Bharathi, is a mompreneur and owner of Aarika Fashions – an online apparel store for women. She is a Software Engineer by profession with Postgraduate in Biotechnology, turned to be a Women Entrepreneur. Her brand sells varieties of comfortable fabric in bulk and also curates customised and twinning outfits. Bharathi shares with WomenpreneursOfIndia – WOI about her business journey.
Think long and hard before you start a business. Once you do, stick by it and do what needs to be done!
I am the eldest of 3 girls and I have so many fond memories of shopping with my family. Anything we buy, it would always be in threes. I think that is where my love for dresses, to try different styles and to explore started. Because we always bought so many! And, with every new purchase came a bunch of issues such as colour bleeds, stitches giving way and other such quality defects…
After completing schooling, when I got to join the prestigious SASTRA University in Thanjavur, I was absolutely elated and decided to opt for the direct Post-graduate program in Biotechnology. Studying and living in Thanjavur was an experience like no other and it helped me grow so much. Such fond memories! In the final year, I landed a Software job in a leading IT company via Campus Placements and went on to work in the IT Sector for the next few years. In a line – Postgraduate in Biotechnology by Choice, Software Engineer by chance and now a Mompreneur.
When I found that I was pregnant, a friend introduced me to the virtual world of support on Facebook. I was lucky to stumble upon various parenting groups on Facebook which educated me on exactly how I wanted to bring up my child, how to handle initial days, breastfeeding, baby wearing, baby led weaning, and so on.. All these kept me busy and engaged in the initial few months. And, I quit my job to give my girl the best I could – my time, energy and love. As my baby grew, I realised just how much time I had in my hands and how I really missed not going to work. That is how I started thinking what next.
At around the same time, I was having a conversation with my husband where I expressed my interest to start an online business and I was surprised at how welcoming he was to the idea! He encouraged me to take the plunge and said not to worry about and he was sure that I can work it out. It was the singular defining moment of my entire thought process. Without those encouraging words, Aarika would have never been here today.
Initially I had an idea to turn on of my hobbies into a business, but for some reason I wasn’t too thrilled about it. One of my friends suggested – dress materials, something about that idea struck a chord and that is how we started! Initially, it was all about scouring unique and different dress materials all over India and sourcing them. I would get a sample from each person, use it personally or gift to my sisters and get their feedback before getting in bulk. That way I had soon shortlisted vendors with the best quality products and unique designs. There began the wonderful learning curve of product photography, digital marketing and customer handling.
Initially, being a completely home run business, I was available round the clock. This resulted with many taking me for granted. Customers expected me to respond to messages the very next instance, even if it was midnight. Now, I learnt to have fixed work timings and adhered strictly to them even if I had the urge to check my phone at all times! I wouldn’t call these as problems, but more of a learning experience which changed the way I worked and thought.
To be honest, I was surprised by the start. I got a huge support from all my relatives, friends and known persons who were my customers initially. And as the circle kept expanding, every new person who would purchase gave me a thrill!
Apart from this, being a one woman workforce is extremely tiring and difficult most days. Right from Sourcing, photo shoots, marketing on social media to handling customers, payments and shipping – everything was done by me on a daily basis. Some days are more difficult than others. I have often thought of hiring someone to help with some of the day to day activities, but it has not materialised so far. That would be my next step I guess. That said, I have enjoyed this journey like no other because I do not think I would have learned so much elsewhere.
My family and friends has been the biggest pillar of support that I needed at all times. I think almost every person in my household, including my house help have contributed in a way. My husband is a constant – I go to him in times of confusion or worry. And he is always there – with a wise word or a shoulder to lie on. Usually it is my Mother-in-law who takes care of her for a few hours. So, I can get some work done on a daily basis. When we have had stalls/exhibitions, my parents would stay over at my place, even for a whole week, to take care of my daughter. In the past 2.5 years, the key take away from the critics and Appreciations I have received so far are-
- Be open to any and all kinds of Feedback. Then do your own research to find out what happened, why and how to better the situation.
- Work hard; be sincere and true to yourself and it Always helps in moving forward.
- At times of confusion, I close my eyes and imagine that I am a regular consumer checking out this online business and that gives me a perspective to work on.
In the initial phases, I have been too trusting and gullible. So, I have learnt to be more careful – both with customers and with vendors. I would like to say,
- Do your own research about each and every vendor you work with.
- Get a sample, Conduct necessary quality check before investing in any new product.
- Ups and Downs are part of any journey. It is important to learn from each experience and use it to mould a better version of your business and move forward.
Lastly, I am very happy and thankful for all the love I have received so far and hoping for more on the way. At present, I am focusing on my 3.5 year old, engaging her in activities, reading books etc. And, my Heartfelt best wishes for WOI and thank you for this opportunity!!
– says Bharathi.
Thank you Bharathi. You are an Inspiring Mompreneur. Your lessons and tips are truely a guide for self-starting women! We are glad to feature your business story on WOI. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Keep Inspiring!
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