November 15, 2018
WhatsApp appears to have revolutionised the way of doing business in the country. Eight out of every 10 households in the country reported purchasing at least one sari. In the rural area, it was as high as 85 per cent compared to urban India at 74, according to the National Sample Survey Office and Shanmuga Priya from Chennai makes millions through her venture ‘Unique Threads Saree’.
She started her venture in 2014, after being inspired by her mother-in-law who used to go villages selling saris.
Soon after her death, Priya had to leave her job, to look after her family. It was then the thought of selling sarees with a twist struck her. With an investment of Rs 30,000 and the help of wholesalers, she started her sari business.
At first, it was by word of mouth. Later, when it started growing, she took to Facebook, WhatsApp and today she has more than 70,000 resellers in her group and does a business of more than Rs 22 lakh a month during festive seasons.
In a culturally rich country, every region has its colourful unique type of sarees and draping style, Hence, Priya does not confide to any one category of sarees. She analyses and introduces new patterns, materials and designs to stay tuned with the current trend.
“Initially I started with chettinad cotton, chikoo silk, then synthetic cotton and finally Kalamkari. The formula to successful online business is having the right quality product for the right audience and market it at the right time,” says Priya.
According to a report by Morning Consult study, over 80 per cent of small businesses in the country has said WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business. WhatsApp makes business easier for SMEs and enterprises to connect with people and vice versa which also means more competition.
Priya constantly innovates to beat the competition and says, “Unique Thread Saree has become a brand because of trust, quality and price. When I post a picture of a product it states fabric material, brief description, quality, instructions on how to wash it and measurement. Most importantly, if there would be a deviation from the picture posted. I am flexible with resellers giving them the money once got from the customers. I keep on introducing concepts like ‘combos’ where saris are clubbed with earrings or clutches to stay ahead of the competitors.”
The business started as a necessity, with the help and guidance of manufacturers like Abhishek Kochar, Sharadha and Jagdesh Today, it can thrive without her. She is proud that people who started working with her four years ago are still with her.
It has been a roller coaster ride. “Initially when I started, people questioned and looked down on me. They made me feel I am doing a menial job and some even quoted that to sell sarees formal education was not required. However, the same people now congratulate and support me.
“The learning in all this is don’t give up when people mock you, don’t be afraid of failure and quit. Let that be a source of inspiration for you to reach great heights of success, that should silence your critics. Don’t give up and follow your passion,” she adds.