I had the pleasure of meeting Raji Krishna, one warm afternoon in February, this year, at the Milton Street (Fraser Town, Bangalore) flea market.
She had organised a stall of some absolutely lovely products from her store, Zilpakala.
Raji started Zilpakala in the year 2012, with the idea of helping people have a small "green space" inside their homes. They provide various options of colourful terracotta products, which not only are environment friendly, but also beautifully decorated.
Raji feels that people are becoming more and more aware of the need to be ecologically conscious and to maintain a healthy environment, both at home and their workplace. The Zilpakala products promote both. Also, the garden decor items not only encourage home gardening, but also serve as safe and bio-degradable gifting options.
Zilpakala's target market is individuals, families, businesses and hospitality and medical institutions looking for eco-friendly aesthetic decor.
Raji, who is now 30, confesses that there is no story behind Zilpakala. She was a full-time working mother, who started practicing her painting. One fine day, she just left her job, to follow her passion.
Zilpakala runs out of a small home office kind of set up, in Bangalore. There is a two-member team running around for everything. Raji says that they "also have a small area where we grow our own plants for small quantities."
What gives Raji and her team a "wow" moment?..."Customer appreciation is like fuel for us to create more...The more feedback we get from our customers, the more energetic we get." They also get motivated when regular customers visit their store, expecting new designs. This keeps them ever excited and keeps their creative juices flowing. Also, there are lots of competitors in the market and this is another incentive to keep motivated. Raji says that she meets people who do similar work, at public events and also through the internet.
Some not so happy moments are, when, in Raji's words, "We deal with plants which are sensitive and need TLC : at times they die for whatever reason. We try to replant them, because we do not want our planters to be kept empty." Another challenge that they face, is the designing of planters. At times, it is difficult to implement the designs that a customer might have in mind.
Given that Zilpakala is a start up with a small team of two, we asked Raji what steps she had taken to ensure the continuity of Zilpakala. Raji confirms that they are doing this by adding new members to the staff, who are carefully vetted and trained to handle customers with the required product knowledge. However, at this point in time, there are no co-founders. She is also not planning on divesting / branching out at this point in time.
Raji's passion for what she is doing, is expressed so beautifully...when we ask her what her favourite saying is, she says, "I am colour blind...because I see only one colour...that is...GREEN."
Stories by M.E.G. Robinson