“It feels great to work for yourself. You get to experiment and learn without waiting for approval from someone else and also learn how to be responsible,” says 23-year-old Manasi Nangnure who takes care of the social media marketing needs of Adnya, a small business run by the collective efforts of her mother and her family.
In conversation with Sruthi Bhat for the #volocal campaign, an initiative by News Aur Chai Media, Manasi Nangnure shared an encouraging story about her family’s small scale business.
Adnya began with Nangnure’s mother, Nanda, who after quitting her teaching job, wanted to contribute to the family income and keep herself busy as her daughters grew older. After enrolling Manasi’s sister in a bag making course, she, who was already proficient in stitching began to learn the art of making bags from her daughter and began to start experimenting with various designs, even after her daughter discontinued.
“She slowly began to share pictures of the bags to her circle of friends and taking in small orders,” said Nangnure, while explaining how the business began. “As our network started to expand, so did the number of orders and we slowly started selling our bags in exhibitions as well.”
After receiving overwhelming feedback about their products, especially because of their quality, design, and the rise in popularity of cotton bags over plastic ones, Nangnure and her mother decided to create their brand.
Nangnure, who holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, set about creating the logo, tagline, and brand identity. They settled on Adnya, with a tagline that says “Embrace the Classic’, since most of the cloth being used was Khadi cotton and the designs used to style them were traditional Indian ones like Ikat, Kalamkari, Madhubani and block print.
“Adnya stands for the letters A-Z in Marathi.” explains Nangnure, “We chose the name as we create bags of all shapes and sizes- starting from small pouches to big travel bags.”
The organization has since then begun to expand, sourcing material from handloom workers and now has two other people working on production along with Nanda, her husband, and her friend. The rest of the team consists of Nangnure, who manages social media planning, posts, and ads along with working on online orders; her cousin and her friend help her with photoshoots of the finished product and creating posts for their official social media handles.
When asked about how they were able to manage their finances during the journey, Nangnure explained that since it was started on a smaller scale, the initial investment was low. However, as they began to expand, they saw the need to invest personal savings and borrow money from friends to source raw materials for bigger orders.
“We’ve now applied for a loan under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) as we plan to expand to a larger scale of business,” she said.
Like several other small businesses, Adnya has faced its fair share of losses as a result of the nation-wide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nangnure talked about how though they’d been shut down for the past month, they had enough material to start production. However, new fabric and material have to be sourced, once they run out.
“We had planned to tour handlooms to search for newer designs, textiles, and fabric for production but that had to be cancelled due to the lockdown. We are still unsure if we can do it soon. Around two-three exhibitions that were supposed to happen have been postponed as well. No sales have occurred either,” she sighs.
The focus is currently on social media now, with difficulty in offline sales due to the lockdown.
“Initially there were no delivery services available, so we simply took in orders and kept a record for when the services would begin again,” said Nangnure. “Once they did, we had to send them via speed post, though we prefer Indian Post due to their reasonable shipping charges.”
When asked about their future plans, she replies that along with expanding their reach through platforms other than Instagram, they also hope to create their website.
“We are currently producing masks and scarfs to meet the demands of the current situation,” she explains, “And we are also hoping to design and introduce men’s products as well.”
Check out Adnya’s Instagram page here for a plethora of traditionally designed ethnic bags of all shapes and sizes.