For Rohini Vijayan's paper bag brand Eco Kraft, third time’s the charm
Rohini Vijayan was inspired to manufacture paper bags when she saw a person walking on the road with one. After two businesses that she had tried her hands at earlier didn’t work out, the third time was the charm in her career as an entrepreneur.
An engineer by education, Rohini wanted to do something from home after becoming a mother. Soon, enough she launched Eco Kraft in 2001 and started manufacturing paper bags at home with just one person for help.
Stepping stones to success
In 2003, she got her first big order. “I had approached a company located near my house. The manager asked me to manufacture 30,000 paper bags in 90 days. Back then, I was making just 10 bags a day. However, I managed to complete the order,” says a proud Rohini.
“It was all trial and error and I learnt a lot on the job,” says the 48-year-old entrepreneur. Over the next few years, she went on to open a retail unit and proprietary unit and later even put up stalls in fairs. By 2019-20, Eco Kraft’s annual revenue had touched Rs 1.3 crore. She is now operating with a team of 10 full-time employees, and a part-time staff as well.
Her business grew as she went on to add more big names to her clientele and scaled up production after buying machinery. With the new machine, she could manufacture around 3 lakh bags per month.
As the COVID-19 pandemic cast its shadow on businesses across the country, Rohini says that Eco Kraft too was affected. “Brands stopped giving us orders, as they already had stocks of bags and nobody was going to stores,” she adds. The labourers she had hired went back home during the lockdowns. Rohini says that the pandemic also affected her approach towards sales. Earlier, she used to understand the customer's needs by determining what the bag was supposed to carry. “Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I simply ask them 'what is your budget?',” she adds.
Ready for a new journey
While chalking out her growth plans, Rohini feels that a low production capacity due to shortage of labour and personnel problems are limiting the business’ expansion. In the future, she wants Eco Kraft to evolve as a one-stop shop for all packaging solutions. “To achieve these goals, I have to grow. I need money to grow and for that my revenue has to increase,” she says. The entrepreneur says that with her participation in GAME’s Xcelerator Bangalore programme, she hopes to bridge the gap between her resources and goals. The programme has been especially launched for women entrepreneurs based out of Bengaluru to help them succeed by offering them a chance to connect with various stakeholders and mentoring sessions.
“I am interested in this programme as I want to increase my revenue, to learn and grow,” says Rohini while signing off.
Xcelerator Bangalore aims at accelerating the growth of women-owned, non-IT businesses in Bengaluru. It provides support to the women entrepreneurs to learn, collaborate and network with various stakeholders through a multitude of workshops, learning and mentoring sessions. This series highlights the work of 24 women entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first cohort of the Xcelerator Bangalore programme.