Entrepreneur Priya Acharjee is a braveheart who did not think twice before giving up a promising career in medicine to pursue her passion. She took a leap of faith when she opened her business which not only turned out to be her calling, she also broke uncountable stereotypes and prejudices in the process. Her products are aimed at customer satisfaction with the colours of her fabrics and her grind shows how hard work can make you “bloom“.
Read to know more about Priya Acharjee with Storiyaan.
Questions and answers
What inspired you to start your own business at the young age of 18?
My teenage life wasn’t stable or healthy. I underwent the pressure of studies, judgements of society and life. I desperately needed a change but didn’t know where to begin. I decided to start my own business after my eldest sister purchased a solid saree from an online brand, which turned out to be expensive but not up to the mark! Immediately I decided to initiate this saree business to help people purchase the right product at a reasonable price while helping the weavers by supporting the handloom industry as much as we can.
You live in a small, town where the idea of a woman starting her own business is unheard of. How did your family members and other people react when they came to know about your idea?
No one expected me to confront my parents about opening a shop instead of going into the medical field. My father was against it as he wanted me to have a secure future. My sisters supported me throughout, and so did my mum eventually. Besides some critics who still like to put barriers and limitations to the choices of women or young girls, all my acquaintances praised me,
You are the Secretary of an Old Age Home, Co-owner of Vaikuntha, and a college student. How do you manage to work in such different fields at the same time and are you able to take some time for yourself?
Time management is something everyone must be aware of and realise that each second precious. When you’re entrusted with a responsibility, it is because you deserve it. But you also must know how to do justice to your given role. I love taking care of the old and needy. Therefore, when it comes to my role as the secretary, I fulfil my responsibility as if they were my grandparents. Similarly being the co-owner of Vaikuntha is like nourishing my child to let it bloom. The bug in my head always keeps me ready to do each job efficiently. I study late into the night as I firmly believe that an educated person is a dangerous creature capable of anything. I do take out some time for myself because self-nourishment is equally necessary.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you were starting the business?
The biggest problem was convincing my father to agree with my dreams. Initiating our business in between the covid pandemic is another risk we took.
From finances to gathering knowledge and facts about the sarees we’re selling and cost analysis, I didn’t know exactly where to start or how to set the price, how to satisfy the customers while keeping the packaging eco-friendly. I tried to avoid the negativity that could hamper our mental state because we couldn’t let people’s opinion underestimate our hard work and creativity as “Kuch Toh log kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehna”.
How do you plan to expand your business in the future? Will you diversify your brand and not limit itself to sarees only?
We will definitely diversify our brand and we will try to keep more stuff besides sarees. Right now with few team members and weavers, it’s not quite possible to include much products but we will keep modifying and including new stuff if we keep getting the love from our audiences as much as we get now and the plan is secret let’s just hope for the best to get it done.
Your designs are very unique and stand-out from other sarees that are sold on online platforms. How do you ensure that you maintain such uniqueness and that your brand continues to stand out from the others?
We keep researching, and based on the tastes of ladies or our customersand market trends, we keep learning, exploring and making mistakes. We try to figure out the best colour match that we can get, give it a try, and just wait for the response to come so that we can be sure of what to keep and what to dispose of.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like you who want to start their own business but do not have enough resources to do so?
I opted for self-publishing. I wanted to be in control of what I’m serving to the readers. There are a lot of benefits of self-publishing as I can research it right off. In the publication process, my team was very supportive and cooperative, and they also offered me a scholarship because of the quality of my writing. I opted for ebooks because I wanted my book to be available in all possible platforms, in every part of the world. I didn’t want people to feel that my book is inaccessible. You can have ebooks on your phone or use it as an audiobook too, so it is pretty convenient.