Bengaluru women turn their hobbies into worldwide biz

They are creating products at home and using the Internet to reach customers in the remotest corners of the globe

Many Bengaluru women are making a business out of their hobbies,  and their work is being bought across the globe.

Whoever said being a homemaker is easy hasn’t been one. And to be able to run a home and business simultaneously is no mean feat. 

Metrolife profiles women setting an example. 

Baby carriers in pure cotton and linen

Chinmayie KV


Chinmayie KV

Five years ago, when Chinmayie gave birth to her son, she realised a cloth sling carrier was a lot more comfortable than the ones available in the market. However, no company was selling them in India. 

Four months later, she decided to start Soul, a company to make baby carriers. 

“In a country that’s not stroller-friendly, a sling carrier is immensely useful. I’ve used other slings for my older daughter and found them painful. When I found a cloth sling for my son, I realised more families could benefit from it,” says Chinmayie. 

Her husband helped her set up the website and soon orders started pouring in, from outside India too.

“Within a year, I started getting orders from the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia. When we realised this was a lot of work, my husband joined the company full-time,” she says.

Soul has a factory on Mysore
Road and a warehouse in Singapore. They now export the product across the globe.   

“We don’t use any synthetic material. Everything is 100 per cent linen and cotton and the materials are locally sourced. The only thing we import are the buckles. We have a team of mostly women,” she says. 

Chinmayie recalls how getting the business going was challenging, especially with two young children.

“But I carried my son around on the sling and we were models for the website for almost a year,” she says, laughing. 

 

Bridal couturier

Husna Sait 


Husna Sait

She was married off at 18 and within a couple of years, was a mother of two. Everything in an extended family became her responsibility. 

But she resumed studies after her second daughter was born, and took up speech therapy as a subject. “I couldn’t continue as seeing children with disability all day and come home to my children. It was just too difficult. I wasn’t mentally equipped,” says Husna. 

She then discovered her flair for making clothes that people liked. 

Long story short, she started her bridal couturier studio ‘Limited Edition’ in 2007 and it’s now 14 years strong. 

“Being a Gujarati Muslim, I come from a family of traders and got married to a family in cloth retailing. But the only problem was, there has never been a woman entrepreneur in the family,” she says.

“Hailing from a self-sustaining family, to have a daughter-in-law working was just not acceptable. But I stood my ground and went ahead anyway,” she says.

What won in her favour was that she never let her housework take a backseat.

She soon started being honoured for her work. “People would come up to my family and tell them that they liked my designs. The outside recognition helped everyone at home realise I could do it,” she adds. 

Her two daughters were her motivation. She wanted to be an example because “if I don’t show them that I can do it, they probably wouldn’t have the courage to break norms either.”

She currently works from her studio in Jayamahal. What excites Husna the most is that the learning never stops. She is happy that more old handicrafts and handlooms are in trend now.

Her take: “Women tend to sacrifice everything for family. I think it’s important to realise you need to be selfish at times — otherwise, you will not be valued as you should be. You can balance home and work if that’s what you really want.” 

She’s also the owner of Golden Touch Couture, an ethnic wear store on Commercial Street.

 


Kriti Jindal

Knitted and handmade stuff

Kriti Jindal

After Kriti got married, she moved to Australia with her husband. She was working there when she met with an accident and was bedridden for eight weeks. 

She grew restless and wanted to do something. She started searching for ideas and came across Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade items.

She started knitting and found out that there was a market for it.

“Within six months, we came back to India. My family, including my husband, hadn’t known that I had a side business. I wanted to do more and when orders started pouring in, I told my family,” she says.

And in 2013, she set up her Etsy account ‘Karibykriti’. It took her some time to understand the market and what her customers wanted.

Now, she has clients from the US, Canada, Singapore, Australia and even French Polynesia. “I had to Google where this place was,” she says, chuckling. 

The platform has not only helped her sell to customers, but also to other businesses. Kriti is also the finalist at The Etsy Design Awards for Inventive Decor this year.  Though she understands her success now, she says the hardest part was to convince herself to do this full-time. “There was always self-doubt whether I could do it,” she says.

When her husband found out, he said he would fund her company if she had a business plan. 

“For a long time, people thought that I was just doing this as a hobby and I would go back to working later. But this is what I wanted to do,” Kriti says.

She now plans to set up a workshop and make more products.

Stitching to entrepreneurship

Anu Naveen 


Anu Naveen

It’s been seven years since Anu started ‘Marmalade Sky’, an online store that uses only handloom fabric. 

Anu recalls how she would attend stitching classes at an institute on Commercial Street in the morning, work there in the afternoons, and return home before her children came back from school. 

“I took this up as something new to learn. But the learning led me to become an entrepreneur,” she says, proudly. 

She wanted to make clothes that are comfortable but also stand out in the crowd. She was determined not to compromise on quality. 

Anu says, “I started marketing through Instagram and it just picked up. I now have 40,000 followers and my clothes have been exported to almost every country except Pakistan.”

It wasn’t easy doing everything alone. “I didn’t know anything about business. Everything I know now was self-taught. I just made a few rules for myself and stuck to them,” she explains.

She admits social media really helped her build her business. 

“I start getting requests as soon as the Instagram story was put up. The orders are in before we even completely finish the design,” she says.

But her most important tool of handling home and work was having a domestic help. “It’s important to have your house in order if you want to run a business. A maid is sometimes
more important than your husband!” she says, laughing.

Soul

Product: Natural fibre baby carriers
Where: Factory in Bengaluru, warehouse in Singapore
Price: Rs 3,500 onwards to 10k
Marketplace: www.soulslings.com

Limited Edition and Golden Touch Couture

Product: Indian bridal wear and ethnic party wear
Where: Studio in Jayamahal and store in Commercial Street
Price: Rs 5,000 onwards

Karibykriti

Product: Block printing fabric for home decor
Where: www.etsy.com
How much: $10 onwards
Marketplace: @karibykriti (Instagram)

Marmalade Sky

Product: Delicate sustainable wear
Price: Rs 2,000 to Rs 14, 000
Marketplace: @marmalade_sky_me (Instagram)

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