Vibrant colours. Distinct designs. Weaves galore. Pochampally. Benarasi. No, I am not talking about designer wear but designer gear that makes you feel creative and work as a muse for your projects. Rangroute is a cool online store which offers a range of useful everyday products that are smothered with Indian weaves (Journals, Pen holders, purses, photo frames et al are few of their products). If you love handcrafts then the products by Rangroute will bowl you over.
A tete-a-tete with the mind behind the idea of rangroute.
How did you think of Rang route?
I still remember the first time I stepped into a Fab India store and inside my head somebody screamed ‘there goes my idea’. Handicrafts to me has always been a lot more than exhibition or décor items. I personally believed that handicrafts in an everyday world meant a lot more to our country and its progress. And with this as an innate concept and subsequent passion, journey of rangroute began.
Traditional handicrafts see more than 70% exports whereas less than 30% is used domestically. Our own economy is accepting more foreign made goods in mass consumption and letting go our homegrown artisans’ efforts and fruits. Handicrafts don’t need to be part of exhibitions but an idea of everyday life through customised utilitarian products. Rangroute was about setting this up and providing an answer.
Who are the people behind RR?
While the genesis of the idea and the initial plan was with me (Siddharth), I realized post initial progress along the idea that the scale was too big for one person alone. And there were verticals which needed specific skills and intent to be shared by a compatible partner.
Discovering that was probably an important part of rangroute journey, someone to share my load and who had complimentary skill sets. Amit who came from a business background knew well how to go about setting a new business with things like vendor onboarding, planning inventories, managing working capital etc as his natural strengths. Post a lot of conversations over coffee, tea and at times nothing, Rangroute had Amit on board. Today as a duo we have sketched almost everything that is the team today and in due process we have found our working areas with him concentrating on vendor onboarding, operations and associated aspects, I on the other hand handle overall strategy, customer engagements, social media and financials.
How long did it take from the idea to the execution?
As a person I was always bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Ever since I was out of college I was making plans to start a venture. It took a great 10 years of corporate life for me to finally start working on my passion and to that effect rangroute took 10 years coming. However I finally started to work all out on the rangroute plan a couple of years back and the result was a 42 Page Detailed Business Plan. It was this plan that finally saw me and Amit going all out for the execution of earlier this year.
How has your journey been so far?
It took me some serious data crunching, research on the sector, identification of the opportunities that existed and the building of a detailed business case that finally gave shape to rangroute as we now have it. Amit joined me in the month of January 2016 and we set out executing the plan that we had so carefully made.
With a well-drawn out social media strategy, the artist vendor pipeline, the logistics and packaging norms set, the pricing strategy in place, registration of the company done etc. we were confident of realizing a few numbers immediately. However as providence would have it the initial days were a lot of struggle with the vendors, arranging for in person customer appointments, building media and sales kits to be presented and not to mention the tiring and never ending travels that still are a part of our lives.
But it was not late before we started to actually see orders drop in. We were all poised to enter the B2B side of business instead of the B2C but we also had to make do with retail orders in order to have the brand established.
I believe it is all handcrafted, how do you manage to procure the raw materials? Anything you would like to share?
Since our products are meant for actual everyday use we need the input materials to be strong and durable. We need to factor in the quality of all the raw materials while designing our products.
For example the Phulkari craft that you see these days is usually machine made and at times also done on machines in China. We on the other hand ensure that we use only the authentic handmade work by the original artisans. The touch, feel and aesthetics are clearly different and the user can make out the difference instantly.
Today, more people are attracted towards hand loom and with the attractive products you create, it definitely is an addition in most people’s list of to buy. How do you feel about that?
Absolutely. It is a vindication of sorts of the ideas I set off with a couple of years back. People would love to get associated with the pride their motherland has to offer. Its about how you actually package and present it for them to see worth in them and enjoy their use. We at rangroute are here to bring about that change.
A typical day at Rang route? Who are the workers involved?
A day at rangroute (as would be the case with any new startup) starts with a list of chores that needed to be done yesterday or the day before. It gets followed by juggling between doing the things on hand as well as the ones that need to be done today to ensure your ship is on track tomorrow. Customer calls, emails and social media messages need to be monitored for immediate closure. We believe the next gen ventures are going to be successful based on their ability to immediately respond repeatedly along with the ability to establish a personal connect with their customers. The interaction with artisans ensuring the deliverables is also a key area that requires continual focus on a daily level.
/Rangroute is an active group online and they respond quickly. Personally, I loved their journal and carry it everywhere. Check their site: rangroute.com for designs and details./