An Excerpt from the Interview:
What made you start your venture? When did you start it?
Two years ago, I used to live in Oman and I had to go to Paris on work. My wife hand painted denim for me. When I wore that denim and went to Eiffel Tower, almost every head turned in awe. The reaction was overwhelming, and I realized what a kick a hand painted unique design can give. So when I returned to Muscat, I explored the idea further, did some research, painted few t-shirts, sold them and again response was encouraging. We also approached some painters in India, but more we got in touch with painters, we came to know that good artists are leaving this profession because of lack of suitable platform and remuneration opportunities for them. So we decided to shift to India, to work on beautiful designs and create a platform for Indian artists.
What is your business model?
We have our team of core artists and designers who work on product development and a large base of freelance painters who work with us as and when an order comes. We largely sell our merchandise through our own website, other selected online marketplaces and a few selected retailers. We also deal in customized apparels and home solutions which is also a integral part of our business model.
Have your reached break-even? What has been the key to your business’s success?
Fortunately, our business doesn’t have much fixed cost attached to it. Most of our artists are freelancers and we don’t hold a lot of inventory. As a company, we are extremely conservative in terms of cost efficiency, and we have not any capital expenses till date, so we are doing at break even. But this may change as we are now planning to open our own stores.
What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
We have to deal with lots of painters, and every painter has a different style, so training them to reproduce products as per our benchmarks becomes a challenge since we have to train artist to work on different style, so we don’t depend on any particular painter. Then there are times when we have to achieve production within tight deadlines and most of our painters are part time, so catering big orders at times become challenging, but we keep our search of good artists on. So we are still working on it, we can’t say that we have overcome our challenges yet.
Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
Currently we don’t have a mentor, so we are building the business with our own little understanding learning through trial and error. However we are really keen to have a mentor, who can help us scaling up the business and build a sustainable brand.
Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Our business largely involve manual labour, as hand painting is central and we have not yet reached that level wherein we have explored any specific technological benefits.
What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
Our artist treats every product as painting, taking care of every intricate detail, so that each piece is no less than a masterpiece. We also don’t hesitate in accepting mistakes and offering benefits to customers. As far as expansion is concerned, we are at a very nascent stage, where getting the product right and 100% customer satisfaction is a priority.
What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ability to take the first step, patience and perseverance to keep walking on that path.
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