For a nascent entrepreneurship business, that’s less than a year old, THE SAREE SOIREE is on the right track. The Saree Soiree as the name suggests, is a completely online saree shopee , that stocks regular wear and designer Sarees side by side albeit virtually , the USP of this shopee being that it’s a one- stop -online shop for sarees from all parts of India , whether Bandhini sarees from Rajasthan, Khesh sarees from West Bengal , Kanjeevaram sarees from Tamil Nadu or Soft Kashmiri silk sarees from up North.
For Founder and Sole Proprietor of The Saree Soiree, Rashmi Pai-Prabhu , it a dream she come true. Starting a business while leaving behind a cushy income job of being a Japanese language translator at HCL technologies was scary alright, but the excitement and freedom that went with a business venture took precedence. It gave her the flexibility of working right out of home or of ‘hardly working at all’ once the set up was in place and pretty much ran itself. Rashmi has been delighted to see her little venture go on from strength to strength every month. In fact , once she saw it as a viable business , she shared her story with us , so as to help other folks out there, since she believed it was such a simple business idea that anyone who had something basic as just a ‘ smartphone ’could take up .
Yes, you heard that right, The Saree Soiree , the brain child of Rashmi Pai-Prabhu, is run only on a smart phone, on WhatsApp and Facebook and Yahoo mail if need be. A ‘zero’ inventory and market place model which means that there is no loss and only profit from the word go. Her Business Model is so simple yet so effective. Rashmi serves as a liaison between the numerous manufacturer- suppliers located in different corners of India and the customer, she serves as the vital link that does the marketing and publicity for the manufacturer to help reach his product via photos to the varied customer base in India. Once the customer places the order for a saree, she liaisons with the supplier, to have the saree shipped directly to the customer, serving merely as the go-in-between while pocketing a neat commission on the sale.
While on customer base, Rashmi told us something rather interesting- the idea of zeroing in on this particular saree business was because of its prospective customer base, that being every woman in India, who at a given point in time has at least ‘one’ saree in her wardrobe and hence that ‘every woman in India ‘was seen by Rashmi as a ‘prospective customer’. As for marketing, she uses Facebook and carefully cultivated WhatsApp groups. The biggest challenge has been to get good suppliers with quality sarees and competitive prices. Rashmi tells us that she has personally bought from the said suppliers in a trial run before adding them to her widening database. Pricing also had to be carefully worked out, where getting the range straight from the manufacturer worked, though hunting for that genuine supplier did take a while. It also took about 3- 6 months to build a trusting customer base and start getting repeat orders.
The mantras of success are simple she says ‘Always be online for your customer she says, for, a constant online presence establishes trust. Also, giving a quick response and securing the order while the interest level of the customer sustains are of prime importance. ‘It’s also important to be honest with the customer. If there is going to be a delay in shipment always inform and apologize. People understand logistics issues but need to be appraised of the situation at all times’.’ Look at quality rather than the bottom line ‘not only in the beginning but at all times.’ Never ever attempt to diversify the product range. You lose focus and end up confused.’ ‘Never give up, there are ups and downs in most businesses, and just when you think of giving up, there is yet another Indian festival and sales pick up all over again’ laughs Rashmi.
On a serious note, in this day and age with commute becoming an increasing impossibility, with the ever escalating cost, the need for cushion income, with kids demanding more time and parental attention or just the need for a little bit of financial independence, one may need to try options other than the regular 9-5. A small scale business may then be the way to go.
For those of you who need more tips and help, reach out to Rashmi Pai- Prabhu via her id of the same name or her business Facebook page THE SAREE SOIREE https://www.facebook.com/thesareesoiree/ or WhatsApp her on 9845713453. Who knows, this might be your true calling.