How this woman entrepreneur aims to promote social good through her D2C business
Arushi Agrawal had a very protected life. She was born in Hong Kong, educated there and Singapore, and pursued undergraduate studies at Babson University in the United States.
But moving to Mumbai after her marriage seven years ago, she says, was a wake-up call.
âComing from a first world background and seeing, for the first time, the disparity that exists in India was a wake-up call,â she says. His history.
Coming from a wealthy business family with her father running a boutique hotel group and her mother running a restaurant chain in Singapore, Arushi wanted to leverage the resources and network she had to start a social business.
This year, it finally took the plunge because the pandemic only exacerbated the disparity and after a year of ideation, Seva India was launched a few weeks ago.
Getting started for social good
Based in Mumbai, Seva India makes luxury candles from soy wax which are sold through their website and Instagram account for Rs 1,400-8,000. While maximizing profits is not the primary goal, Arushi says the challenge at the initial stage is people’s apprehension about quality products from India.
âPeople think luxury goods should be made in Italy or France, not India. And I’m really trying to break the stereotype that the finest candles and fragrances can be made in India, âshe says.
The company refrained from setting up factories with automated machinery even though this would reduce costs and time to promote employment for women. The entrepreneur says he has taken a human approach to hiring women through word of mouth and the candle-making trainer who knows the women seeking employment personally.
âThere is no cookie cutter approach via agencies but a very personalized process and everyone knows each other. One of the women working with us lost her husband to COVID-19 and has to take care of three children, âshe said, adding that the 15 women working with her are calledâ Sevaiite â.
Although Arushi is for the first time donning the hat of a social entrepreneur, she is no stranger to social service. Her stepfather runs the Mamta Foundation, which works with dietitians to meet the nutritional needs of all children undergoing chemotherapy at Tata Hospital in Mumbai.
Uploaded during the holiday season, every tenth candle sold by Seva India helps sponsor cataract surgery for an elderly person in Maharashtra tribal communities through the Samta Foundation, a Mumbai-based organization founded by her. uncle in 2012.
With surgery costing around Rs 700, Samta Foundation supports around 3,500 surgeries each month and Seva India will contribute all the profits at the end of the holiday season.
âEvery customer who buys the Seva candle will get the name of the person they have helped during the ongoing operations. It’s easy for someone to donate, but actually knowing where the money went and how it helped some people is much more powerful, âshe adds.
Products of Seva India
The market and the way forward
Personally liking scented candles, Arushi says that there is a huge gap in the luxury candle market in India and producing quality products with pleasing aesthetics and packaging stands out in the market.
In the coming months, it hopes to diversify its product offerings to include, among others, diffusers, car fragrances and air fresheners.
While forming a team and operating during the pandemic still seems restrictive, plant space is another challenge, especially in handling the wholesale orders it receives for Diwali.
Other peers in the candle market include RAD Living, The Philotree, Applefall, and Joy Candles, among others. Currently focused on brand awareness, the long-term goal, she says, is to put India on the luxury candle map.