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01 Oct 2022, 05:09 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • Meet women 'Covidprenuers' who used lockdowns, WFH to launch their own successful businesses

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14:15 HRS IST

New Delhi, Mar 8 (PTI) Opening a new venture in the chaotic times of Covid when even the long established ones faced a serious threat of shutting down, seemed crazy, if not suicidal, to most business minds.

But ask the new breed of 'Covidprenuers' -- a new term used to describe individuals or businesses that thrive in the pandemic environment -- and they tell you how it proved to be an opportunity like never before.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, PTI gives a peek into the lives of five young and successful female Covidprenuers who made the best use of the worst of times.

Kamakshi Agarwala, founder of shapewear brand Butt-Chique: Launching a female-led 'Made for Indian' women shapewear brand in a male-dominated lingerie industry is easier said than done. Plus the Covid-induced lockdown and men mansplaining 'why it was impossible' can bog down any budding entrepreneur. But not Agarwala who had made up her mind, and most importantly her designs

On May 9, 2020 -- India still under lockdown -- she launched 'Butt-Chique'. With over 50,000 customers already in her kitty, and most of the products getting sold out within weeks, the 25-year-old designer is happy seeing things go as envisaged

Inspired by her father -- also an entrepreneur -- Delhi-based Agarwala believes in creating job and growth opportunities for others and building a psychological safe space for women to flourish.

Richa Jaggi, Co-founder, cannabis wellness startup Awshad: The struggle to find high-quality cannabidiol (CBD) medicines for her dog suffering from cancer was fresh in the mind of Richa Jaggi. So when in 2019 her beloved pet 'Champ' died, Delhi-based Jaggi, who had been working in the corporate sector for the past one decade, found a purpose in her life -- to make high-quality clinically-tested CBD accessible to the Indian market

The mandatory 'work-from-home' due to Covid and subsequent lockdowns in 2020 proved to be a catalyst for the 32-year-old entrepreneurial journey as she used the time to do research and product development for her venture

Later, she quit her full-time job and co-founded 'Awshad' in 2021

With her startup witnessing a growth of over "400 per cent" in terms of sales, Jaggi is confident about becoming market leaders in India in the cannabis wellness domain

Sheetal Saxena, founder, Colocal cafe: The 32-year-old Saxena was designing Colocal's artisanal chocolate store in Dhanmill Compound, Chhattarpur when the Covid-19 pandemic hit India in March, 2020

With the big and mighty of the restaurant industry bracing themselves for the worst, Saxena, who has done her Masters in Finance, decided to take a leap of faith and set out to achieve what she calls her "chocolaty ambitions"

She managed to launch the first store in November 2020. God was kind, and so were Delhiites who instantly fell in love with arguably India's first live bean-to-bar chocolate factory with a casual dining caf?.

Such was the demand for her Indian craft chocolates that she opened her second outlet in the high-street Khan Market next year to satiate the taste buds of her patrons

The "passion project", which was started by Saxena at an initial investment of Rs 85 lakhs, has generated a turnover of Rs 3.5 crore in the very first year of operation

Leading a team of 75 employees, and with one more store in the offing in Delhi-NCR, the former ICICI bank Wealth Manager now plans to expand the capacity of our chocolate factory from "800 kilo to 2000 kilo a month"

Ruchi Pathak, founder, home furnishing brand Orahana: Art has always been the favourite hobby of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) graduate Ruchi Pathak. Stuck at her home in Jaipur due to lockdown, she used the opportunity to build a business out of her hobby

She mixed her talent with the academics to launch home furnishing and apparel brand 'Orahana' -- the term derived from the Hawaiian word 'Ohana', meaning ?home', with the initial letter of her name ?R' -- during the first lockdown in May 2020

While experiments with raw materials such as fabrics, tassels and wool gave her products the aesthetic appeal; the use of technology and presence on different social platforms, especially, her WhatsApp Business account, gave her access to consumers and vendors across the country

Pathak's lockdown brainchild 'Orahana', which started with an allowance of Rs 10,000 per month, has become a fully functioning enterprise in less than two years with a solid customer base. In fact, even after being a niche business, the company managed to generate a turnover of Rs 15 lakhs last year

Nehaa Juneja, founder, SkinWorks: 'Just go ahead and make an Instagram page, don't bother about results'. This one-liner advice to 34-year-old Nehaa Juneja by her husband during the March lockdown is what set the ball rolling for cosmetic brand 'SkinWorks'

Next, before anyone knew she put Beetroot Lip Scrub up for sale, and a request for order was placed through an Instagram message. With little infrastructure set up and almost no professional help initially, her house's living room became a manufacturing unit-cum-assembly-point.

The rest is a victory tale of Juneja's perseverance and hard work

From almost zero sales in 2020 to generating a turnover of whooping Rs 35 lakh in 2021, the brand 'SkinWorks' worked and how

Ready to test the waters in the retail sector, the company, which will turn two next month, has a number of new launches planned, including face oils and a full-fledged make-up range for children.

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