Sat Mar 12 2022
8 min read
WARNING: This article may make you quit your job and pursue your dreams, to add to the 13.76% of entrepreneurs in the country, who are some inspiring women.
28% of all unicorns in India are women-led. In a race where the starting line for men and women are miles apart favouring the males, we see this statistic as the ray of hope we have desperately waited for. And we want to share this feeling with you.
According to Shiprocket’s report in 2021, women selling their small-business online and on social media channels rose to 39% each for many reasons. According to Instamojo, women D2C founders constitute about 40% of their merchants - which is easily over 500,000 women! Every female D2C founder is a brand herself. D2C businesses flourish with women at their lead because women are increasingly becoming expressive and finding their niche. And there’s so much we can learn from each one of them. The list is long but we’ve tried to capture all the traits that make women the first ladies of the D2C industry.
Tl;dr - There are 2 things in common among these women. The first is their grit, powerful and absolute in a male-dominated business world; the second is how they engage with their customers. You’ll find female entrepreneurs in the thick of social commerce, involving their clientele in the brand as a community. Something to learn, isn't it?
So, here are the 10 reasons (explained through 10 women) why you could never outdo the naari-shakti in D2C:
#1 They don’t take early retirement. In fact, they build unicorns with all the professional experience in their kitty 🦄
Learn from Falguni Nayar, who canned the myth of “age limits” and went solo at 50.
Our #1 is Number One in her career, the stock market, and our hearts. You already know Falguni Nayar’s story. She quit her banking career and started Nykaa at the age of 50! She had no background in beauty, technology, or retail. Still, she defied the boundaries of imagined possibilities and achieved the unimaginable. This is living proof that a woman can do anything she sets her mind on, at any age she feels ready to take the leap.
#2 Women collaborate and are ideal leaders of the care economy
Let’s take Dolly Kumar as an example, who taught us how to be strong inside and stunning outside.
You know that tired metaphor of a super-woman who does it all? Some people say it’s a patriarchal conspiracy to glorify women and push them into taking on all the tasks they can lay their hands on… so that men don’t have to share the load (pun intended). Whether that’s true or not, Dolly Kumar is the one person who takes a stand for these “Super Women” and gives them what they need - nutrition and wellness. She does this as the founder of GAIA, a brand committed to making us beautiful inside and out; and restoring our synergistic relationship with the earth.
Dolly herself leads a peaceful life with a work-life balance to aspire for. She’s also found telling anyone who’ll hear that her mom and her mother-in-law inspire her. In short, those women who run a household and a career, and are bosses at both.
#3 They are naturally good at empathy marketing
Like Rashi Narang, who showed us how empathy for living beings can be scaled to great heights.
A pet mom can create a whole movement, and Rashi Narang is proof of that. Anyone who has ever seen love in the eyes of a furry four-legged baby knows how special that relationship is. Rashi Narang didn’t just start Heads Up For Tails from scratch, but she also painstakingly bootstrapped it for eight whole years. Her startup baby is now as loved as her fur baby is. In fact during the pandemic, the company saw revenue growth of over 80%.
Today, HUFT is the brand of empathy for pets. Our hearts swell with pride that one person’s compassion can make such a difference in so many pet families.
#4 Women have a huge appetite for risk. Without this, there’s no winning in the D2C game these days.
Vineeta Singh listened to her inner 25-year-old girl and said ‘No’ to a salaried job as a bribe for giving up on her big dreams.
Anyone who’s seen this Shark on Shark Tank India will remember how she often says, “Aur meri customer kaun hai? 25 saal ki ladki!”
While SUGAR Cosmetics’ brand positioning maybe for that mythical “25 saal ki lakdi”, Vineeta has a way of making everyone feel like they’re 25 forever. She’s an IIT Madras alumnus and was groomed for success. She even landed a job and came on the front page of newspapers in her time as an IIT-ian female who bagged a 1cr package. Then why leave all of that and land up in the uncertain path of entrepreneurship?
Well, she went from being one of few women students at an IIT to starting her first company Fab Bag, took her lessons and went on to become the icon of SUGAR Cosmetics that helps women stand out everywhere. Only she could’ve thought of smudge-free lipsticks for women on the go with very active personal and professional lives! She started small, built something that our inner 25-year-old resonates with, and went on to be a Shark. Now that’s a journey worth taking.
#5 They inspire other women to start today, which is directly proportional to the country’s GDP growth
Look at Shuchi Pandya - she’s the best lesson in starting early.
There’s no good time to become an entrepreneur and it pays off to start early. Shuchi was in her early twenties when she started up. Although she comes from a family of jewellers, her take on it has reflected how new-age women see themselves.
We’re talking about Pipa.Bella (now acquired by Nykaa), which is not only the jewellery we want to wear but is also the kind of woman we want to be.
#6 They know the problems and innovate for women like themselves
Ayushi Gudwani, and her power of looking sharp in a boardroom is a good example here.
Haven’t we seen enough men in startups who wear the same black t-shirt and jeans? We’re really glad that there’s no “woman” version of that. Ayushi Gudwani has made sure of that with Fable Street.
Ayushi remembers her early 20’s as being a studious, energetic person, focusing on being around people to build, work, and laugh and that has been her spirit as a leader of Fable Street as well.
With the motto “Our style, your fit” she brings comfort, style and statement to every single piece that we can lay our hands on. Ayushi gives us all the feels of Anne Hathaway from ‘The Intern’, and Fable Street makes us wonder “Is this how we look in our ‘happily ever after’?” No wonder she’s raised about $250 million for her enterprise!
#7 In the process of solving problems for themselves, they choose to solve for the world and the only “break” they need when they become mothers is when they’re breaking the glass ceiling
Like Malika Datt Sadani, who proved that moms know best, even in business.
When you raise a baby and a startup baby, you really know what moms want. That’s why Malika Sadani runs The Moms Co. Only a mom’s attention can create the kind of natural and toxin-free products that Malika has brought to the market. She gets the tough choices that millions of moms make, and she makes it easier for them.
Malika is proof that when you channel your inner mom, the entrepreneur in you only gets stronger. Because who else can do this crazy juggle without compromising anything or cutting any corners? Only a mom. Always a mom.
#8 They truly ‘Make In India’ for the world and play a huge role in reducing the unemployment rate
Like Uma and Kalpana Jha of JhaJi Store.
Who said you needed to be an urban Indian woman to “start up”? Uma and Kalpana Jha have been making pickles and chutneys for the whole world from their small town of Darbhanga in Northern Bihar.
Since understanding their own strength in the love they have been getting from their existing customers, they applied for food licensing and revamped their packaging to launch JhaJi pickles to a wider audience. JhaJi store went live in March 2021, right before the second wave of COVID-19 hit us. They’ve been generating employment for hundreds of women and are furthering girl child education with their profits. But you must agree that no pandemic can stop entrepreneurial women when they play to their strengths and preserve the authenticity of their products.
#9 They don’t follow trends, they create them and their determination takes them a long long way
Talk about Apeksha Jain, who has made beloved jams and preserves by following her instinct.
Apeksha has loved cooking since she was a teenager. At first, she didn’t think of turning that into a career. It wasn’t until her husband reminisced about some banana jam he’d eaten that she’d attempted to recreate it. It turns out that it was no ordinary banana jam- it was a superhit.
That was the beginning of The Gourmet Jar - with its jams, relishes, chutneys, and savory spreads that have taken the market by storm.
There’s something to learn from Apeksha- although she began making preserves by learning and researching from various sources, she has learnt to trust her instincts and now formulates new products by herself. No matter how much we overlook the “gut feeling”, success often begins from trusting yourself first.
#10 They do just the right amount of multi-tasking and they adapt quickly
Since D2C is the future of retail, we couldn’t have thought of a better example than Aastha Almast, co-founder of The New Shop.
At a time when the pandemic had massively reduced footfall in convenience stores, Aastha along with her sibling Mani Dev Gyawali, launched and scaled The New Shop - India's fastest growing 24×7 convenience retail-tech startup with omnichannel presence. She didn’t only do that but during the pandemic, took many steps to enable artists in need to provide their services by offering attractive offers to their customers. No wonder The New Shop earned Kevin Harrington’s (the original Shark) first Indian investment. We’re not surprised considering the enthralling leader behind the brand!
At Klub, 30% of our portfolio brands are women-led, and this women’s day instead of just talking about women, we want to walk the talk. We are pledging to take this number to 50% this year. We’ve already started taking giant steps towards this ambitious goal of ours and one of them was our regular community activation, over breakfast!
Join the Klub today 🎁