We talked to Rajiv H Ramnani of ArtyOwl about the handmade industry and Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rajiv H Ramnani: We are doing fine and proud to be a part of the COVID Frontline warriors for my city and glad I could make myself useful during these trying times for humanity. The pandemic is one part, and the other is the after-effects that come as a surprise package in the form of economic and logical restrictions.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ArtyOwl.
Rajiv H Ramnani: I founded this company ArtyOwl.com in 2015 with the idea to provide all small, micro, and macro artisans who make handmade products on one single platform to sell their produce locally and globally. I visited a handmade products sale in 2015 in Mumbai and found the artisan had no way to sell only via Facebook page or offline exhibitions. They couldn’t accept online payments nor had any logistic support. That’s when the idea struck me ArtyOwl was born. ArtyOwl became the solution partner for all these people in India to start with and slowly moving towards the USA, Finland, UK, Australia, and more. Our Artisans are women Entrepreneurs, NGOs (Non-Government Organizations), SHG (Self Help Groups), Tribals, and much more. We are currently hosting 350 plus artisans selling 9000 plus products across categories like Home Décor, Food, Fashion & Personal Care.
How does ArtyOwl innovate?
Rajiv H Ramnani: We have a unique curation process where we make sure genuine, handmade products are listed and sold. We regularly keep in touch with our vendors/sellers/artisans and innovate, improvise their pain points from listing to order to packaging, etc.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rajiv H Ramnani: Corona pandemic was harsh on various industries and including the handmade industry. The e-commerce model started doing wonders as people could not venture out, and hence calling products made of genuine materials, zero preservatives. Non-machine made started making sense to customers. The major setback we face is a shortage of people due to scarce public transport, and SOPs of the lesser workforce is really affecting our growth story.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rajiv H Ramnani: The most difficult challenge so far was finding, surfacing, and winning the trust of all these artisans. They had typical ways of selling their products and with little knowledge of their global appeal. Our vision is GLOBAL, and we will achieve the same by taking their reach and treasures Global. The simplified process of onboarding to selling it’s what makes it challenging, and we have to keep evolving all the time. Post-COVID, we see a surge in demand and supply.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Rajiv H Ramnani: Stress management is not very easy, but ideally, the best way to manage it is by feeling happy about what I have done so far rather than stress about what’s not come.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rajiv H Ramnani: We have various competitors now compared to when we started, but we clearly have the first-mover advantage, and however similar any business can be, the approach and the mindset of the company differs largely. Our main competitors are Etsy.com, Qtrove.com, to name a couple. Our curation and handholding process really makes us different, and our ability to take artisans Hyperlocal and Global at the same time matters.