Undeterred by the pandemic, Bhawana Manoj Deswani launched an Instagram store to help bring business to her family-run boutique. She started by selling masks and now sells hair accessories and apparel online.
Like most businesses, Bhawana Manoj Deswani’s family business was upended by COVID-19. The family ran a boutique for women’s clothes in Amaravati, Rajasthan, and was dealt a massive blow by the lockdowns.
But that didn’t stop Bhawana, the 43-year old mother of two, who decided to take the business online via Instagram. Today, close to 80 percent of the income comes from Instagram and she earns between Rs 50,000 and Rs 80,000 each month.
A B Ed graduate, Bhawana was a teacher at a school before her marriage. However, it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to continue teaching.
“Juggling household work and outside work became significantly harder. I had to take care of everything at home, and ensure my children went to school before I did, prepare school work, and handle the home. So, I gave up teaching,” Bhawana says.
She decided to join the family business of textiles and the boutique they owned. Getting into the fashion and textile business wasn’t new to Bhawana as her maternal side is also in the business, and she had been helping her in-laws from home even while she was teaching.
From teaching to fashion
One of six sisters, Bhawana lost her father when she was eight years old and started helping her mother with stitching work. By the time she was in Class 10, she had started stitching clothes and doing different forms of embroidery.
“By 2000, I was part of the family boutique, and continued to my made-to-order clothing line for young girls and women,” Bhawana says. The business was running without any glitches, but the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown hit work.
“During this time, my younger daughter was looking to join NIFT. We were looking at colleges for her amid the pandemic. She continued applying, and while we were wondering what to do next I made a few masks for my daughter and her friends, who put it up on Instagram,” Bhawana says.
Selling on Instagram
Her daughter soon advised her to sell online and, with word of mouth, Bhawana’s made-to-order business went on Instagram.
“Initially, people had multiple requests for masks and the kind of masks they wanted. We soon launched hair accessories. In 2020, I sold close to 4,000 masks. These customers and clients soon asked me to make different kinds of clothes and dresses for them,” Bhawana says.
By September, Bhawana was selling masks, hair accessories, and clothes, including dresses, kurtis, children’s wear, and more. She customises garments, sarees, and dupattas with embroidery, painting, printing, knitting and other options.
She tied up with Shiprocket for deliveries. People order online on Instagram, and Bhawana sends the packages across India. The logistics charges for a 1 kg pack are Rs 50.
Online sales contribute Rs 50,000-Rs 80,000 to her income every month.
“Today I sell across Bengaluru, and in Assam and Pondicherry. I take close to one week to make the dress, and ship it. Most of these details are handled by my daughter, and I continue making whatever orders and designs that come my way,” Bhawana says.