Online artifacts store makes good money

27 Dec,2011

By Amit Kumar


Pallavi Singh Keshri believes that people should give wing to their dreams. Little wonder then that she has named her labour of love Eyass, which translates to falconry, wherein the young ones of a falcon are taken from the nest for training. There is another reason she chose the name – falconry is a near extinct art form in the Middle East, and art is what Eyass is all about.


A two-year-old online store, Eyass showcases craftwork from all over the world. All the pieces are either hand-crafted, unique or endangered, and eco-friendly. This effort has enabled the creation of a platform, which connects artisans directly with the consumers, bypassing middlemen and margins.


The road to entrepreneurship has been a circuitous one, but Ms Keshri was sure she would have her own business some day. After graduating from Delhi University in 1996, she picked up a post graduate diploma in marketing and joined a media house. Subsequently, she worked for for about two-and-a-half years. Then, in 2006, Ms Keshri quit her job as marketing manager at Dale Carnegie Training in Mumbai to pursue a one-year MBA degree in general management and international business. She worked in Dubai for a year and it was on her return to India in December 2008 that Keshri felt ready to start her own venture. “The time was right. I had gained enough experience in the field, had made the right contacts, and shored up adequate savings to start on my own,” says the 36-year-old.


Over the next year, she worked on the idea, got the legal documents needed for the venture (export-import licence) and developed the website design. Finally, in December 2009, the company was launched with a seed capital of Rs 4.5 lakh, which mainly covered the expense for the website and inventory. In the initial months, Ms Keshri hired people on a freelance/part-time basis, her residence in Delhi serving as office to save on expenses.


Around this time, Ms Keshri also realised that she had to narrow down her business focus if she wanted to succeed in the sector, while remaining true to the concept of direct marketing. “The point of starting Eyaas was to ensure that we get to work directly with artistes and craftsmen. I realised that if we tried expanding too soon, I would have had to compromise on that aspect, which I wasn’t comfortable with,” says Ms Keshri. Today, Eyaas works with many partners, including All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association, an African associate and a Cambodian one. The repertoire includes toys, home accessories, pottery, stationery and jewellery.


Eyaas has raked in revenue of about Rs 3.5 lakh in the past year and is expected to breakeven in the next six months. The venture currently employs four people, including Ms Keshri. Although she hasn’t been able to pay herself a salary yet, she hopes that this will be rectified in the coming year. Meanwhile, she has managed to keep herself going financially by helping aspiring candidates prepare for GMAT exams in various institutes. However, she is sure that Eyaas is destined to soar.Future plans? “We need to work on reaching out a little more to the artistes in south India,” she says.

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