Ashirbani Roy dons many hats – she is a ‘queen’ of multitasking. In fact, she did this interview sitting in an airplane! She is an amazing mom and a successful entrepreneur who runs her jewellery brand “Aashir’s” and apparel brand “Aahirini”. If that doesn’t sound interesting enough, she is a successful chef, photographer and a fantastic singer too! We were into conversation with Ashirbani regarding her journey as a Mumpreneur. Here is what she has to tell our readers.
Tell us about your journey — how you started?
After an extended sabbatical from my 9-6 IT job, after having my son, I wanted to work from home and was looking for flexible working hours. I tried various alternatives like technical writing and part-time jobs but I somehow didn’t enjoy them. That’s when I decided to start something on my own. Artificial jewellery was something that interested me from my childhood. Hence, I decided to start my venture “Aashir’s” where I could bring aesthetic jewellery created by artists to customers. The main idea was to bring stylish, high-quality jewellery at an affordable cost to customers all over India using online channels and thereby providing work to the artists.
When was Aashir’s conceptualized?
Aashir’s started in a very humble way with an investment of just INR 10,000 from my own home in 2010. My mother in law was the one who encouraged me to start Aashir’s.
From a full-time corporate job to starting your own business – how easy or difficult has it been?
Honestly, I had quit my job to spend time with my child. Aashir’s gave me the freedom to work at my own pace and time. It let me work around the routine of my son who needed much of my attention then.
What were your challenges?
During the initial days, I was the one man army and managed to shape up the business single-handedly. From managing supplies, inventory, photographing products, and conducting sales to sending invoices, packing, dispatching and ensuring products reaching customers on time. It got harder since demand was high and my volume of work kept increasing. Catering to the growing demand was a challenge. Also having new creative designs became another challenge.
How do you manage juggling between home and work?
Over the years, I have learned to tailor my work around my home and family. A lot of my work I still can do out of my home and that makes it easier to balance the home front. This kind of balance is what I always wanted and hence I really enjoy doing it!
When and how did Aahirini begin?
Aahirini is the apparels part under the umbrella of Aashir’s. In fact, I didn’t have any plan to start an apparel brand. It all started with requests coming from our jewellery patrons. They had good faith that I will get them great quality and pocket-friendly stylish products as I work directly with the artisans of the country. On their request, I began working with weavers from various states to source traditional weaves, handbags, home furnishings etc. My customers still send requests for various products and I try my best to keep up with their expectations.
From customers to vendors – how do you keep all of them satisfied?
Vendors are happy as I offer them regular work. I really feel accomplished when I see the much-deprived weavers and artisans of our country doing well and increasing their business along with mine.
Similarly, my customers keep telling me about how similar products are priced much higher elsewhere. We have always focussed on customer satisfaction first by ensuring quality products and service. We are happy to take their feedback and improve. When a customer is heard, they feel good n happy.
Happy reviews from our customers are testimony to our work!
What is your mantra for customer satisfaction?
We all are customers somewhere or the other. And as a customer, we feel happy with a few things like reasonable/affordable pricing, the quality of the product, products catering to their style statement and also hassle-free delivery. We try our best to ensure these factors are taken care of.
You also sing, do fantastic photography, hosted a cookery show and a part of a women entrepreneurs NGO group. How you manage to don so many hats?
We all need hobbies apart from our work to keep us going. They help us stay fresh and rejuvenated.
As a woman and a mum, I would love to help other women/moms embark on their path of entrepreneurship with ease. As a secretary of Women Entrepreneurs Consortium of India (WECI) I try to help women who would like to start a venture of their own. A little bit of handholding can lead to a great entrepreneur in the coming years!
What keeps you motivated?
I am really passionate about my work and feel further motivated seeing my customers’ love for Aashir’s. I work 7 days a week and never feel tired. I guess if we enjoy what we do, motivation just comes.
Recently you were interviewed by students of Symbiosis and Christ University for your business model. We would love to know more about it.
These days, with technology at our hand and boom of e-commerce, many women are coming to the forefront who wish to start a venture from their homes. Now I have a team and an office close to my place. Being able to sustain and grow from home intrigues them.
The fact that an online business can grow this big with just word of mouth and organic way surprised them. Hence Symbiosis and Christ University students did a study of my business model and included it in their thesis. Recently, I also gave a speech on a successful home run business at FKCCI (Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce n Industries).
We wish Ashirbani all the best for serving as a role model to many wannabe mumpreneurs!