Entrepreneur: Shreya Thakkar
Business Name: Strut
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 93
Shreya Thakkar was fond of bags since her childhood. Bag was her favourite accessory. She had many bags in various designs and colours. But what stays in childhood would stay forever. Years later, the love for bags made her an entrepreneur.
Shreya left her comfort zone and career to give new dimensions to her passion. That’s how she founded Strut, a brand that sells a range of bags suited for everyone. Handcrafted to perfection, Shreya’s bags have already created a buzz among the bag lovers in the country. Was her entrepreneurial journey a piece of cake or a thorny ride? Let’s find out as Shreya stops by to tell her startup story.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
After working for a year and half in the field of finance post my MBA I thought of moving out of the comforting corporate life to do something I would love to do my entire life.
From childhood my favorite accessory has been Bags and I always felt that good bags were not affordable to all and the cheaper ones were not attractive in looks and hence to fill this gap I decided to try my hands on Bags. My love for bags made me decide why not to do something which gives me work satisfaction.
Initially I started with buying 20 ready-made bags. I had decided on one thing that even if no one buys those bags, I will keep them for myself. Fortunately all of those 20 got sold within a week’s time itself. People liked the collection and asked for more variety hence I decided to explore in this field only. We started this in the month of Jan’15 and sold these bags for 4 months finally, in the month of May we started with designing and manufacturing on our own.
Though I do not have any formal training in designing but from observation over people and their bags, I have developed a knack for designing and crafting. The quote “I make Bag contact before Eye contact”, perfectly resembles my current state of mind
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
The Indian fashion market is growing exponentially. There is still a huge void in the Accessories(Bags) market, the high end labels are pretty expensive not affordable to many while the low end ones are though cheaper in price but are mass produced & hence lacks creativity and detailing and hence I think this is the right time for the idea to exist to fill this gap.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
My family was equally excited about my decision and they have been very encouraging and supportive throughout my journey. I could not have been where I am without their support
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
I think making mistakes is part of the learning process. Sometimes things didn’t go as per the plan but what worked out was much better than what was planned and it made the journey more exciting with lots of learning.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
Currently we are selling our bags through few marketplaces and a physical store. As the Indian e- commerce market is growing day by day, my biggest obstacle in the next 12 months would be to start my own website and also to increase more point of sales by having a tie up with various stores and by listing our brand on various other marketplaces in India and across the globe
6) What habits contribute to your success?
When you start your own venture there is no boss to tell you your job or give you feedback on a timely manner; you need to be your own boss. Hence according to me doing self evaluation on a regular basis, maintaining a To Do diary, seeking guidance from your mentor and regular follow ups with vendors, prospective customers, suppliers contributed to my success
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
If I had the opportunity to start this business again, I would do proper market research to understand what are the needs & preferences, likes and dislikes of my target audience as we did lots of trial and error before we finalized on the style and size of bags.
Also, we would focus on bigger and better marketing & promotions from the initial phase only as it is the only way to increase the brand awareness
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Magic happens when you don’t give up, even though you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart” – JM Storm
9) Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from travelling to different places, by meeting new people and listening to their experiences and stories
10) What is your favourite book?
What I know for sure- Oprah Winfrey
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
It is an amazing feeling to start something on your own from the scratch. Find what is that you truly love to do because if you will do something in align to your interests and passion, you will do a lot of it and will excel at it. Don’t wait for the right time, as the right time is NOW.
When it comes to bags, there were only two extreme options in Indian market. You can either get a very expensive bag or a very cheap one. Shreya, with her brand, tried to fill the gap in between these two categories.
Started humbly with only twenty bags, Strut is gradually building a loyal customer base in the country. With smart marketing, Shreya is set to scale up the business. All these would not have happened if she had remained in her comfort zone. So leave your comfort zone and do what you always wanted to do. Because the best time, as Shreya points out, is NOW!
Want a trendy bag? Check out Strut on Instagram now!