Combining poetry and handicraft, Delhi-based Kavi Project has found itself a special space on Indian home decor shelves. Cleverly put together, three founders created this company at home and became popular through flea markets and summer melas across India. Now with demand going up, they have got a warehouse and a bigger goal – to bring social and cultural change through products with a message. The team used the pandemic to make a full-fledged pivot to online sales and are now expanding on selling via digital media.
SheThePeople speaks to Madhuri Balodi, who quit her four-year old day job to experiment with crafts. “This Startup is not just a work for me, this is what I love. So, you can say this is my hobby that turned in to a full-time profession. We believe, if you can’t recycle it, reuse it.”
Balodi is a winner of the Digital Women Awards presented by SheThePeople supported by Google and Axis Bank. She has become a champion of women across entrepreneurs. Her journey is an example of how women are leaving traditional job roles and taking up startup life with an embrace. It’s not easy but the builder-attitude is huge and relevant.
Balodi started Kavi Project with two other people Amit and Saumya. And this is how it began she says on at a roadside tea shop. ‘Yaar chal kuchh apna kartein hain…and we started out. I think this happens with everyone but there are a few who make it.”
Madhuri Balodi’s Kavi Project combines poetry with messages that spotlight a good cause.
“It started with a handful of creations in a home studio and a Facebook page to spread the word, and took shape thereon by word of mouth trust and online popularity helped us. We were received with open arms by environmentally conscious consumers, connoisseurs and creators of active cultural groups. Our studio expanded to a bigger warehouse-cum-workshop from a small garage and now we have a 3000 square feet workshop in Noida Industrial Area.“
Lessons I Learnt
The most important lesson, Balodi says she learnt, is to be patient while being passionate about her project. “Initial days are not easy, they come with many challenges and one has to adopt a humble approach and learn. If you cross that phase and stay focused then no one will stop you to achieve your goals.”
Balodi, a former journalist, credits her ability to communicate as a key reason for her success. “I am an ordinary girl who didn’t excel in school life, didn’t get through the best of the colleges, dropped out from the Master’s Degree but I have the power to communicate and connect with people and stand out to make my point whenever it requires.”
Leveraging Digital Media
Kavi Project first sold its products on social media but soon started getting more orders, forcing them to scale up and so they now deal in both online and offline products. “We have our own e-commerce website and tied up with all major portals for selling our products. We have also started selling our products internationally through various resellers or international shopping sites.”
Just as they thought they were taking off across different markets, the pandemic hit and got them back on the drawing board to think of what next. “We learnt various things in lockdown and expanded our online presence since the market has shifted retail base to online shopping medium. To be very frank, our sales doubled after lockdown and online market place has turned out to be a positive sign for us.”
The growth story needed more investment in tools that help online businesses scale up. “Google ads, Youtube can be good for promotions as well as help in increasing the sales if you use these medium to grow your business. We have a third party tie up who looks after Google ads and ad words for us.”
Digital media has opened the universe of consumers to many platforms and Kavi Project is also benefitting from it. The company which is now down to two founders as one quit, has a total of ten people aside of artists who contribute to the product range. Balodi explains that the team needs to be diverse and should understand many different tasks at different levels.
“We have different teams who works in their department. Like I am more in to Poetry and Product ideation. Amit looks after numbers and expansion of the business. Besides that, Naina and Sonali from our team takes care of CRM. Rishi handles all productions and online orders. We have 5 people in packaging team who works on regular basis.”
Looking Ahead to Impacting Change
“As a green enterprise, our main objective is to innovate and produce eco-friendly promotional gifting items which are recycled as well as biodegradable, lifestyle products, home décor, stationery and such other items of sustainable use.”
The small business story is big in India and the Kavi Project too has applied for the startup funding to expand. Here’s wishing them luck with the next phase of their growth story.
This article is part of a series that’s a partnership between SheThePeople and Google.