Meet 23-year old Navya Agarwal, a product design graduate specialising in wood handicrafts. When she returned to her hometown in Sitapur, a small town in Uttar Pradesh to focus on her final project, little did she know she’d never go back to explore bustling cities and an exciting corporate life.
Navya founded I Value Every Idea (IVEI) three years ago, with a hope that ‘every idea will find its rightful place in this world, if it is built upon in the rightful manner.’
Recalling the days before she decided to start IVEI, Navya says,
“I identified four carpenters and asked them to create miniature versions of what I eventually wanted them to make, just to be convinced of their skills. But the end products were so perfect that I was pleasantly surprised at their mastery of traditional techniques without relying on modern machinery.”
Throwing light on why these people remain underemployed, Navya found the Lack of exposure to the ever-changing urban markets, which are the biggest buyers, an inability to continually upgrade their skills – mainly due to monetary deficits.
Then she decided to start small, so that she could address the gaps successfully. In 2013, she took a loan of Rs 3, 50, 000 from her father and founded ‘I Value Every Idea’.
She set up a small workshop with a team of 12 craftsmen, including a housemaid who used to make wooden bangles, a young girl who loved mehndi designing, all of whom came purely through word of mouth. Navya would give the wood workers the basic designs and once the products were ready, they would go to women who’d design on them using acrylic paints, broken bangles, and crochet.
To market the products, she opened a shop named ‘Sunday Soul Sante’ in Bengaluru where her first sales was just Rs 20,000. She incurred losses, but the response mattered more to her. People appreciated their products, which meant Navya and her team were on the right track.
In 2014, came the life-changing moment for IVEI, when they received an order for 500 whiteboard calendars from Delhi-based Eco sense. The project gave her good profits, which she shared with her team and IVEI was able to tie up with e-commerce players such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon and also get corporate orders.
In the first year, IVEI made Rs 1, 00, 000 in revenues, an amount that could dishearten anyone, but Navya worked tirelessly. Last year, the team clocked a revenue of Rs 18, 00, 000.
By the end of this year, Navya is looking at increasing her team strength to about 40 craftsmen. But most importantly, she says,
“I want my team to continue finding joy in what they are doing. In the end, that’s what matters the most.”