SupportBiz presents an exclusive conversation with Gunjan Parulkar, founder of Koyri, about jewellery-making, running a business side-by-side with a full-time job, and good and bad moments as an entrepreneur.
How long has Koyri been in operation?
Koyri has been in operation for almost a year now.
What are the major kinds of products that you offer?
I am mainly into hand-made beaded jewelry: earrings and necklaces. I have made a few anklets too, and lately, there seems to be a demand for bracelets too. I keep working on suggestions that I receive. At the same time, when I am a little bored of making accessories, I try out newer things – I have made bookmarks out of wires and beads, keychains, etc. I have also made paper jewelry out of old magazines, but all of this is just for fun.
Do you create all your products yourself, or do you source them from artisans?
I make all my products at home. I enjoy the process - design, colour combinations, the actual making, taking pictures, et al.
Which of your products are the most popular?
Earrings seem to fly off the shelf real fast, as compared to the other accessories.
What were you doing prior to starting Koyri? What is your background?
I am a software professional, and I am still doing working full-time.
How did you come up with the idea of starting Koyri?
I was looking for accessories to buy for one of my outfits, and did not like anything that was available in the stores. That is when I thought I could try making my own accessories, and I did. I wore my creation, and received a lot of compliments for it. Friends asked where I got it from. That encouraged me, and I played around some more with beads, stones, wires and paper and showed the finished products to friends. The most amazing part was that all of the finished products were gone in no time! I realised that I would like make jewellery as a part-time business, and that's how the whole story began.
How do you cope with competition from other similar businesses?
Koyri is still in a fledgling state, and I don't have the key demographics to make big business decisions but, frankly, I think only newer, prettier and more unique designs will keep me alive in the market.
How big is your team, presently?
It is a one-woman army mostly, when it comes to making the designs. I try to outsource some of the mundane tasks like inventory management, billing, sending out couriers, packaging, etc. to my husband. So, you could say we have a team of two at the moment, since the other tasks are equally important.
I'd like to add that my friends have been very kind. One friend offered to do the website, another designed the logo. So, Koyri is about a lot of people and not just me.
What are the major challenges that you face?
One of the biggest challenges that I face is building an audience. My Facebook page is liked mostly by friends, friends of friends, and acquaintances. Market penetration is a big obstacle right now, because I do not have the funds to actually advertise anywhere.
Do you have a retail outlet for your products, or are most of your sales through your website?
I do stock some of my products at a retail outlet called The Art Shop in Pune. I also held a small exhibition at a bookstore called Twistntales in 2011. However, most of my sales are through my website and Facebook page. I largely rely on word-of-mouth publicity that fans of Koyri offer.
What are your expansion plans in the near future?
I wish to train people, and then, have them repeat the designs that I have created. I can concentrate on making newer designs that way.
What have been your proudest moments as an entrepreneur?
I feel very proud when people tell me that I have the potential to take up jewellery making on a full-time basis. Some have even offered to invest capital to help me get started! Apart from this, the compliments I receive from everyone on my designs make my day. Out of the blue, I get e-mails/SMSes from friends and relatives stating how proud they are of me, and that makes me immeasurably happy.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Don't turn down any opportunity that comes your way. Don't stop - keep at it.