Name of your business:
Chotee (Website: www.ilovechotee.com)
Tell us about your business…
In Hindi Chotee means tied hair, it also means peak of the mountain. The idea is quite simply to provide as much joy to the hands that make them as the wearers of the beautiful products. Chotee is an inconspicuous brand of handmade fashion accessories made lovingly for girls of all ages. Each product is lovingly designed and crafted to give an Oh So Gorgeous look along with functionality. These are crafted by underprivileged women who are taught from scratch to make these, and they are paid fair. Mostly it is a lot of hair accessories in addition to necklaces, hand chains, rings, belts and even eye glass chains. Each product is tested for functionality, quality and durability before it is launched.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I belong to the Marwari business community, and always had the bug of starting something of my own, so when I found I was able to train women to make this stuff, I jumped right into it. The whole idea of designing, marketing and selling products that I absolutely love is what excites me. In addition, I get to help women including me, lead a better life!
Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?
The sheer number of choices one has to make on an everyday basis is pretty crazy. In addition, juggling between the roles of a designer, trainer, marketer, procurement officer, model and seller is a little bit tricky. Also, being in a market which is so unregulated, and is mostly compared to goods that are mass produced in China by people who have no concept of Fair Wage is difficult to say the least. Moreover, India as a market doesn’t believe in spending on handmade products, because somehow people believe handmade products should be cheaper since no money was spent on machinery.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have participated in almost 50 exhibitions so far, and learnt so much from the process. From understanding the client requirements/psyche to the price point that would work to even the colors that are popular. It has a been huge learning. Talking and explaining the process of making these, and how both quality and design of Chotee products is much superior, has helped immensely.
How did you find your first customers?
Chotee was launched 2 years ago at Bangalore’s largest and most loved flea market Sunday Soul Sante. That was the first time the products were put up for sale. The response was phenomenal, it also gave me idea of what works, and why and how. I received instant feedback on the products, and it helped immensely in developing new products as well.
What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?
Exhibitions and online, they both work very well for Chotee products. Events provide an opportunity for the buyers to try the products, and experience the look and feel of these. However, the attention is drawn to the products that are displayed the best. Online listings provide equal weight to every product, hence allowing the customers to pick from a wider variety that is all displayed very aesthetically.Further, online listings provide a large reach of the products.
What is the most exciting part of running your own business?
The fact that I get to call the shots!
What is your least favorite part of running your own business?
The fact that I have to make so many choices, its the best and the worst thing because there is no way to measure the true impact of the decision.
How do you stay motivated during difficult times?
Chotee is my baby, I just can’t let go of it. Usually, its in realizing how far I have come. Also,speaking with other entrepreneurs helps greatly.
Who inspires you?
All the awesome women who run their own venture.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?
Stay true to yourself, your choice and your idea. Give it time and energy, and don’t beat yourself up if people don;t get what you are doing and why. It’s your baby, keep going and you will find your way.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jaya!