Entrepreneurs across India used the pandemic to rethink and shift their business strategy. We speak to three women entrepreneurs who challenged the impact of the pandemic and grew into stronger initiatives.
Chindu Treasa Benny, Kalavai
Kalavai is a startup into handcrafted gifts from eco-friendly things. From home decor to jewellery the small business is focussed on being sustainable. “Our entire collections so far are made with dried natural flowers preserved in resin . The product categories include accessories (necklace, bracelets, rings etc) and home decor such as multipurpose teak wood tray and natural flower preserved paperweight made in collaboration with artisans in Channapatna. Benny says in future she would like to associate with other artisans across the country to bring new dimensions to her brand, launching other product ranges and thereby making sustainability a lifestyle.
“It was challenging initially, finding out karigars who can bring up the quality I required.” Since travelling was limited due to COVID coordinating with craftsmen was really difficult. She also was hit by changed in algorithms. But soon enough Benny set up her own site, decoupling from being a social media driven business.
Now she checks her audiences and analyses their patterns in a deep insightful way. “Google analytics currently I am using, and it helped me to track no of users at a specific time, the audience . And also it helped to analyse their location from where they are viewing.”
As her brand grows, Benny will be planning a protracted advertising strategy with keywords.
Shweta Dalmia, Climapreneur
“I share stories, experiences and learnings of Entrepreneurs driving Climate Action.” Storytelling is central to entrepreneurship in the new world, says Dalmia who started talking about these issues when no one else was. “We share with the world how climate action adds meaning and purpose to life. My goal is to reach to a larger audience, to collaborate, to partner with more and more business , individuals, government bodies weaving conversations around Meaningful Climate Action.”
As for most content spaces, staying specific is very useful and it helps navigate complexities. “We are working in a niche category. A category that is still not completely defined.” But Dalmia sees big potential. She is having conversations few are having in India. At times she was advised to drop her idea but Dalmia persisted. “Some people told me this is something you should do part time because you can never earn money with it. This is just a hobby. It won’t work. So yes, it was a challenge.”
Dalmia’s courage to continue is commendable. She is now building her voice and brand on audio, which is a strong and growing market for content. “One of the prominent tools we have used is Google Podcast Manager. It has enabled us to reach to a larger audience.”
Even as Dalmia experiments with new business models, she says, using new tools is central to her work routine. “That has definitely paid off.”
Gayatri Gandhi, Joy Factory
She gets into action when people are tired of cluttered homes and spaces. “At Joy Factory, we provide decluttering and organising services based on the KonMari Method and our home-grown approach,” says Gandhi.
“These include sessions customised to the clients’ needs and requirements vis-à-vis the space they are operating in.” These sessions vary from 3-5 hours at a time depending on the project’s requirement. Along with this, Gandhi has been conducting workshops – both online and offline for individuals as well as corporates. “We are also designing KonMari inspired closets. We have some exciting prospects in the pipeline which include customised merchandise, a training academy, organising products and a whole lot more.”
Challenges in Gandhi’s journey have been many. From regular start-up challenges like not having funds, multi-tasking, explaining this concept to clients, to trying to create a business model. “Many times, when I explained to people that I was a certified KonMari consultant, and that I would help them declutter and organise so they replied saying ‘oh! toh aap safai karengi!’”
However, her biggest challenge was that my friends and extended family not only questioned this business idea but went a step ahead and discouraged me at every step saying ‘this won’t work / no one will pay for a service like this / you should think of doing something else’.
“But this challenge, now looking back, has also became my greatest learning. The world is full of people who are waiting to discourage you or will not see your progress.”
She says the naysayers pushed her to experiment even more. As a business that needs more and more local growth, Gandhi is turning to listing on Google so she can get more business. Since her concept is new, Gandhi is constantly tinkering to make incremental changes based on customer feedback.
Here’s wishing these entrepreneurs a great pivot and success with all these unique ideas.
This article is in partnership with Google