This woman entrepreneur is using Instagram to sell home decor and gifting products
Sisters-in-law Priyanka Sharma and Anjali Dawar started The Doodle Hut a year ago. Priyanka (29) says that she would spend her weekends collecting pieces of art and decorating the walls at home along with Anjali (34). After bouncing off some ideas over a cup of coffee one weekend, they decided to design their own wall art and decided to start up.
“This was an opportunity to be creative and entrepreneurial at the same time. The idea was to create customised products that spark the same joy of wall designing in others as well,” says Priyanka, who has a master’s degree in Mass Communication and journalism from Delhi University.
Based in Delhi, The Doodle Hut designs home décor essentials and gifting solutions like string nameplates, door hangings, personalised engraved boards, and DIY string arts, among others. The products are priced between Rs 299 and 3,500, and delivered in four to seven days across India.
(From L to R) Anjali Dawar and Priyanka Sharma, co-founders of The Doodle Hut, and Priyanka's mother Meena Sharma
Thriving on social media
During the first few months of operations, they exhibited at well-known festivals and flea markets in Delhi, including Horn Ok Please. At the three-day long festival, all their products got sold out.
However, the co-founders are making the most of internet platforms. Priyanka and Anjali launched their business on Instagram in August 2019, which also provides a basic insight into customer interest and behaviour and helps nurture leads. They say the days of looking for shops and negotiating for rent and other benefits are long gone. Instagram, along with WhatsApp for Business and Amazon has lent itself very well to perform B2C operations.
Started with an initial investment of Rs 90,000, Priyanka says they are focussed on expanding their product offerings and not actively seeking funds. The entrepreneur claims that each post on Instagram gets sold within two hours, and the company has registered profits twice its initial investment so far.
While arts and crafts is not a novel idea on the internet, they believe that understanding customer’s needs and offering customised gifting products sets them apart from others in the space.
Additionally, “The online gifting industry is one of the contributors to the growth of the Indian ecommerce space. The way I see it, having more players in the design and gifting space only helps boost creativity,” she adds.
The Doodle Hut exhibiting at Horn Ok Please festival in Delhi in 2019.
Hiring and challenges
While they take care of the designing and the craft work, Priyanka’s mother has also joined the business. Her skills in crocheting has helped introduce new products like crochet and macrame wall hangings and plant holders.
A team of eight women, Priyanka shares that while hiring and expanding the team, the candidates do not require prior skills and are trained for 15 days.
On her nieces’ birthday, Priyanka donated a part of The Doodle Hut’s revenue to an NGO for old people in Delhi. She says she saw that most women were aged 50 and above, and knew how to crochet and make Macrame wall hanging. She took the permission from the NGO and engaged these women into the business as well.
Priyanka says that they used to make prompt delivery in the beginning, but the increasing orders over the months has overwhelmed them a little. “But I wouldn’t call it a challenge. We are happy to tap these opportunities,” she says.
While the entrepreneur believes it takes the right attitude and mindset to tackle every difficulty, the success of a business comes from happiness and satisfaction of other parties like your colleagues and customers.
COVID-19, she says, has led to an increase in demand for gifting and hence the lockdown period has kept her team busy.
“People are looking for more meaningful connections and ways to express themselves and we are happy to be catering just that,” she adds.
The way forward
Moving ahead, The Doodle Hut hopes to venture into corporate gifting and adopt sustainable ways of operating in the long term.
Priyanka says she is also grateful for a community of welcoming customers online.
Speaking of her mother under whose name the business is registered, she says, "My mother taught me how to be creative and earn a living, and how those two things can lead to a happy and successful life.”