It took a full year in the making. Quit my job in January 2020 and by the time we planned to launch our business COVID-19 had already arrived. What options was I left with?
On paper our plan seemed perfect. Enter a category of yet uncrowded market of manufacturing Sustainable / EcoFriendly Home Decor Linens focussed in the affordable Luxury segment. Use India’s strength in textiles and affordable artisans and build a 100% export oriented business targeting Western Countries like US, Canada, Germany, France amongst others. Start with the US and scale up to other markets in the US and North America.
Little did we know that humanity was soon going to be facing its biggest challenge let alone our startup. India reported its first COVID-19 case on 30th Jan 2020 and for us it was still a distant reality. The production was going full speed and we had always planned to use the air express courier to expedite the dispatch to the US warehouse in February 2020, not realising yet the unforeseen aftermath of the biggest challenge that mankind was about to witness.
Our first consignment reached the Amazon US warehouse by Feb end and by early March we had some excellent initial traction which was quite motivating for us. Just then the distant reality of Coronavirus became a living nightmare as it engulfed the entire world. We couldn’t ignore it anymore. Most of the European countries and the US are still badly hit by this novel virus, and now even India announced a complete lockdown from Mar 25.
A little after our launch we received a communication from Amazon.com that they had stopped receiving any new shipment of non essential goods. We were fortunate that we had chosen air shipment else in all likelihood our first shipment, like several others would have been stranded at the port of departure or arrival or maybe at sea itself.
We got through March with better than projected sales and excellent customer review and just as we got into April it started showing signs of rough sailing. Sales in our segment are already down about 70 percent in the US. With the economy crashing in the US surely many people might have deferred or entirely dropped their non essential expenses. Some states are in lock down mode, no house parties, no celebrations, no gatherings at home, no gifting are reasons that will also impact sales of products like ours to a fair degree.
Additionally, with India being in a state of total lockdown, we have had to hold on to our forward production plans as well. In our first dispatch we had sent just a limited range of colours and sizes of tablecloth, table runners, dinner napkins of 100% pure European Flax Linen. Ours indeed is the finest linen that money can buy given that it is Certified by Bureau Veritas - the official certifying agency of CLC - which produces the best French and Belgian Flax Linen. We had also sent a limited size range of our pure hemp semi sheer curtains in white colour that offer more than 95% UV rays protection. Our plan was to initiate manufacturing the moment we get a feel from our customers that they like our product, in order to send many more colours and all the size options. The customer feedback has been overwhelmingly wonderful, but we have no idea when we will be able to reinitiate production, now that India is in an extended lockdown mode till May 3rd.
So as a professional who quit the comfort of her high flying, well paid corporate career of 12 years to turn an entrepreneur, could have possibly not chosen a tougher period than this in the history of mankind perhaps. What are my options, is a question that often comes to my mind.
A few things come to my aid to help me provide with the much needed confidence and clarity. One I have a very strong support of my husband, who is with me in this journey as much as I am. He has lived through more than his share of ups and downs in life and he assured me that this too will pass, that mankind is too resilient to be bogged down by a virus for too long. Two, a realisation that I am still one of the fortunate ones - in these tough times, there would be many that might go under and might not be able to stand as a business hereafter. Thus, it becomes that much more important for me to continue with my journey as an entrepreneur to be determined to contribute to the economic cycle of the world, to create value for my customers by bringing on a wave for sustainable home decor that is desperately needed to save the planet for our future generation like our son Moksh . I must go on for the sake of my team to create employment for each one of them and many more in the future and for myself to be unwavering in my resolve to make D’Moksha Homes a brand, a Private Label that I dream it to be.
This too shall pass and the Sun will shine, there will be smiles all around.
I would ask the reader to share your thoughts and advice to me and other entrepreneurs like me who might have just started their business bang in the middle of COVID-19. Any encouragement is like a ray of much needed hope.
Share and comment below.