IT’S POSSIBLE TO BEAT ALL ODDS IF YOU HAVE CONVICTION, PASSION AND A WILLINGNESS TO TAKE RISKS
Shubhra Chadda, co-founder, Chumbak, on beating the odds and following her passion
In her kingdom of kitsch, quirk not only works, it rules every shelf, nook and corner. Shubhra Chadda, the 36-year-old co-founder, Chumbak, turned a start-up into a successful business. Having done her Bachelors in Commerce from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, she went on to complete her Masters Degree in public relations, advertising, and applied communication from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan in Delhi. After they got married, she and her husband, Vivek Prabhakar realised that they could not find cool magnets or souvenirs that represented India. So they quit their jobs, did research on the product and market segment and launched Chumbak (magnet in Hindi) in 2010. Today they retail a whole gamut of lifestyle products, such as apparel, furniture, cell phone cases, bubbleheads, bags, wallets, home decor, footwear, and stationery.
Hard work pays
When Chadda started Chumbak in 2010, she had no experience in design or retail and had to learn on the job. “I spent over a year researching and sourcing all that was required to start Chumbak. It was a lot of hard work setting the foundation right. Having and creating an extensive network of people for support also helped us grow Chumbak to make it what it is today,” says Chadda. In fact, initially to fuel her dreams Chadda sold her house. “I followed my instinct and was thoroughly convinced to bring Chumbak to the market. So if you have the conviction and are willing to take the risk, then I recommend that beat all odds and share with people the thing that you are most passionate about at whatever cost,” she says.
Formulate a plan
“It’s important to have proof of a concept and present a practical business model. Early investors look for a passionate partner. Make sure your idea is unique and is being presented in a unique way,” says Chadda. The success of Chadda’s working style is her clear business model. “When we started, the focus then was to bring to the untapped souvenir market a set of products and designs that tickle the humour of the Indian consumer,” she says. “Typically we follow a seasonal cycle where I sit with the head of design and the design team to decide the theme of the collection. Then, we research, gather inspiration and begin designing, keeping the aesthetic intact,” adds Chadda.
Finding the right platform
In the initial years Chadda and her husband started with several pop-up shops, but now they find large format stores better for their brand. They even sell their ware online. “Today customers are omnipresent, so having a presence both online and offline are great ways to reach out to new and existing customers and offer the convenience of shopping. The structure of the team is very open and designers are free to create designs that best represent Chumbak, while also bringing their unique styles to the table,” says the entrepreneur.
Chadda’s advice for college students is simple—“Pursue your dream and be completely passionate about what you plan on doing.” And for those wanting to start a start-up—“Getting your hands dirty, being involved in every function of the business is the best way to learn and grow your brand.” Not surprisingly, the advice that she follows herself happens to be her own store’s philosophy—‘brand trumps everything else’.
SHUBHRA CHADDA CO-FOUNDER, CHUMBAK