How this woman entrepreneur is using WhatsApp to scale her upcycled clothing brand
In 2017, Bhavini N Parikh started Bunko Junko, a sustainable brand that repurposes pre-consumed textile waste to create fashion products for everyday use. She is among a growing number of women entrepreneurs who are leveraging the power of social media, to run their businesses efficiently and seamlessly.The young entrepreneur is no stranger to multi-tasking. Bhavini has started a toy library, hosted cookery and crafts classes on a Gujarati television channel, and is always seeking new ways to explore her creativity.
As part of her entrepreneurial journey, Bhavini has worked with over a 1,000 women from socio-economically challenged groups to complete textile surface ornamentation and embroidery work orders for large brands like Shoppers Stop and AND Fashion.
She has also started her own garment manufacturing unit, BN Fashion, along with her daughter, Captain Jill Parikh, and Dr Shikha Gandhi, a medical practitioner with a deep interest in sustainable fashion. “We were making garments for big brands. And, over time, we noticed that there was a lot of fabric waste on the production floor, which ended up in landfills. That got me thinking and I began researching sustainable, ethical fashion.”
Fashion with a conscience
Bunko Junko also has a strong focus on women’s empowerment. Bhavini continues to work with more than 3,000 women from rural areas who do the stitching and tailoring for the brand. .
The brand sells upcycled garments including women’s wear such as kurtas, dresses, and jackets; home furnishings such as rugs, bedspreads, and wall hangings’ and accessories such as laptop bags, clutches, earrings, and bangles.
A seamless platform
Bunko Junko has been using WhatsApp in their daily operations for more than four years now.
Bhavini explains: “Customers today want to see all the options before making a decision. I started sharing the pictures of our pieces through WhatsApp to interested customers. This not only helped in conversion, but also to get feedback.”
Switching over to WhatsApp Business has offered additional benefits. “Today, with the Business account, in addition to the regular communication, I also send approvals. The digital record serves as proof of approval, and helps to speed up operations on the shop floor,” she says.
Bhavini also uses WhatsApp to broadcast information about exhibitions, workshops, and sales. She claims that “sales have rocketed by 80 percent after she started using WhatsApp”.
In addition to manufacturing and selling upcycled garments, accessories and home furnishings, Bunko Junko also takes customised orders for individuals and businesses.
“Our experience at Bunko Junko has shown that upcycling of textile waste is not only good for the environment, but can also be a means to contribute to socio-economic upliftment of communities. And, that’s why we believe sustainability isn’t a next-generation job or just a trend. For us, it’s a mission. It’s our future,” Bhavini says.
Edited by Diya Koshy George