Since ages, we have been using art as an expression of our thoughts, desires and ideas. Looking at a visual form of art triggers the emotional and cognitive areas of our brain which taps its pleasure and reward system. That is probably why i was fascinated by iMithila’s Madhubani painting designs while researching for this article.
We interviewed our client iMithila to know how they created a brand selling products adorned by beautiful Madhubani art. It was an interesting story to say in the least, and here’s our full conversation:
Give me a brief Introduction to your business idea and What makes it special?
iMithila is India’s fastest growing brand in Madhubani Product Category. Madhubani Painting, also known as Mithila Painting, is among the oldest art forms of the world. We have worked towards expanding these painting designs from traditional mural form to newer, more widely used modern products like wall clocks in home decor to Sarees and Stoles in the apparel category.
Our journey so far has been an experience which can’t be shared in words. We have been striving to find a relevant application of Indian art forms in modern products for everyday use. In the process, we ended up creating a totally unique brand that has several takers who appreciate the craftsmanship.
Tell us about your products?
We are continuously expanding our product portfolio through innovation. As a start-up, we don’t shy away from taking risks or not being successful in our first attempt. We started with Books and Paintings, and have expanded to products in categories such as Wall Clocks and Sarees with Madhubani art.
In apparel, we started with Madhubani Tussar Silk Saree and today have a choice of Madhubani sarees in Mulberry Silk, Kota Silk, Paper Silk, Jute Cotton and Ghicha Silk. All these products are manufactured and then handpainted in a Madhubani painting art form. All our products are hand painted.
What is Your motto/ business ideology?
iMithila aims to grow as many folk art painting forms as possible. We aim to be known as a brand that engages in selling contemporary products with traditional design forms. From a successful eCommerce business, we are now expanding our reach to global markets as well as entering into a brick and mortar model. Our motto is to make auspicious Mithila art a part of every home and office space.
Tell us something about yourself?(History of work/ education)
The story is certainly unique. A 30-year-old investment banker Ruchi Jha decided to give up her job and start a business together with a 65-year-old retired university professor, Renuka Kumari. Why? Because both of us shared the same passion towards Mithila art design and believed in promoting our culture and traditions via traditional art forms like Madhubani paintings.
What was the motivation behind going online?
E-Commerce is the right channel for us to test our products viability and popularity. We are making our products in such a way that they appeal to the regular modern Indian buyer. E-commerce lets us test that acceptability with a very wide audience in a short span of time. Also, cost of doing business and management of inventory is much easier. Hence we have been motivated to work on an online model.
Who helped you to start your business?
Some industry veterans helped us out in initial planning looking at the cause of our business. Being an MBA from K J Somaiya, I could plan out multiple things on my own. However, for most of the support and advice, I bank on my husband who is an expert on product management, go to market and business development.
What were the Challenges faced by you?
We are not a run of the mill eCommerce company selling a common product in a known sweet pricing spot. In fact, we are innovating and improving in a niche art design form and not sure of the product acceptance, price points and revenue which can generate substantial revenue from a category. That makes our journey challenging but also exciting. In a short span of time, we have been recognized among 32 Super Startups alongside many established players.
How did you put your E-Commerce business in the Spotlight?
Social media, blogs and media coverage is a great way to push an e-commerce brand. Since our products are unique, it has been easier for us to establish our presence. Zepo Marketing is also a great tool and it has helped generate good sales numbers. We would also like to recommend Zepo Couriers for on time delivery. It improves our customer experience which helps to improve our rating on social media.
Share something about your target audience, reach(Location).
Our target audience is generally women in apparel category and men in home decor. Zepo has provided a very easy to understand graphical user interface for the iMithila website. It helps us to convert even elderly women with limited computer knowledge, and they are an additional source of revenue. Initially, our orders were from metros. Currently, our orders are evenly distributed between metros and Class B and C towns. With Zepo Couriers covering more than 10,000 pin codes, our target location and orders are evenly spread.
What’s the next plan for your business?
We plan to expand our product portfolio of Handpainted Madhubani art to modern Western wear. That will expand the market segment we are currently targeting. We also plan to increase our exports thus increasing our geographical coverage. This two-pronged strategy of expansion in both product and reach shall fuel our growth even faster and firmly establish iMithila as the market leader brand in Handpainted Indian Folk Artspace.
Why should people come online to sell?
Online sales are the best go to market strategy. It is like opening multiple shops in multiple cities with one inventory. E-Commerce analytics also helps to reach the right target audience, track the audience and analyse customer behavior. Hence the ROI is high in online business and one should sell online, especially SME’s.
Any inspiring thoughts for aspiring eCommerce entrepreneurs?
eCommerce is no more about an overnight success. Indian e-commerce has passed that stage. It is a very easy go to market strategy. However, start-up is about self-belief backed by intensive research. The “Eureka moment” arrives when you live and breath your goal. For Archimedes, it arrived when he went to bath still thinking about his research. So live your goal and there is no reason any dream can’t be achieved.
E-Commerce helped iMithila promote an ancient, traditional art form to the entire nation with great success. They have not only managed to educate the masses about Madhubani art, but their venture has been a boon for the artisans who painstakingly create gorgeous masterpieces by hand. If you have an idea that has massive potential, then take the first step and leverage the power of E-Commerce and start your online brand.
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