How did I become an Entrepreneur? What led me to follow my passion? How was my journey? What were my challenges? Why did I decide to part ways?
I have tried to answer all your questions in this blog. If you are someone who wishes to start her own venture or maybe make some bucks from your passion, I hope reading this blog brings in some perspective. And if it does. Dont forget to comment and share with me 🙂
I hail from a simple family with Ex Army Officer as my dad and a Mom who decided that her kids were her full time job. This is important to know for many who thought I came from a business class family or received any help in any way from my family apart from sheer encouragement and support in my journey to prove myself.
Though I was always inclined towards a creative line there was not enough options and consultation to discover the right course or education. During my B.com when my parent’s saw me distressed not enjoying what I was doing I was given a chance to prepare and appear for NIFT. But fashion was not my thing and I realized it later of course when I didn’t make it. I went ahead and completed my MBA in marketing from Symbiosis Pune in 2007 and then joined a high paying job at a leading IT MNC. It was but the natural flow of things. I had never thought I would be doing anything more than a corporate job. 4 years into the Job and I realized I wasn’t cut for the hardcore politics and follow the lead. Plus IT stopped interesting me I guess. I think it was around the same time things changed and for good.
I have been passionate about craft ever since I was a kid. While we always had an Archie’s store in the vicinity to pick up cards for special occasions, it did not allow us to customize it beyond a certain point. And I was always keen on creating a hand-made card with customized messaging, as I always believe it adds that additional human element to the entire process of gifting. While I loved everything to do with paper craft, people often mixed it up with a more widely known form of paper art, which is Origami. However, the fundamental difference between the two is that the traditional concept of Origami uses only one piece of paper to create shapes without the use of any scissors or glue. However, paper craft gives you a larger room to experiment by deploying various techniques on paper or card as the primary artistic medium for creating three dimensional objects as well.
As a papercraft artist I used various kinds of craft supplies and tools to create more professional looking handmade cards, scrapbooks, altered items, home décor which gives my work a fun and free-spirited feel.
I made handmade invites, favour boxes, 2D/3D greeting cards, quilled paper art, scrapbooks for all occasions, altered arts like Book ends, wall hangings and home décor products out of paper and related products. Click here to see my work – http://www.craftingqueen.in/
What was the big idea behind starting Lulupu.com? Was there something that inspired me to do this?
In 2009, I relocated to Bangalore for an assignment. Staying away from home with not too many friends around, I decided to use my free time to explore my favourite hobby that I relished as a child – hand-made greeting cards. My mother’s birthday was approaching and I decided to visit a stationary shop to source the raw material. That’s when I spotted the colourful Quilling strips and brought a few of them. I navigated through a few DIY videos on YouTube to understand the technique better. As time progressed, I became extremely addicted to this form of paper craft and simultaneously started exploring other forms as well. I began a blog called www.craftingqueen.in and kept updating it with my latest work and this gave me an opportunity to interact with other paper crafters not just in India, but across the globe. While the basic material was available in India, for moving to the next level most of the tools and material had to be sourced from abroad. I saw a lot of crafters like me relying on their friends and relatives to get them these products while returning from a trip to United States. It took me a lot of patience to source products through this channel. This is when I decided to create an online store which will give crafters across India an opportunity to purchase these products locally. Initially I used a blog called www.craftignqueenstore.blogspot.in to sell the products. Looking at the traffic and the demand I decided to go the ecommerce way and Lulupu.com was born on March 1st, 2012.
At this point I would like to throw light on one of the segments of Lulupu.com – The Design Team. This special team comprised of talented crafter across the country, who focus on providing a platform to build a community of like-minded crafters. To be a part of this team, a crafter had to qualify the set of filters or parameters decided by us.
Here is our blog that was build with so much love- BLOG
What does one require to set up a business?
Firstly, it is not a rocket science that if you set up a business which you are extremely passionate about, it works to your advantage as you do not see it as a purely money minting venture. In my case, my knowledge and passion gave me the ability to guide and help beginners and amateurs in paper craft over and above the products specifications and pricing.
Secondly, it is extremely important to register your business and have all the mandatory licenses / permissions. This could be for import/export, trademark or even the GST process. It ensures that your customers are not getting cheated and are engaging with a brand which is ethical and abides by laws of the country.
Thirdly, it is important to know the pulse of your customers and keep a track of changing trends in your industry. Be on your toes!!!
Last but not the least; one has to be mentally strong to face all sorts of challenges. A new venture is demanding and the market is very competitive.
Any challenges you faced in starting this business?
Honestly, I began as an amateur with a lot of enthusiasm and desire to make a difference. My husband encouraged me to focus on my strengths to create the building blocks for Lulupu.com. While he is not an avid crafter, he was able to provide me with a strategic perspective to create a concrete roadmap and structure to set up and grow this initiative. We spent a lot of time in ideating and using consumer insights to prepare the framework which would work well for the growing paper craft community in India. This took us almost a year along with setting up of backend operations before finally launching Lulupu.com on 1st march 2012.
I think one of the biggest challenges was to start from the scratch. I had no idea how to run a business or put it up in the first place. The journey has been tiring and at times challenging enough to give up hope. It’s the passion to do what I love to push me this far.
Our basic idea behind Lulupu.com was aimed at overcoming the biggest challenge faced by paper crafters across the country i.e. sourcing products from global brands locally. Since it is an extremely niche and unorganized industry, a lot of people compare the prices of the products being offered in India with the ones in western countries. But the customers also overlook the fact that the papercraft industry is at a very advanced level in these markets. At the same time for a registered business like ours with proper sales licenses in India, there are innumerable additional costs incurred which add on to the final costing. In a price sensitive market, we were, nevertheless, constantly working towards exploring more efficient and cost effective supply chain to ensure our customers get their favourite products at the most competitive rates without compromising on the quality. What people take time to understand is that they can now order these products right at their doorsteps by a mere click and also opt to pay once they have checked and confirmed the order! They no longer have to rely on their friends / relatives to travel to US / UK to order these products and wait for months before they receive them! Needless to say they don’t have to pay a bomb to local sellers who more than often dupe them with defective pieces or exorbitantly priced items.
Why did you close the store after 5 successful years?
When I conceived in 2014 October, I was put on complete bed rest. I somehow managed to continue as I had hired one intern to work on the admin front. Nonetheless, my health did impact the business. I took a 3 month break when I delivered Kenisha and coming back with a bang wasn’t easy. I felt torn apart between my needy baby and my needy business. It was also a time when the market was getting highly unorganized with alot of people jumping into the industry without any knowledge and spoiling the market. I was finding it difficult to work and realised its time to let go. I knew I didn’t have the finances and the time anymore. The baby definitely took priority and I have no regrets. I left the market in a good note and made a name for myself!
Slide below to read few of the published articles I could find
So there you go, that was my journey as an Entrepreneur and I cant wait to hear what you have to say? Where are you stuck? Do you have your big idea in place? Would you need any support from me? Tell me in comments what more I can share? Please be specific and if i have the expertise am happy to share 🙂