I am a hundred percent Udaipur girl: I grew up here, my parents live here, I got married here and now have my own little family. I call myself a "mompreneur". I love my quaint life in this idyllic, historic City of Lakes that is frequented by travellers and culture enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. That is the beauty of Udaipur—even while living in a small town, your perspective about life is broadened and enriched by the people you meet. The whole world comes to you.
After graduation, I lived in a few other places: completed a degree in marketing from the UK, worked in London for a media giant, then moved to Mumbai for a stint with Unilever. It was important that I experienced the corporate pace and ways—I learned about organisation, pitching proposals, the importance of branding, strategies, delegation and management. It also helped me explore life outside Udaipur, and in a way, strengthened my connection with my hometown. In my head, I knew that whatever I would do in the future would be intrinsically connected with it.
Right from the beginning, I told myself that it was not going to be a numbers game or jetspeed growth. Its development would be organic, nourished, wholesome.
The single biggest advantage of the digital age is that your location is no longer a constraint. You do not have to set up your business in one of the established metros. But you must have clarity regarding your model. I understood that the persona of my brainchild would stem from that of my own. A simple, self-profiling exercise helped me note down my strengths and assets. Udaipur has always been a hub of small galleries, antiques showrooms, high-quality crafts and textile boutiques. I was personally acquainted with the curators and many of these generational establishments. I was passionate about unique, handcrafted items that were painstakingly created by artisans. History and culture were second nature. But I was also a girl of the present, who appreciated thoughtful, modern design. Whatever I did had to be an honest reflection of my world: a coexistence of the past and the present.
At the time that I decided to start my venture, I spotted a gap in the lifestyle e-commerce space. While the modus operandi of the popular portals was to retail the maximum variety of furniture and home accessories at competitive prices, their selection of premium merchandise was very limited. A curatorial approach was lacking, and that is what I set about to do. Right from the beginning, I told myself that it was not going to be a numbers game or jetspeed growth. Its development would be organic, nourished, wholesome. My business would be my "labour of love". My target audience was different; my prices were in the premium to luxury bracket. Slow and steady was the only strategy. I would initiate with a smaller selection of names, then expand qualitatively. I stuck to the plan.
Whether it's a small business or a corporate conglomerate, no matter what kind of company one may run or work for, the truth is that an establishment is only as good as its people. I connected with the right consultants, conversed with designers and artists, looked out for the right kind of people to be part of my work family. I believed that if I wanted this to succeed, every person that I hired had to be better than me in their respective departments. From "I", it became "we" as a small team came together. The reason why we decided to call our site The House of Things is because we were going to be about the appreciation and celebration of good design. The "Things" would keep us fluid, unrestricted in terms of categories. Our USP would be our sourcing: identifying unique pieces from people who create with care.
Having a specific target audience works; it is almost impossible to cater to every group and all kinds of taste.
It has been three exciting years, with small triumphs, big setbacks, the usual startup troubles, and a whole lot of learning. But fortunately, our growth has been steady. Our perseverance has rewarded us with a loyal set of clients with stellar taste. And a whole lot of love from the design fraternity. We want to be an integrated platform for heritage crafts and niche design from all parts of the world. We want to promote India as a forward-thinking design destination, not just a crafts hub. We want to earn not just recognition, but also respect.
We are a very young company, so I cannot advise future entrepreneurs like a veteran. But I would like dreamers to not get carried away with the idea of the digital boom, or think unrealistically of becoming overnight successes. A clear idea, a simple plan, thorough research and a transparent financial strategy will help build a solid foundation. Having a specific target audience works; it is almost impossible to cater to every group and all kinds of taste. Patience pays off—we are proof of that. The digital space requires us to keep evolving, so we have to keep ourselves constantly aware. And finally, no one can do anything alone. It is only with the right partners, teams, talent and a reliable network that one can build something that will last the test of time.
In the end, it's about staying true to yourself to create something "beautiful, rare and inspired."
My Design For Entrepreneurship: The Things That Matter