters.”
Having spent 22 years in Ahmedabad, the city where she was born and brought up, Akanksha eventually moved to Bengaluru in 2013 to pursue her Masters’ degree in Business Administration with NMIMS, and has been here since. A year later, the idea of Bauble Love sprung out of a boring summer internship at a digital marketing agency. As an enthusiastic online shopper, she found her interest mounting in e-commerce and so she turned to fashion accessories. “It was fast-moving fashion, didn’t have a lot of competition in the Indian market, and most importantly, it was something that everyone could relate to,” she says. What started as curated pictures on Facebook and Instagram was such a hit with the audience that, very soon, Akanksha found good vendors and started taking orders. Bauble Love was in business.
HerStory spoke with Akanksha to know more about her journey with Bauble Love and what she has in store for her customers this year:
From part time to full time
Akanksha got a job via campus placements with TNS, a market agency where she was doing qualitative market research. This was followed by a stint with ZingoHub, an e-commerce startup in Bengaluru. She recently quit to focus all her energy on Bauble Love. She says, “There was a moment of realisation that one can’t juggle two things even though a steady job offers income and security, and companionship in the form of fellow employees. However, you will always have a piece of you that will be going out to what you really love and no matter how hard you to try to play the balancing act, you’ve got to let one go to reap the benefit of another.”
She admits that she is seeing so many more positive things happening around Bauble Love that it would be naïve of her to go looking for stability and let this go- “that has the possibility of turning into something so much bigger than what it is at the moment.”
Her team has four members including her. While she is based in Bengaluru, the team works out of Ahmedabad. All operations, in terms of order processing and delivery are outsourced, so the team can handle these from any location. She curates most products and a few are designed in-house and then manufactured. “The entire process happens online, since we are well connected with our manufactures and suppliers abroad. Sourcing within the country is a challenge both in terms of price and quality. The delivery is also outsourced to our logistics aggregators to ensure we have shipment fulfilments within the promised period.” Running a well-oiled system, Akanksha prides herself on the quality of the products and the personal relation that the team builds with the customers.
“We don’t have a template for email. Each email is personalised. We connect only via email and the turnaround time to any request we get is 30 minutes. We have our own inventory and ship the same day and we have less than 1 percent returns,” says Akanksha about what makes Bauble Love stand out.
Though the first year was challenging in terms of revenue, the last two years have seen phenomenal change. “So, to give you an estimate, from a monthly revenue of Rs 30,000 it has spiked to Rs 1.25 to 2 lakh a month,” shares Akanksha.
Bootstrapped and proud of it
Akanksha started up while she was still studying. She had limited funds, and no knowledge or mentor to guide her. She is still bootstrapped and very proud of the fact that she did it all on her own. Though she is not saying no to funding, all she wants is for her business to be recognised before she walks into a boardroom.
Challenges make you strong
Akanksha comes from an average middle-class household. Brought up by a single mom, she learnt to be independent and strong from a young age. Since her mother’s job involved a lot of travel, she learned to live alone too. Akanksha’s mother has been an integral part of her journey. When she started Bauble Love, it was her mother who invested Rs. 5,000 to help her get her started. “I took almost three months to break the news to her, but she was so positive and supported me.” It was not just the financial support but also the motivation that Akanksha has received from her mother over the years that has kept her gunning towards her goal.
Building a brand
Since she loves branding and marketing, it has worked in her favour. “I love it when people recognise the brand, and a brand is all about – perception, product and executive service.”
Akanksha shares that anything that she herself would not wear or recommend is not put up on the website. The team ensures that each and every product goes through quality checks, so that when the customer receives the love from Bauble Love, the brand recall value is high.
Staying grounded and successful
“Everyone knows something that you don’t,” says Akanksha. Being a leader means not letting the success go to your head. “Working in a startup and running one means you have to leave your ego. You have to treat everyone equally. We all seek respect no matter who we are. We treat our delivery guys with utmost respect, for at the end of the day, they are our representatives and are interacting with the customers.”
In this financial year, Bauble Love’s focus is on collaboration with other brands to build brand value, get domestic vendors on board to retail products for a limited period, venture into more categories, and boost the exclusive collection category. The latter is a project that is close to Akanksha’s heart, and is a 26-month-long project to showcase jewellery from different states within India.
So, as Akanksha gears up for more challenges and riding the big wave of success, she has one important message. “The key ingredient to success is desperation.”