Tarang Vivarang is a Hyderabad, India-based entrepreneur who saw opportunity in a, “single hand-painted dupatta” she bought fifteen years ago. She wondered what kind of opportunities she could create for herself and artisans if she started selling handmade textiles, sarees, stoles and dupattas herself. Vivarang her online textile site does just that. All of Vivarang’s products are handmade in traditional styles while artisans are paid fairly for their work. Her biggest success to date though? Growing her business slow and steady by word of mouth.
Vivarangs’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I started my business with passion and a willingness to learn, support and promote made in India textiles. A single hand painted dupatta bought from an artisan (about 15 years back), made me wonder what the possibility of doing this at a larger scale could be. My marketing background paved the way for a clearer understanding of my goal. Initially, I started by getting some hand embroidered t-shirts made from Kantha artisans and selling them to my friends. The product unfortunately didn’t do very well, but the learning process was immense. We gradually got into making wraps and sarees and later hand painted and hand embroidered items. There has been no looking back since. I gradually moved from my marketing faculty job to full time devotion to Vivarang.
Success to me is a journey that throws you challenges everyday. Success for me is also growth for my artisans as well as the everyday inspiring moments. To be able to maintain a work-life balance and pursue my passion. Being able to add new clusters of weavers/artisans to support, on a regular basis. At Vivarang, we are trying to make a difference, not just in the lives of people who work for us, but also making consumers aware of conscious and viable fashion. Sustainable and mindful living is our mantra. Every picture shared by our customers, who make our products part of their lives and special occasions, makes our day and motivates us to do more.
My biggest success to date has been word of mouth growth of our brand…slow and steady…it is a sustainable model that as been boot strapped but today supports about 250 artisans and weavers directly or indirectly. The fact that, as a brand, we are supporting livelihoods and at the same time, making customers understand the difference between machine made and handmade is a huge success. My success also is defined by the knowledge attained in this ongoing journey. I do not have any degree in textiles or designing, also when I started my knowledge of art and fabric (types and limitations) was almost non-existent. But today I can confidently differentiate between synthetic, handwoven and machine woven, among many other things. Persistence and patience have truly become my virtue – as I realize that there is so much more to learn and inculcate. The business has been self-financed since its inception and has managed to develop that way.
Vivarang started as a one man (read woman) army but continuous effort with resolution is helping it grow and sustain. With increasing competition (read online stores) the challenge is to make sure that we do not lose our ‘value proposition’ and in the process not only retain our existing customers but also add new ones. When we started 8 years ago, the logistics in India was not that evolved. We used to ship using Indian Postal Service, which meant literally going to a post office and standing in a queue with a bag full of parcels – which meant a lot of effort and time going into a non-creative activity. With time, as the industry has developed, we started working with the best courier service available for both domestic and international shipments. Another challenge was to meet customer expectations, in terms of how the ‘real’ product looks. We do our photography ourselves and they go on our website without any edits or special effects. Thus, when the product finally reaches the buyer, it not only meets but mostly exceeds their expectations.
Creative people who work at the grass roots level and come up with new concepts and designs, every independent female who is trying to maintain that very delicate balance between her success and family life – these are my role models. Indian women especially are expected to and are capable of multi tasking. My family has supported me in dreaming big and is patient with me taking ‘baby steps’ towards success. My husband keeps on helping (whenever required) in this endeavor and keeps driving us to attain more.