Gharobaar brings home local art

- April 6, 2022
| By : Patriot Bureau |

"Ultimately, our motive is also to get into these corners of India and connect with people who don't have a market of their own."

Sakshi Aggarwal with her team at E-commerce startup, Gharobaar

A meeting point for artisans and people, Gharobaar is an ecommerce business born out of the covid-induced lockdown. Founder Sakshi Aggarwal, opens about her venture and how it facilitates home-run businesses.

Please tell us about your website.

We are an e-commerce marketplace, wherein we promote handmade and organic natural products which are primarily made by small businesses. These businesses are mostly home-run businesses, so we have people who may not have a big factory setup. These are all unique handmade products, individually made by a small business, and to them, we provide a marketplace where they can list their products and services to get a wider audience. We promote their products to a much wider audience than what they do themselves thus trying to get more sales for their products. 

Did you have prior experience as an entrepreneur before you started with Gharobaar?

“This is my first venture in this space. Before this, I was a banker. So I’ve worked with various banks and financial institutions for about 11 years. And post that, I took about a full-year sabbatical when I had my second daughter. It was a phase where I wasn’t really working. The idea of what we can do and how we can do it started popping up around this time, which is when I got into Gharobaar. 

Sakshi Aggarwal Founder, Gharobaar.

What was the inspiration behind Gharobaar?

“The idea came during COVID. We saw that people have more time on hand, and they want to explore new things. People, in just about every household that you will find, have so much talent but they don’t know what to do with it. So that’s when this idea struck – what if you give them a portal where all they need to do is just manufacture the product and share that information with us, and we handle everything else for them. I wouldn’t say – from a business perspective in this field – that I had an inspiration. But yes, if you were to say what made me start this, then maybe my mother and my mother-in-law are probably the biggest inspirations because they started a business of their own during COVID. I wanted to do it. My mom knits. So, she says, “If I’m knitting for my granddaughters and I’m knitting for my kids, why can’t I just make products for other people as well?”

The website has several categories targeted towards different types of individuals and sellers. Could you please elaborate?

We put the sellers into different categories. Senior citizens are still trying to run a business or they’re pursuing passion. Then there is something for those who are out of a regular job and have now started with a business. We also have something called ‘phoenix sellers’, which implies rising from the ashes for somebody who’s tried a lot of businesses, but has been failing over and over again. Additionally, we have a category called first time ventures – a section for those who are trying out something new and different. We also have a ‘co-operative groups’ category. Such groups have individuals who may not be working from home but are a group of people. Like we have a society near Jama Masjid in Nizamuddin Basti called Insha-e-Noor. It’s a group of women working together to make these beautiful handmade bookmarks. 

Please tell us about some of the group businesses on your website.

There is a group of artisans in a remote village in Maharashtra. The village is on the outskirts. Even the closest train station is around 500 kilometers away from the area, and this is a self-help group. It’s an NGO which is working with these artisans and they all are into ‘Warli’ paintings – the traditional artform of Maharashtra. They don’t have a good internet connection. They only make these products and sell it to someone who will then increase the prices. By the time this product reaches the final consumer, it will probably have doubled in price. We are just trying to give them a space here. They have separate and independent pages on our website. There’ll be pictures and videos so that you know who you are buying from. We have a similar group of people which is in West Bengal.They are into Saris. 

Ultimately, our motive is also to get into these corners of India and connect with people who don’t have a market of their own. 

Are there any businesses associated with Gharobaar which the website had a huge impact on?

There’s one of our hot-selling products on the portal, chyawanprash by Arkh – Essence of Nature. It is manufactured at a home by a lady in Delhi, using 45 ingredients, and ours is the only online portal where she sells it. Earlier, she had been selling her product only through word of mouth and didn’t have the time or knowledge to learn about reaching out to more audiences, running an Instagram page, etc. Now, she has also started selling a little bit in offline exhibitions, but before that, this was the only online exposure she had. She was very happy that she got such visibility. Now, even her husband is involved in the business, and I think that they have set up a small unit just close to her house where they have two employees to help her.

As a woman-led brand, what challenges have you and your website faced? Do you think it has limited the portal to only women-run businesses?

87% of the businesses that we have on the portal are women-run. But our aim is not to have a brand which only supports women-run initiatives. It is also to support anybody who is into handmade products and wants to do something by themselves. It’s sheer coincidence, that because of COVID and in general, women are the ones who are mostly into home-run businesses.

And if I talked about myself, I did have this feeling that it is going to be a challenging task – being a woman and running a business. But I feel that we have progressed, and changes are happening. Somehow, I never felt that there is something I don’t have just because I’m a woman, or something which is lacking just because mine is a women-led brand. 

People have become very supportive and encourage women-grown businesses and women-led brands now. I think it’s rather an incentive. When it comes to managing your personal life and professional life, I feel that maybe women have a little more challenge in comparison to a man’s life. There is an expectation which everybody has from us, so you do face some challenges. You have to give time to your kids. You have to sumultaeneously work around the business also.But my husband is very supportive – we divide responsibilities, we work together, so it becomes manageable.

How do you see the website growing?

The one thing which we are immediately working on is to start a home food delivery service. When we are talking about homemade products, one of the biggest things, which a lot of people want is homemade food. So here is a segment that we are hoping to cater to. 

There are a lot of people, again during COVID, who have really gotten used to and enjoy cooking. When it comes to business, it helps other people access regular homemade meals. 

Currently we’re going to start with Delhi NCR. In fact, we did start with it. But just after a month and a half, we realized that there’s a lot more work that this needs. So we put a halt to it. And that’ll take about two months or so. Once that is done, we would want to expand to other cities. 

Another expansion plan we have in mind is related to people working from home. There are people providing services from home – tutions, music classes, dance teachers, etc. These people can also teach you astrology, tarot reading etc and we would like to give them an online portal.

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