During special occasions or regular visits, we often gift people with bouquets, boxes of chocolate, or sweets. Impersonal or generic gifts such as these do not stay in people’s memories for long. Further, these presents come wrapped in plastic and are detrimental to the environment.
Budding entrepreneur Geetha G (42) observed this when she was engaged in community work, and decided to do something about it.
She realised that bouquets were the main culprit because boxes could be reused. “Flowers come wrapped in plastic, creating additional burden on the growing garbage menace in metropolitan cities,” she says. “I wanted to start a gifting business which solved the issue of waste generation due to the bouquet market.”
In 2016, she invested Rs 1 lakh to launch Eco-Gifts, a Bengaluru-based business, which makes bouquets from plants that grow in baskets and pots, and purify the air. The baskets made by the bootstrapped company are made of natural bamboo that decompose after the plant dies, making these gifts eco-friendly.
Explaining the concept, Geetha says, “The bouquets are made in various designs and use materials such as wine glass, fishbowl terrarium, bamboo baskets, etc. This makes them more attractive, and the recipient of the gift feels special. The aesthetics of these eco-gifts help consumers become responsible and also provides a market for environmentally-sensitive gifts.”
In the past year, Eco-Gifts clocked a turnover of Rs 2 lakh. The team also attended composting workshops and registered the business under MSME Udyog Aadhar. But there is still much to be done.
Geetha believes her products stand firmly as an innovation that can potentially replace bouquets entirely. “The potential market size is huge, compared to our current size. People have considered our products as innovative and different from routine plant-based gifts,” she explains. “To tap into the larger market, we need to focus on upscaling the business in terms of overall growth, promotions and continuous improvements,” she adds.
For setting up a business in this sector and then taking it a step further, Geetha believes patience is an important factor. She says, “First, it’s critical to have training and be patient during work. This can lead to satisfaction, good income, and a good standard of living. It is also important to consider the impact on the environment and make products, which are easily decomposable and do not add to landfills.”
Eco-gifts places emphasis on working alongside the government to promote environmentally-friendly practices. “The government needs to promote businesses that help in air purification through everyday means. More needs to be done to introduce products that do not cause pollution at the end of their lifespans,” Geetha says. “We need financial support to grow in the markets as well as to help in gaining recognition and reputation in society.”
Her dream is to have branches all over India to sell her products. “If one is passionate enough to do something, it brings the best out of them. My love for plants and my passion to contribute towards society helped me come up with such a product. It will also help take me forward as well. People love my eco-gifts, and thus I was able to upscale it from a hobby to a business,” she says.
(This story is published in partnership with the MSME Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)