This woman entrepreneur uses WhatsApp to popularise her home décor brand
Five years ago, Gunjan Loomba Babbar left her job after more than a decade at a leading airline, as she was uncomfortable with doing night shifts whilst tending to two young children.
She began revisiting her old hobby – painting, creating art and craft and designing clothes. Gunjan wanted to decorate her house with beautiful knick knacks but she found whatever was available in the market to be very expensive.
She started designing home décor pieces with colourful fabric, jute and mirror and found a karigar to turn her creativity into beautiful works of art.
“When my friends saw these, they encouraged me to make more pieces and also look at selling them. A good friend of mine became my first customer. She gave me a pep talk and asked me to take up a stall in an exhibition during the Diwali festival season,” Gunjan recalls.
This was just the beginning. In five years, Gunjan’s brand, Shabari, has found satisfied customers in India and all over the world for its creativity, aesthetic quality and affordability.
Right from trays, coasters, wall art, and frames, Gunjan has a range of over 200 products that she happily customises for her customers, including refurbishing vintage art. Gunjan also began painting on canvas and using resin art in her work.
“After my first exhibition, which was a sell-out, I started getting a large number of orders and realised there was a huge potential in this space. Soon, I set up a small workshop, with a main karigar, and a number of others working under him,” she says.
Gunjan runs Shabari as a one-woman army, taking care of designing, dispatch, marketing and communicating with her customers.
She says WhatsApp is the lifeline of her business. “While I do have a page on Facebook, not many people log in constantly. WhatsApp helps with all aspects of business – communication, marketing, broadcasting and selling,” she adds.
Each product she sells carries a sticker with her number, and most queries come via WhatsApp. The products are priced at as low as Rs 150.
“The platform works like my personal online store. I have over a 1,000 people on different broadcast lists. Since I introduce two new products every week, I collate the information and broadcast it once every eight days,” she says.
Started with just Rs 5,000, Gunjan says the brand has seen a 200 percent growth in the last five years. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw her work relentlessly on new designs and adding more products.
Presently, Shabari caters to corporate houses, weddings, gift shops and festive occasions, apart from regular and customised orders. Most products are multi-purpose and can be used in different ways.
Gunjan’s plan is for Shabari to have its own website along with a payment gateway. With more others coming in, she is also looking at expanding her workshop.
“However, I am not looking at mass production or selling on ecommerce sites. I want to keep my products exclusive and affordable,” she says.
This story is part of a series spotlighting extraordinary, inspiring women from different walks of life for the See Us, Hear Us campaign powered by WhatsApp for International Women’s Day. You can read more such stories from the month-long campaign here.