The world is sitting up and taking notice about the immense effects of chemicals in everyday products- from the recent ban of Maggi to the surge in Organic Products market, it only proves that the world wants to go back to nature! In search of our own redemption!
But with the amount of misinformation the media feeds us with flashy advertisements and catchy names,and every second product and stall screaming “Made from Natural Products”; how do we really know?
Meet Priya Jain and Shubhalakshmi, a vibrant duo who decided to combat the problem by creating such unique products themselves. ‘MishiKrafts’- a haven for handmade items, came into being from a very simple desire. A desire to to have a chemical-free bathing experience. With that, they started their signature line of hand-made soaps made with natural oils and fragrance. As their customers delighted in their products, they slowly explanded to a host of other unique, handmade and meaningful products.
Read on to know more about this feisty duo and their little inspiration, Mishika!
KK: Tell us a little about yourself and your venture. ( in this case, both of you!)
MishiKrafts Hi, I am Priya. I formerly worked as a television journalist and went full time into business only a few months ago. I juggled between office and the business for a while before I took the leap of faith. I have always been passionate about things that needed a certain level of creativity without being so complex to become an impossible challenge. Mishikrafts is named after my niece, my brother’s daughter. I had just learnt how to make handmade soaps and was keen on seeing if there might be a market for these type of soaps. Considering there are a fair few number of people already existing in the business, the challenge was to make it different and yet affordable.
Shubhalakshmi is my sister-in-law. She is a manager in an IT company . We had just had Mishika when we trying to name the venture. She was barely a fortnight old when we decided to convert a combined passion into business. My brother, Ramesh supported the idea hugely and even set up our website www.mishikrafts.biz for us instantly. It was Shubha’s idea to take the venture beyond just articles made by us. Jointly, we are involved in sourcing out products from women who have stay at home restrictions for various reasons. While I am the face of the brand and our products, Shubha is the motivation and strength that keeps me going.
KK: What was the inspiration behind your start-up? Is your start-up an answer to some challenge you came across yourself? How did you come together to start something like this?
Mishikrafts: The motivation was to find skin care products that are mainly chemical free. The products that are in the market that match the requirement but are super expensive. Personally having battled a lot of skin issues, I realised that the core problem lay with chemicals in products. I wanted to create something that would not burn a hole in one’s pocket while ensuring that the skin was exposed to lesser harsh chemicals. The idea was already in place, all we needed was a little push to go further into it. The push came with our handmade soaps getting a good response, added to that were the chocolates that gave us a fantastic response. Gradually, our list of products went from 2 to 20 and still continues to be an ever growing list.
KK: What led you to believe that this would be your niche?
MishiKrafts: At Mishikrafts, we work really hard at customisation. No matter how challenging a situation may be, we give it our utmost attention and dedication to give the customer what they want at an extremely affordable price. We customise according to a client budgets- for Christmas, we made hampers that ranged from Rs 30 to Rs 3000. We keep in mind that the quality of the product should never be compromised. Every feedback – good or bad is taken very seriously and worked upon. The reason this has become our niche is because we have ensured that every single detail is taken seriously and it is the most important aspect for any of our orders – be it big or small.
KK: What is your venture’s big picture? Do you believe you idea can change the world in some way?
MishiKrafts There are several big pictures to our ventures. We want to provide quality products is the most basic aim. The other target we have is to help as many women as we can – this has multiple reasons – one is financial independence that can help women. We also provide training for women entrepreneurs who may not be able to take up regular education or go out of home for business. The first aim is our core value, but the second one is a more special one as it helps a lot of women. We source products from several women who are bound at home. We take care of the backend logistics for shipping, pick ups and deliveries of handmade products.
KK: Do you see the Internet as your biggest online partner?
MishiKrafts: Internet is one of our biggest enablers. It helps reach out to a huge number of people instantly – be it locally, nationally or even internationally. It’s also one of the easiest and quickest ways of promoting our products. Through social media, you can get lot of your friends, family, colleagues etc to have a visibility of what you are doing instantly. While we get a number of queries from the social media, our biggest reach is through word of mouth and personal recommendations.
KK: How big do you envision your Market size and reach to be? What is your revenue model? Who are your competitors?
MishiKrafts: The market size is huge. Everything we provide is something or the other that can be used/ gifted. In a country of one billion plus, the market size is limitless. Our revenue model is basically order-based. We don’t mass produce anything or store them endlessly. Customisation and creating a platform for other women entrepreneurs is important to us. The competition is also from various quarters, there are several people doing what we do, what sets us apart is we work according to the customers’ preferences. There are others who do all of the above at another scale and level independently, we customise the smallest order and bring several people who might be considered ‘competition’ together. We are more focused on creating a platform when compared to instant profits.
KK: What is your brand proposition?
MishiKrafts: Handmade, unique products, competitively priced and in as convenient a system as possible.
KK: How is your startup being funded? Are there any future plans of investments?
MishiKrafts: We are so far self-funded and we intend to keep it that way for a slightly longer time. The reason being, we want to ensure quality over quantity. With funding, pressures of delivering targets and profits are higher. We would rather focus on breaking the myth that you need huge funds to get somewhere in the market, we started on an investment of less than ten thousand rupees. We are also hugely inspired by my mom, Late Pista Devi, who was an entrepreneur who knew how to run a household and a business on a budget without compromising on quality in anyway.
KK: Do you have anything specific for kids? Since Kidskintha is a kid-focused website, I would like to emphasize on that aspect.
MishiKrafts: We have several products for children. We have soaps suited for children’s skin. Mishika is a prime example and could work as our brand ambassador. When she was a baby, she had several skin issues and the most expensive creams didn’t give us the desired effect. We started using a cream that we made ourselves on her and winter went by like a breeze without a single skin rash. She is also an avid fan of our Orange soaps and Milk and Vanilla soaps. Our other core product is chocolates, we once had a child asking for lion-shaped lollipops and within a week, we delivered to an endless bundle of joy. We also have forks and knives with Lamasa art work that are attractive to kids and work as excellent return gifts too.
KK: What are the revenues and? When is the Break-Even expected by?
MishiKrafts: We are currently keeping the profit margins small margins like in this industry, probably at 15 to 20%, which goes down on bulk orders too. We broke even in the third month of business considering our initial investment was low. From then on, we have been making phase-wise investments to grow and sustain the business.
KK: What are the current marketing efforts being incorporated? What do you see as necessary to take your business to the next level?
MishiKrafts: Current marketing is networking based and customer references. We also use Facebook to promote new products and constantly stay in touch with customers through Whatsapp. We plan to get more people engaged to take the business to the next level.
Our success marketing strategies so far have been articles in newspapers, TV Channels, Internet marketing, stalls, give-aways and word of mouth.
KK: What does your typical day look like juggling between mom responsibilities and owning a business?
MishiKrafts: It is a full-time job and sometimes we wish we had 8 hands and ten heads. We also wish for a 36-hr day at times. Mishika is now 24 months old and a handful. She is a bundle of energy but is also keenly interested in the business. She is constantly hovering about our workplace and is usually keen on observing and sampling the first batch of chocolates and trying out the soaps too!
KK: Share particular challenges on managing a growing business being a mom, which is never less than a full-time job.
MishiKrafts: The days are long, the nights are longer. Sometimes we question our own sanity in doing this, but at the end of the day, we have a deep felt satisfaction in knowing that we are following our passion. Being a mom is much easier with a supportive family, my husband Ramesh is a hands-on dad and pitches in with Mishika and the business as much as he can. My father-in-law, Mr PS Jain is also an integral part of the business and helps us out in every possible manner. Be it pulling a late-nighter together or bathing Mishika, both are dads who pitch in with more than their fair share of work and love.
KK: What is your personal mantra for motivation( both)?
MishiKrafts: Innovation and the desire to innovate keeps us going. It is also hugely motivating to have received the kind of overwhelming response we have received. We also noticed that there are several other women with probably not as much an edge as we have, be it in terms of a supportive family or friends circle, but they have a desire to do something. We recognise this passion and salute it. The added motivation lies in recognising someone else’s potential and giving it a leverage.
KK: What message do you have for other aspiring Momprenuers( Shubha could give more light on this?
MishiKrafts: It is never easy in the beginning, but stay positive and stay grounded. Be fair in your pricing and approach to everything. The leap of faith is hard to take (giving up a full time job and the security in drawing a salary every month) but you have to keep your eyes on the prize. Do your best and you are sure to get the best results.
KK: A few words about what you like about Kidskintha.
MishiKrafts: Kidskintha is a wonderful plaatform for mothers who are currently enjoying momhood. Very insightful and delightfully written, the content is upbeat. We love the fact that you have stated motherhood for what it is- a harrowing 24 hour job. Sometimes, we are quite taken aback by what our little ones are capable of, be it quipping absolutely honest opinions or parroting what we say. Kidskintha is indeed inspirational for the amount of work that it has put in to find other moms who are as inspirational and charting their own success stories. We wish Team Kidskintha all the very best and hope you continue to rock!
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha- an online parenting resource repository dedicated to jumpstarting conversations around millennial parenting, encouraging parents to bring their attention to words, thoughts and actions that will enable them to raise a well-rounded, empathic and motivated generation. You can also find her on the Huffington Post, Parent.co, Entrepreneur, Lifehack, TinyBuddha and many other publications.