Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots

Making it easy

Connecting the dots

Handcrafting a gift is always special, but not everyone has the artistic bend to do that. So, what then? Let professional crafters help you out, of course. When Manveen Kaur, Sarthok Mohanthy and Nishant realised that there are many art enthusiasts who need a bit of help, they decided to start ‘Hobby in a Box’.

The idea for the startup was born on the XLRI – Xavier School of Management campus in Jamshedpur. Elaborating on this, Manveen says, “When I was doing my MBA, I came across a candle on Pinterest that I really liked. I wanted to replicate it but since Jamshedpur is a tier-three city, I had to go to Kolkata to get all the ingredients.

After a four-hour long trip to Kolkata, I was forced to buy everything — candle wax, colours, essential oils — in bulk and make a return trip of another four hours!” This tedious journey got her thinking but it was Nishant who gave her the push to draw the business plan. “I’d complain to him how inaccessible crafting material was, and at one point, he told me to stop whining and do something about it. I took that seriously and came up with a business model for ‘Hobby in a Box’, which was appreciated by my peers and teachers,” she adds.

Even then, she didn’t take it seriously. After a few more nudges, she realised how important art is to people and her. “Growing up, until I was 16 years old, I never had to buy clothes; my mother stitched everything. Whether it was summer or winter clothing; skirts, tops, kurtas or sweaters, she made everything,” says Manveen. While such acts seemed insignificant then, as she grew up she understood them better. “I can’t explain why I love crafting, it’s just small things like this that made it appealing to me,” she adds.
Nishant, who is now her husband, is an expert at retailing so he looks after the e-commerce. And Sarthok, a folk artist, helps with designing the products. So, one can literally buy a hobby in a box. Each box has the needed material and instructions for making a product, be it scented candles, coasters or purses.

Those who were relatively comfortable with crafting loved the idea but those who were novices needed another push before they could take a leap of faith. “Many people wrote to us saying that they weren’t sure whether they could do it, so we started taking workshops for them. If they enjoyed the experience, they could continue with other crafting techniques,” explains Manveen.

With this venture, one doesn’t need to run around the city looking for art material. “Most online tutorials use material you don’t get very easily in India, like soy wax for candle making. With ‘Hobby in a Box’, we connect these items with buyers and ease the process,” says Manveen.