We want you to meet Sweta Patra from New Delhi, India. She is the owner of Ethnics Land and has been in business since 2018.
What does your dream life look like? Are you currently living in it?
My dream life is that of peace – externally as well as internally. In that sense, I am living my dream. I am at peace but yes there is lots of hard work and guts needed to run a business and create something of your own. I am doing that too and it gives me a different sort of satisfaction as well as peace. I am grateful to God for this all.
Tell us about what you do.
I run my own online Handloom Saris business online shop called Ethnics Land.
It’s a one-stop destination for authentic Indian handloom sarees and fancy ethnic sarees.
Whether you’re looking for something to wear to your office, a special occasion like a wedding or festival, or just something comfortable for everyday use, we have the perfect saree for you.
Our selection includes Odisha Handloom Berhampuri Patta Sari, sustainable and ethical sarees in Organic Natural Dyes called Ajrakh Modal Silk Sarees, Authentic Tussar Silk Sarees, Mulmul Cotton, Khadi Cotton, Maheshwari Silk, Kashmiri Sarees, Chanderi Silk, Organza, Maharashtrian Khan / Khun, Chhattisgarh Handloom, Narayanpeth Handloom, Kasuti Sarees, and Ilkal Sarees.
I want to give back to society by helping the artisans and we work with artisans all across the country. We have built a good network and believe in the importance of long-term business associations.
The items in your shop are beautiful. What inspired you to get started?
From the beginning I have been quite creative, I enjoy designing, art, painting, and classical dance, but I chose journalism as my career.
Then I took a year’s break and then when I tried to find a job back it was not working out so I decided to start my own thing and as handloom gelled well with my creative bent of mind I chose that.
Also, the entry barrier was not that and I could start small and then grow at my own pace. It is challenging work but that challenge is in all areas of work.
Having worked for several years with television news channels like CNBC TV18 and NewsX I thought why not start something of my own and here I am with Ethnics Land.
You’ve been in business for several years now. What’s a challenge you’ve faced along your entrepreneurial journey?
The Corona crisis has taught us and many like us – small entities who are engaged in business mainly on social media platforms and on e-commerce marketplaces – many things as to how to maneuver operations and manage customer expectations.
During Covid times even though the product got dispatched many times it got stuck at some logistics partner warehouse, and there could not be a movement for quite some time for genuine reasons.
The first important lesson has been to keep your supply lines intact during any crisis.
You just need to keep a constant eye on the inventory, keep in touch with your buyers and also be in touch with your backup artisans, weavers, and suppliers and continuously manage product demand.
Another lesson is to keep communication open and transparent especially with the customers, as several of them are excited about their selected products and would want to have them at the expected time. So clear communication will keep them updated with the latest on their products.
How has being an introvert affected your business?
To be very frank, it has not really affected my business much but yes being an introvert has helped me grow and make better and smart decisions.
I am a very creative person and I believe in doing my work silently and remaining focused. I am very passionate and I always think before I act.
I definitely see it as an advantage. Wherever needed, in case of any crisis (in terms of client servicing, marketing, from the weaver’s end, logistics, etc) in the company, I do discuss the same with my team and resolve it.
What methods do you use to bring in new customers?
We are a small business and we use various platforms and tools to get exposure for our products and services in the market. We are always transparent about the products that we display on our website and other top-selling platforms and this helps.
We also use email marketing and work on SEO and other keywords so that it helps us our target audience.
Is attending networking events a part of your marketing strategy?
It ultimately depends a lot on the kind of services you provide and the best offer and good products that you provide. We are a 4-year-old firm and we have worked mostly during Covid and learned so much about doing things online.
Now that things are opening up more we will certainly look at attending industry events to know more about tools, technology, and platforms that can help us in our business.
Especially with so much happening on the artificial intelligence front like ChatGPT and Bing as our business depends much on being discovered best online by new customers looking for handloom products from across the globe.
How do you define success for yourself and your business?
For me success is happiness. As far as my business is concerned I want to do something for society, providing enough work to the real artisans in the world of handloom.
We want to keep working with artisans on a repeated basis as they know exactly the kind of work you want for the customers and also how you work. I believe in long-term business associations.
The same is when dealing with buyers from different places and with different choices. You learn how to meet those requirements with patience. This helps in repeat customers, customer delight, and better growth for my small growing business.
And this is success and happiness for me in business.
What advice would you give to other introverted women who are just starting their own businesses?
Entrepreneurship is fulfilling but there is a lot of hard work and one should be ready for that mentally and physically.
In that sense, it isn’t for everybody. I mean everybody could like technically do it but you really need to have that inner drive and understanding that it’s not going to be the smoothest path of your life because there will be a lot of figure-out moments.
You have to evaluate for yourself whether is it riskier to stay where you’re at the moment or is it worth the risk.
Listen to your inner voice, and don’t depend on your friends and relatives to come forward and support you in your business as they would not be able to do that all the time.
So look at forming formal partnerships with whomever you want to take your idea forward with (or even alone but you must know that!) and then jump into this with full passion and energy. Tweak products and strategies along the way as you learn.
And success will happen.
Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Where can our readers find more information about you?