The first thing anyone will notice about her is the endearing childlike smile, and the twinkling passion you expect to see in the eyes of an artistic entrepreneur. With that same twinkle in her eyes, she reminisces about the first ever customer she sold her creation to. Handcrafted, and the result of almost a year of self-teaching, hard work, running around from one vendor to another, and a whole lot of unfailing passion.
The story of Malvika Gupta is that of self-belief, determination, and persistence. From an amateur designer operating from the back of her Toyota car to forming a company worth 2.5 crores in just two years, Malvika did what many fail to do, starting something and seeing it through.
I met her in Purple Panchi’s workshop. Busy, engaged and yet extremely approachable, she was sweet enough to share some intriguing details about her journey, and her ideas about how people could do what she did.
Milan: Thank you for giving me the time today. Let’s, in fact, begin from the very start of things. What inspired you to start Purple Panchi?
Malvika: Mostly a joke. (Laughs) It’s just that I would try on many things before buying any of my clothes. My husband who would generally accompany me on these long shopping sessions used to say that since it is so hard for me to decide what to buy, maybe I should make my own clothes. I had always been passionate about art and fashion, so once I just thought to give it a shot.
Milan: So is that it, without any prior training you just jumped into it?
Malvika: I loved to stay in updated with design and trends of clothes I purchased. I just started taking my interest a little more seriously. I took a lot of block printing workshops, stitching and embroidery workshops and did a lot of learning on the internet. Initially, it was just a few dresses I made for myself, but when the compliments from friends and family started pouring in I thought to take it up more professionally.
Milan: Wow, and I have heard you were selling stuff out of your car.
Malvika: (Laughs) Oh well those were the days. Yeah, well not selling exactly, I did not have an office to operate from, so I would drive to shops to procure the fabric, and then the printer, and then the tailor, before dropping off the final products to the online marketplaces who after months of pursuing were ready to sell my stuff. It was just a lot of run around, and my car the mobile office I had of sorts.
Milan: That sounds very challenging.
Malvika: It was. But that is the learning required for any entrepreneur. I got to know every aspect of my business. In fact that gave me the confidence to start my independent brand and sell my own products under my own label.
Milan: So is this how you stayed positive throughout your journey?
Malvika: Yeah, I would always look for what I could achieve. Sometimes my printer would not be ready, or the quality of fabric that I wanted wasn’t up to the mark, so I would have restart from the first step. But I was happy to be doing something I loved. That was biggest motivation really.
Milan: Any messages you have for entrepreneurs, women especially.
Malvika: Our society still finds it hard to appreciate entrepreneurial passion, especially in women. And like I had to balance between being a mother, and an apparel manufacturer, many women face similar challenges. I was lucky to have a supportive family but much more than depending on support from others, I think it is extremely important to stay positive with yourself. And mostly enjoying what you do. It means not to get bogged down by rejection and failure but never ignoring them either. Learning from mistakes, and staying true to the quality you want to deliver, are the most important keys, for any project in life really.
“Those who dream shall be rewarded”