EDITIONS

How did I decide to disrupt the male-dominated rug industry with my E-commerce venture?

It is so crucial to shatter the glass-ceiling and bridge the gender-gap which is what prompted me to create Rugs and Beyond- an online venture selling "One of a Kind" handmade rugs to customers around the world while empowering local weavers and craftsmen in Rural India.

Sakshi Talwar
10th Jun 2018
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With the influx of technology and with a plethora of ideas spewing up on a daily basis, Start-up has literally become a buzzword. However, the key lies in execution and implementation. We often hear about a lot of men making their mark in the Startup world and building Unicorns. For instance, the founder of Amazon, Uber, Facebook, and Apple are all men. 

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All these four companies literally dominate our lives every single day, in some form or the other. But how often do we hear about women entrepreneurs who are carving their own niche and disrupting different businesses and shattering the glass-ceiling? As Gandhi famously said, "Be the Change, if you want to see one", this thought was indelibly etched in my mind. 

Being inspired by father's inspirational story, entrepreneurship has always been on my mind since I was a kid. I still recall the times during my childhood, when my father would travel overseas for work, he would delegate some responsibilities to me at work which provided me a sense of "being in-charge". He has literally been a catalyst in helping me achieve and pursue my and aspirations. 

Having lived in New York and Los Angeles after my MBA, I was amazed to see large Rug stores that are being run since time immemorial and selling "made in India" high-end rugs at exorbitant prices. Being a rug enthusiast and having grown up with fine textiles, my penchant to disrupt the Rug Industry was palpable. 

I wanted to disrupt the way we look at expensive handmade rugs and carpets which led to the inception of Rugs and Beyond which is an E-commerce company selling exclusive hand-crafted rugs and carpets to customer globally. The main aim is to empower local weavers and artisans in Rural India. I started this venture with the main aim to empower local weavers and craftsmen. 

I still recall the time when I was first starting out, a lot of eyebrows were raised. There were a lot of naysayers and everyone wondered, what is this young lady doing in a male-dominated industry. I literally turned a deaf ear to all the background noise and did what I wanted to.  

One of Rugs and Beyond's weavers in Rural India

One of Rugs and Beyond's weavers in Rural India

At first we had named our company as Affordablerugs.com, however that kind of signified that we are selling low-end, machine-made rugs wherein it's just the opposite. We didn't want to come across as a cheap, discounted rug store. 

We are synonymous with selling"One of a Kind" handmade rugs which are exclusive and high-end. It's not like a Red T-Shirt where 5 of the same kind are readily available. Each rug is only available in one single piece and that's where the exclusivity of the rug lies which is one of our USP's. 

Hence, we came up with Rugs and Beyond wherein our focus shall always be selling Quality Rugs and we would like to expand into other related product categories like Fine Art, decorative accents etc. at some point in the near future. Rugs and Beyond were recently felicitated for being the Most Creative Disruptor Company in the E-Commerce industry by ShethePeople and Facebook India. 

Rugs and Beyond awarded as the Most Creative Disruptor in the E-commerce Industry

Rugs and Beyond awarded as the Most Creative Disruptor in the E-commerce Industry

Usually, handmade carpets and exclusive rugs are perceived to be expensive and luxurious. I wanted to change this perception in the minds of the consumers by selling Luxury carpets at affordable prices. Rugs and Beyond has a wide variety of beautiful Kashmir Silk Carpets, Indian woolen rugs, modern rugs for a contemporary home decor along with Kilims, Afghans and Tribal rugs for a Bohemian Home Decor. The intricate craftsmanship with which each Rug is hand woven is stellar and unparalleled. To make a single carpet, it takes a minimum of 3-8 months depending on a variety of factors like colour, design, size, pattern, material, knots per square inch etc. To educate customers about the same, I often hold seminars and educational Rug talks. I still recall our early days, when every body used to question us wondering that who is going to buy expensive Rugs Online without touching and feeling it? However, we are now happy to report that so far we have shipped rugs to customers in USA, UK, France, Australia, Greece, Dubai etc. including far-flung countries like Iceland, Brunei and Kuwait. I staunchly believe that Sky is the limit and we are on the right track to disrupt a multi-million dollar industry.

I was recently named as "One of the Top 8 Women Entrepreneurs disrupting the Digital Space" by Your Story. I vehemently believe that there is no elevator to success and one must take the staircase. Its my passion for the art of carpet making that turned Rugs and Beyond into a business.I still recall after my MBA in the U.S, I took up a 9-5 job in a Finance company in New York and quit it in a short span of time. Why waste time in doing something that you are not passionate about? Life is too short for mediocre things. Plus, I don't think I am cut to work in a cubicle all day. I enjoy doing stuff which is more on the creative side. This prompted me to undertake an Interior Design stint at one of the best design schools- Parsons, The New School for Design, New York.

With some of our Weavers kids in Rural India

With some of our Weavers kids in Rural India

While I continue this magic carpet ride, my father is certainly one of the biggest motivating factors in my life who has instilled an indomitable spirit of "Never Give Up". I still recall the time when we were first starting out and there were a lot of teething issues and I was ready to give it up all and move back to the U.S. However, I literally took things in my hand, enrolled myself in digital marketing classes, was instrumental in the development of our E-commerce venture in terms of design, layout and technicalities and then started hiring people for the same. With "World against Child Labour Day" around the corner,we are also coming up with a multitude of programs that shall be a catalyst in empowering local weavers and craftsmen in Northern Rural India while supporting the weavers Children education. 

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Sakshi Talwar
Sakshi is the Co-Founder/CEO of Rugs and Beyond; an online venture for exclusive,"One of a Kind" handmade carpets and home décor empowering local weavers and skilled craftsmen in villages in Northern India. Rugs and Beyond has gained immense popularity amongst users in India and worldwide due to its niche handcrafted products made with a social conscience and was also awarded for being the most"Creative Disruptor" in the Home Decor Industry by ShethePeople & Facebook India. It was also recognized for being one of the most innovative E-tailer in the industry by Entrepreneur. Sakshi regularly writes for various online publications like Huffington Post, Times of India , Thrive Global and has recently been written about in The New York Times, Business Standard, Entrepreneur, YourStory etc. Sakshi recently conducted a workshop primer on “Discovering and following your true passion” at an event organized by Ted Talks in New Delhi. She is a frequent speaker at Start-up events and is also a mentor at Sheroes- a women based platform for empowering female professionals and entrepreneurs. Her passion towards uplifting women in business led to the felicitation of being "An Iconic woman contributing for a better tomorrow" by WEF. An entrepreneur by profession and an artist by passion, Sakshi also paints modern contemporary art pieces and recently held her art exhibition in New Delhi with the sole aim to donate a part of the proceeds to the lesser--privileged children. Her work can also be seen in Art Galleries in Los Angeles and London. She is an active member of FICCI, which is India’s largest apex business organization in India. Sakshi holds an MBA (Finance) from Bryant University, Rhode Island, an interior design specialization from Parsons, New York and a course in International business strategy from London School of Economics and Political Sciences. Her undergrad is a Double Major in Accounting and Finance. She is currently working on her debut book, titled, “Scientific Reasoning and Methodology to get out of your comfort zone.”

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Authors
Sakshi Talwar
Sakshi is the Co-Founder/CEO of Rugs and Beyond; an online venture for exclusive,"One of a Kind" handmade carpets and home décor empowering local weavers and skilled craftsmen in villages in Northern India. Rugs and Beyond has gained immense popularity amongst users in India and worldwide due to its niche handcrafted products made with a social conscience and was also awarded for being the most"Creative Disruptor" in the Home Decor Industry by ShethePeople & Facebook India. It was also recognized for being one of the most innovative E-tailer in the industry by Entrepreneur. Sakshi regularly writes for various online publications like Huffington Post, Times of India , Thrive Global and has recently been written about in The New York Times, Business Standard, Entrepreneur, YourStory etc. Sakshi recently conducted a workshop primer on “Discovering and following your true passion” at an event organized by Ted Talks in New Delhi. She is a frequent speaker at Start-up events and is also a mentor at Sheroes- a women based platform for empowering female professionals and entrepreneurs. Her passion towards uplifting women in business led to the felicitation of being "An Iconic woman contributing for a better tomorrow" by WEF. An entrepreneur by profession and an artist by passion, Sakshi also paints modern contemporary art pieces and recently held her art exhibition in New Delhi with the sole aim to donate a part of the proceeds to the lesser--privileged children. Her work can also be seen in Art Galleries in Los Angeles and London. She is an active member of FICCI, which is India’s largest apex business organization in India. Sakshi holds an MBA (Finance) from Bryant University, Rhode Island, an interior design specialization from Parsons, New York and a course in International business strategy from London School of Economics and Political Sciences. Her undergrad is a Double Major in Accounting and Finance. She is currently working on her debut book, titled, “Scientific Reasoning and Methodology to get out of your comfort zone.”

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