This eco-friendly homeware brand supplies to Taj hotels, Adani Group, Chumbak
Pratima Sinha and Somya Suresh's shared love for design led them to start up their own range of wood homeware products made by local artisans. Their startup, Nurture India, now supplies to the Taj Group of hotels, The Bombay Store, and Chumbak, among others.
As climate change and its impact become more visible with each passing day, people are increasingly looking to make a wiser choice as consumer, leading to a rather thriving market for everything eco-friendly.
Going green may be the new ‘woke’ culture, at least in India, as an international lifestyle survey conducted by Euromonitor shows that 67 percent of shoppers are influenced by eco-friendly brands, and another 66 percent percent look for natural and organic components.
Despite a ‘massive consumption shift towards environmental consciousness and sustainability’, childhood friends Pratima Sinha and Somya Suresh noted that only a few homeware brands catered to this demand and thus founded Nurture India in February 2018.
According to them, “Most existing homeware products were ceramic, glass or metal, and plastic. And most of these materials end up in the landfill and take years to decompose. We thought, with the right kind of awareness, we can fill the gap in the market.”
Focussed on tableware products, the startup works with regional artisans across three states, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, to design and manufacture wooden trays, coasters, napkin holders, and ‘anything that can be put on a table’.
Taking the entrepreneurial plunge
Somya, a journalism graduate from St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, was then working as a fashion editor at POPxo. Pratima who had completed her master’s from SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, was a strategy consultant with KPMG. However, the duo connected best over their shared interest in design culture.
They also took part in a curated art exhibition in 2013 as college students. The idea was to break into the space of viewing art, and to connect with amateur artists. The two had been toying with the idea to design and start up for years.
Looking to convert their ideas into a sustainable business model, the duo took a sabbatical from their jobs to dedicate their time to research about traditional Indian handicrafts. They read and spent a month visiting craft clusters in West Bengal and Karnataka to understand the crafts and artisans better.
“We wanted to see what kind of crafts and wood were available, how big the craftsmen community was, and more importantly, if it could be a scalable business. Once we were convinced, we quit our jobs and started designing our first collection with local artisans,” Pratima shares.
Launching their collection at an exhibition in greater Noida in August 2018, the startup gained its first big client, Adani Group, followed by their first international order to the UK.
The co-founders says it has been an uphill journey since then. While they supply to the likes of the chain of Taj Hotels, The Bombay Store, and Hamilton Housewares, Chumbak was the quickest one to get onboard as a client.
“One of the founders of Chumbak was a former employee of KPMG. I remember receiving an email, when I was working there, congratulating them for raising funds. It inspired me to take the plunge and I mentioned it while reaching out to Chumbak. And they responded the same day,” Pratima shares.
Now exporting to various geographies such as the US, the UAE, Spain, the UK, and Canada and primarily known as a B2B brand, the duo is now looking to build the brand by retailing on various ecommerce markets.
Working with artisans
At the same time, designing and manufacturing in-house through its network of artisans, spread across three states, came with different challenges. They took care of every minute detail, beginning with identifying scalable craft forms to managing artisans and ensuring quality, which includes looking after treatment and processing of raw material.
“At the same time, we make sure to provide fair wages and working conditions for the artisans as well,” they add.
To ensure smooth communication among the artisans, the company has hired agents in cities who can coordinate with them for supplies of finished products and do quality checks. .
The duo infused an initial funding of 15 lakh. In the financial year 2019-2020, they have clocked close to Rs 70 lakh in revenue, after an approximate loss of around Rs 15 lakh due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While they say that the life of an entrepreneur comes with a challenge every day, they never run short of motivation to keep them going.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)