Name: Rashi Bajaj
Business: Carpet Couture by Rashi
Industry: Consumer Goods
Location: New Delhi, India
Reason for starting: After college, I enrolled into an MBA Program. Coming from a business family, I was always fascinated to read case studies on young entrepreneurs and their innovative business ideas. I knew my calling was in business. But I had to decide what business it was going to be. My dad was into exports and, having travelled a bit with him, I had seen carpets weaved by Indian weavers adorn the floors of world’s best palaces, residences and hotels. One option was to take an exclusive franchise of these stores for India the other was to join the family business. While joining the family business was easy, it never appealed to me. Taking a franchise of a European designer didn’t make sense to me either, as I knew the ground reality: weavers relentlessly weaved rugs for paltry sums and stores abroad made the profit. Importing rugs back meant cheating Indian customers by charging 10 times for something which is very much made in India.
This is when I decided to launch a store of carpets on my own, with my designs, weaved in rural India, embellished by rural women, offering customized Indian contemporary handmade rugs to Indian customers.
How do you define success? Success is a relative term to me — it’s your state of mind, and as a woman entrepreneur I feel it’s important for me to stay positive and never give up. When I see my work adorn the floors of the best hotels and residences across the world, I feel happy. On a personal front, whenever my daughter comes home happy from school it makes my day.
Biggest Success: Its difficult to name one. Success is a sum total of a lot of things. In terms of work, we have executed orders for rugs for premium hotels like Kempinski in Doha, Movenpick in Dubai, The Marriot in Saudi Arabia, Shaza Hotel in Muscat, Oman, W Hotel in DOHA and have also carpeted royal residences in the Middle East and India. We have also delivered carpets for Trump Towers in Pune, India, Marriott in Bangalore and the Premium Lounge for Bangalore International Airport.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Our rugs and carpets are manufactured at Bhadohi (a small town in North India, near Varanasi), which is not only a religiously sensitive area, but is largely a conservative male-dominated village with very low literacy rate and a strong aversion to working women. The first 6 months of business were the worst ever phase of my life, as I had no one ready to work in my unit, as I was a female. Neither were there any customers at the store in Delhi (as ‘designer for carpets’ was unheard of). Taking this in my stride, I decided to invest in a set-up, rented an old factory and started with female weavers, which worked well for us. Soon male weavers followed and this aspect came under control. At the store, no customers came in for the first 6 months, resulting in acute financial pressure, but I didn’t give up. I started calling architects, interiors designers to give me a chance, and it worked.
Who is your most important role model? I look up to Oprah Winfrey. When there is no struggle, there is no strength – these words of Oprah Winfrey are my mantra to success.
Edited by The Story Exchange