Pivot and Persist: How this woman entrepreneur went from providing HR consulting services to launching a home decor brand
Delhi-based Varuna Chand is one among the many entrepreneurs whose business took a hit due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. She was providing HR consultancy service to startups through her venture VC Consulting after leaving behind a cushy corporate job.
But, losing clients amid the pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Varuna, who used the time to explore her creative interest in interior designing and launched VPop in June 2020.
“When consulting gigs slowed down, it gave me the space to explore my creative side. I have always loved home furnishing and decor, and have decorated houses of friends and family but never had the chance to take it up as an entrepreneurial venture,” says Varuna, an alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Table decor in a box
Varuna, who grew up in a large joint family, says the best part is that there is always a reason for celebration — birthdays, anniversaries, or a family member winning awards or getting promoted.
With this came many opportunities to set and decorate the table during every feast. This is what inspired Varuna to design a theme-based dining set with items like candle stands and napkin rings in a box.
Since its launch, the 11-month-old startup’s theme-based designs like Sunny Side Up, Noir Mustique, and Cupid’s Pick are receiving a lot of love from about 250 customers, all the way from Jammu and Kashmir to Karnataka.
These table decor sets are priced between Rs 3,000 and Rs 7,000 depending on the number of seats.
To start the business, Varuna infused Rs 5 lakh as an initial investment. She says the business has grown self-sufficiently and hopes to break even in the next few months.
According to the entrepreneur, VPop is seeing an increased interest from NRIs, who order through their friends and family members in India.
Operating on a B2C model, the startup’s marketing strategies are focused on advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Empowering rural artisans
With an emphasis on making unique designs, Varuna works with about 15 artisans across Gujarat, Moradabad, and Karnataka to ensure a unique offering.
Staring up in the midst of a pandemic has been a unique experience for the entrepreneur, who says her work as an HR professional helped her reach artisans in rural areas.
"It's been a year since I started up and still have not met any of the vendors. We have established a routine to connect via WhatsApp," she says.
Varuna shares her sketches, explains the details on a video call, and the artisans share their samples that can go back and forth several times for quality check.
However, the artisans have faced challenges in procuring raw materials and sending the samples due to local restrictions and lockdowns.
"In addition to this, the rural artisans were not used to video calling. I have been able to train them on how a sketch needs to be implemented and all the technicalities but the initial hesitation was a challenge," Varuna adds.
What started as a business during the lockdown now holds the promise of more scope and growth, even after COVID-19 settles. As for Varuna, the entrepreneur is waiting for the second wave to recede to launch new designs in the market.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta