Every Entrepreneur's journey is like climbing Everest in flip flops....! and mine is no different!
Armed with a degree from NIFT(National Institute of fashion Technology, New Delhi), with specialization in Leather technology , having worked with the best of Leather export and domestic brands and encouraged by friends and well wishers , I decided to launch my own corporate gifting company with a partner in 2005! The orders poured in as our competitors was unorganized players from Dharavi . Here we were , two corporate people who understood design, timely deliveries, gave a competitive price to the clients and spared the clients the hassle of dealing with the unorganized leather industry.But dependence of getting the products manufactured from Dharavi took a toll after the first year as order began to rise and deadlines were missed . It cost us our clients followed by a break up with my business partner.
The failed corporate gifts business taught me three things..better to go solo , have control on manufacturing and do what you are best at!I realized Retail was booming..Shoppers stop, Pantaloon, Big Bazaar was at its peak and needed organized manufacturers and designers who had a pulse on the booming retail market . I struck gold and quickly became the blue eyed vendor for accessories for Big Bazaar and Pantaloon with my designs and ability to turn out huge quantities. I set up a network of around 50 small karigars who would quickly churn out the volumes. Things were moving at lightening speed. I was operating from my home with only my cooks son (my first employee) to help me carry samples to Big Bazaar and Pantaloons office and to the vendors place.The need arose to take up a small 150 sqft office, register my proprietorship business and hire 2 more office boys. We were churning out 8000 bags a month for Big Bazaar. My family pitched in...my husband would roll up his sleeves after he came back from work and my sister would babysit by one year old son so that we could bar-code, tag and pack 1000 bags a night!!!
In 2008, there was a huge dearth of branded handbags and footwear in a price point which would appeal to teenagers and young women. With this target in mind , I launched my brand MURCIA , which was inspired by my travels and the times we lived in. There was no brand doing quirky and bright bags and the brand became popular. I was soon retailing through 40 stores of Reliance footprints and 5 of Big Megamart stores. Encouraged by the success of MURCIA , we launched three other brands for Men's footwear, kids footwear and a value brand for bags and footwear!That was the maverick in me and on hindsight a very bad business decision.
In three years we moved to a bigger space , hired more skilled and professional people and acquired more clients.We were on a roll.
Then came my nemesis..a corporate gift order again in crores for a very well known apparel brand. But the middle men turned truants and I was left with huge debts, legal tangles and a business which had to be started from scratch and my second son on the way!!Friends and family rallied behind me.I got help from the most unexpected business associates, former clients and most of all ,my family became my pillar of strength.But we had to shut the office for a month. My vendors became jittery and came knocking at my home for their monies and the question was to give it all up or start fresh!!!
My family backed my decision to start over and I got an excellent mentor who helped me strategize my business. We borrowed from friends and family , infused some funds, paid off some vendors and used my goodwill to garner orders from clients and support from other vendors who were willing to wait for their monies. Their faith in me spurred me on.But it was time to change my business strategy .
The online stories had just begun in 2012. Myntra and Flipkart were launched that year and Myntra approached me to sell my Brand Murcia on their portal at a time when they were still doing customized T shirts!!!. I was already retailing from Ebay.com and understood the power of E-tailing, though naysayers were more those days than the believers.
The first mover advantage worked for me and soon my brand was firmly entrenched on all the E-tailing portals.. 99labels, Myntra, Flipkart, Fashionandyou and Jabong. In 2015, I set up my own manufacturing unit and in 2016 , we received the award for the best manufacturing unit in the micro industry sector from the Govt. of Maharashtra.
Murcia is today E-tailing its collection of designer women's and men's bags and footwear from all the domestic online portals like Amazon, Limeroad, Myntra, Flipkart, Snapdeal , Craftsvilla etc. We are also manufacturing handbags and footwear for the in-house brands for E-tailers as well as offline Retailers like Arvind Mills and Reliance.We have export orders from international design houses and retailers.
Today we are a Pvt. ltd company which is funded and on its way to capture the international accessory market .We have recently launched our own E-com portal (www.murciafashion.com) and have more than 17000 fans on our Facebook page and equal number of Murcia loyalists.
Though we are still in the process of climbing Mt . Everest ....The ups and downs have definately taught me the most valuable lessons of constantly evolving and innovating not only your product but also your business strategy. Maintaining good business relations with vendors and clients alike and hiring honest and hardworking people rather than over smart and opportunistic people pay off in the longer run(my views gathered from my experience entirely!).Take advise from people who have ' been there done that' rather than advisers who have never taken the plunge themselves!!!A good mentor goes a long way in building a successful business and always keep your family close!!!
However, nothing stops me from taking risks and being a maverick business women...That I feel is the essence of an entrepreneur and keeps your spirit and passion alive!!!