BRINGING BASICS INTO BUSINESS

Women of Aavaran udyog with jute bags, business,

Investor talk with Mrs. Prachi Kothari

Mrs. Prachi Kothari, Founder, Director, CEO at ‘Avaran Udyog’, the foremost owner manufacturer of carrying Bags, Cloth Bags, Cotton Bags, and Jute Bags talks about the challenges and accomplishments of being a women entrepreneur.

A Women Entrepreneur, How did it happen?

Right from early childhood, we have been taught that plastic is very harmful to the earth. Plastics are non-biodegradable and take approximately 400 years to decompose. It pollutes the environment. and also poses a threat to animal habitation It is a huge environmental issue. Jute, on the other hand, is biodegradable and does not cause any harm to the ecosystem. So l chose to start from these parts. Plastic bags are cheaper but can be used only once. Use and throw is not an Indian mentality. We have a sustainability mentality. A bag made out of jute is reusable, for more than a year.

Describe your entrepreneurial journey.

Stitching is not my field. I am a Master in Sanskrit literature. So met a lot of tailors and people who were into the garment business travelled to places like Burhanpur, Surut and other tier 3-4 cities and discovered that cloth is being manufactured there. I saw the basic machines people use, machines which increase the speed of work.

In Akola everyone wants branded products or finished products. From a production perspective, we have tailored products made here but nothing is manufactured. have not seen basic things being manufactured in Akola. There is a petticoat industry but it is not on a very big scale. I wanted to fill this gap and create something which is very simple and basic in nature and is used by us on a daily basis. To fulfil this dream, started with manufacturing basic cotton bags. For this initiative procured very simple cutting machines this not only simplified but also sped our work. We could accomplish cutting around 4000 bags in a day which was only 300-400 per day earlier.

100% women workforce. What does it create for our society?

It has never been an issue in India that women don’t work. Household work even though it is not counted in the economic GDP of the country, is a huge amount of work. If a house lady is going out to work, she has to hire a cook, maid, she has to hire a complete household help who can manage the house in her absence. Women have been working in agriculture and many unorganised sectors. I thought of women down the lower economic strata to have financial independence. In the lower strata of society, if women are not financially independent it makes a lot of difference to them. It makes a lot of difference to how their family perceives them, how they are treated in their family and society, and most importantly how their children treat them. So I wanted to create employment for these women. Onboarding them was a tough job because women were not ready to come to work, their husbands were not ready to send them as well as there was a skills gap. We looked at the basic stitching skills and upskilled all the workers here.

From the start of this journey, I insisted that salaries be transferred to their bank account, and no cash in hand so that they can save and invest and not spend it fully see their lives have become better, and they are better equipped to save and plan for their children’s future.

Was marketing your product also a challenge. How did you find the customer segment?

We started with cloth bags. I went door to door to show the cloth bags to shopkeepers. Many people make bags in akola But then me as an entrepreneur wanted to make really best quality things, and when you go, to perceive that, it is a bit more expensive than ordinary. Then we forayed into Jute bags for wedding and gifting purposes. It looks more classy and people are ready to spend. Finding customers here was again door to door and of course internet. We put our products on marketplaces like Indiamart. Logistics have become convenient, there are many courier companies that ship products to almost 95% of pincodes within 8 days. We use our social media platforms to connect and engage with our customers and reach out to new customers everyday.

What bind of growth have you seen in your business? if you can give a number .

It is difficult to give a number. We moved from shop bags to wedding bags. We have been doubling our wedding bags sales every year. With covid behind us we are expecting more weddings going ahead, hence confidence of increasing our numbers drastically in the next two years. Word of mouth has helped us a lot to grow organically very fast. This has increased our topline. At the same time it enabled us to control our advertising and marketing expenses which has increased our bottomline. So effectively our cost of procuring new clients has gone down.

What more opportunities do you see in the market?

In hindsight, see we achieved these basic 2

  • We are avoiding plastic and we are sustainable.
  • We are empowering women

Garment industry is like an ocean; there is a huge scope. I want to get into Kurta-Pyjamas manufacturing. Another opportunity I see is Kids apparel, either cotton or fancy material.

Describe your business planning and investment planning.

We require planning with respect to upgrading machines, product photography and marketing on websites. Festival times and wedding seasons are also challenging for the business. Finishing orders on time is tricky, and sometimes employees go on leave. We need to plan for all of these in advance. With respect to money management, some of the profits that we get from our business are put back into business. And some money I put into the favourite investment product of women-Gold.

Do you envision more women getting into manufacturing in Akola?

Yes. I sincerely feel more people like me get into manufacturing. Competition is never a threat. It breeds excellence. Even if there are other people pursuing it, every business has potential. For buying silver, people go to Khamgaon. I wish people would come to Akola to buy manufactured clothes. “Kuch banwana hai to Akola chalo”.

You can buy the products from Aavaran Udhyaog Jute Panel purse, Jute Folding Purse and many more at indicbrands.com

Originally published by- Rupali Mohta in March for Wise investing a bi-annual magazine published in Akola. The Photo captions are from the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou.

You can follow Prachi Kothari on Twitter Here and Indic Brands here.

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Main Menu