#Digital Women Hub

Rustic Art’s Surabhi Jaju is bringing scale to small business via online selling

surabhi jaju rustic art, make small strong women in business

Mother daughter duo running eco-friendly hygiene company Rustic Art are using new digital tools to beat COVID challenges. In her own words, Surabhi Jaju talks about growing the business and bridging the physical gap with a thought out digital strategy for online sales.

Why I became an entrepreneur:

I belong to a business family and this is the only way of life I know. I would spend most of my holidays as a kid with my parents or grandparents’ office. I started participating and helping my mom (founder of Rustic Art) in any way I could. I always remember my grand mother’s words, if you can, always use your skills and knowledge to generate employment in your locality.

How I am growing the business:

I look after the business development and marketing. Our primary revenue model is through e-commerce. I am currently implementing various digital marketing campaigns based on the market research. My immediate goal is sustainable growth and brand building. I also conduct workshops and awareness sessions on sustainable menstrual hygiene and use of menstrual cup, post COVID, I have been conducting these sessions online.

How COVID Impacted our business:

The challenges we face are created by us. My mother, Sunita, she formulates products and makes them so unique that it involves a great deal of education and awareness for it. For example, she created a product called Shampoo Butter. Right from placing the product on crowded market places, educating people about how to use and why it is different, it was challenging to actually market this product. Same goes for face wash concentrates or hand wash or menstrual cup. Our intention is to create water less and water efficient products Although challenging and labor intensive, it did help us bring our customers closer to us and our vision for a sustainable future. On personal front, I am also pursuing a PhD and had to juggle both these things together. But it has been complimentary to each other and helped me be better at both of these things.

Small Is Agile:

As a small business, we have an opportunity to listen to the customer and be as innovative as possible.
We could communicate and listen to our customers, get real time feedback, and improve the product. Many customers have turned into good friends and well wishers who always support us and encourage us. Our priority of product launch is almost always based on the customer requirement. For example, during COVID lock down, we received numerous inquiries for a vegetable and fruit wash and multi purpose cleaner. Within 2 months we developed and launched both the product. Same goes for our shampoo butter, we interacted with so many of our regular customers regarding their expectations from the product, who shared their feedback and helped us make this amazing product.

Dealing with Challenges:

We had to cope with increased logistics expense while keeping our product cost constant. There was a surcharge implemented by most logistics companies and it lead to even narrow margins. The returns also increased due to containment zone and other restrictions. Hence our costs also increased. Even with these, we never increased our shipping price.

Some of our raw materials supply was hampered due to various lock down related challenges. Even with these challenges we managed to launch 10 new products since July and have few more in pipeline. Pandemic gave us chance to get closer to our customers via digital media.

Advise to aspiring entrepreneurs:

  1. Enter the market with best quality product at the right price.
  2. Keep developing your skills that build your business.
  3. 3. Listen to your customers; they are your most effective influencers.