After spending a decade working in London and India, Varun Kumar went to the Himalayas to escape the concrete jungle and the monotony of corporate work. There he was taken by the beauty of the ancient art of pashmina and alarmed at the poverty of the gifted craftsmen who produce it. Today, the owner of New Delhi-based Pashmina gives 5% of his proceeds back to the 100 artisan families it works with while bringing this “soft gold’ to the world.
Tell your company story
Centuries ago, when the ancient city of Srinagar nurtured the delicate skill of pashmina weaving and perfected it into the splendid craft of Kashmiri shawls, the work had a value.
In spite of thousands of people across the globe admiring their work, what these craftsmen earn isn’t enough to meet their basic family needs.
Our purpose of being in this sector is to initiate a change. We believe Pashmina is a treasure — the soft gold, transformed into a masterpiece by the majestic touch of a trained craftsman.
So on 9th June, 2017, I founded Pashmina. We sell cashmere shawls, stoles, saris and hijabs to lovers of beauty all over the world.
Stamp of approval
Pashmina has a tie-up with the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India, for getting every Pashmina we buy from our artisans to be individually certified.Can you share insight with those just starting a business?
From my experience, there are a couple of things that I would truly suggest to young entrepreneurs who are venturing into any space:
Only start a business when your vision toward that idea is so strong that it doesn’t let you sleep at night.
Hence, don’t start a venture just to replicate a success story or because your friends are doing it too.
An idea is nothing unless it’s well executed. So do a lot of preliminary research and collect secondary data around the:
- Potential demand for your product or service
Only then will you be ready to take the next step and choose a name.
Please share your advice for others
1. Spend time on your business name
I strongly believe brand name plays a very, very important role in whether people can easily recall the business. So spend time in finding the right name for your business.
You will also need a domain name and the easiest option for this is GoDaddy — that’s what I have always used.
There are several things to keep in mind while choosing your domain name:
In addition to choosing what appears before the dot in your web address, you can also choose what appears after the dot. This is the domain extension, and there are hundreds to choose from.You probably know that .com is the king, but it is also the right choice if you are going global. However, if you are establishing an Indian-focussed business, then you can go ahead with the Indian domain extensions of .co.in or .in. This tells people at-a-glance that your business is located in India.
There are a few ways to name your website. A person owning a business called Delhi Fashion Studio could choose a domain name such as DelhiStudio.com or DelhiFashion.com, for example.
There are also category-based names such as FashionStudio.com, fStudio.com etc. Finally, there are branded domains where you define a unique brand name for your business and get the matching domain name, as we did with Pashmina.com.
Do you have a great idea? Type the domain you want in the box
2. While building the tech, find the right partners
In our case, there are two kinds of partners we have relied upon from the start:
For us it was Godaddy, as it was easiest to have our domain names, hosting, email and security setup all at one place.
The best and safest bet is to have a tech partner who can support you if you are a non-tech entrepreneur like me. If you do decide to sail alone and build a custom website for your business, let me tell you it’s one hell of a difficult ride.
So double- and triple-check the agencies or partners you consider for building your tech. Trust the one who maps your requirements out and then suggests much more based on their experience.
3. Educate yourself on the basics
Once you have enlisted the help of trusted partners, you will need to master a few things:
Managing finances is a big deal and cash flow is a constant issue, so be careful while planning your financials.
Take the advice of a person who spent 10 years doing international marketing: digital marketing is something else. So don’t join a degree program or hire someone to help you before you help yourself in learning.
For me, after trying several ways to learn, I ended up listening to Neil Patel. His Marketing School podcasts are 15 minutes each and there are 1350+ episodes — all free. I learnt more through that hands-on than I could from any degree or school.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
Dreams are easy, ideas are plenty, execution is the key, reality is difficult and being persistent is the only way to success.
Thank you for sharing your dream with us, Varun — we’re especially impressed that the name you chose for your business is also a high-traffic keyword. To see what’s new at Pashmina, stop by their Instagram or Facebook page, or find their website at Pashmina.com.