Color D Earth was born out of a passion for creating eco-friendly jewellery and to better the artisans’ economic conditions. Hema S Subramanyam, started off the enterprise in Bangalore in June 2003 with an investment of Rs.10,000 and today the business has become part of livelihood for around 120 artisans from different parts of the country.
Talking about the career, Hema says, “I graduated from Koti Womens College in Psychology and worked as management consultant at Ma Foi (Randstad). I got married and left for Bangalore after a year of work. But, I always had a passion to do something fruitful and productive. After few years, I went to hobby class with my children to learn clay work and slowly created an interest towards the art. I also further did a course on terracotta jewellery from them. This jewellery is made from river bed clay.
“With the interest towards this art, I started an enterprise Alankriti by employing two people. The business started well and had supplied to almost 5-6 boutiques. But, I need to leave for Mumbai in 2007. It was really tough to establish this business in Mumbai without any contacts. Many times, I could not even break-even my monthly costs. I never lost hope but went back to work to build confidence levels whilst continuing the business. After a year, I left work and got selected at Goldmans Sachs 10000 Women entrepreneurs programme. The programme at ISB helped me to do a business plan also gave many inputs to scale up the business,”
After up and downs financially, Hema had to revive the business in 2010 in the City. “I started off a kiosk at GVK One mall in June 2010 and renamed my business and formed a social organisation as Color D Earth. The idea is to link the artisan groups who are struggling like me and make a big team together to share a common goal. I started off by sourcing products from different artisans groups not only for my profits but equally for their financial upliftment,” she says.
“Most of the retailers (95 per cent) work on consignment model, where in the artisan gets paid only after a month of showcasing their jewellery in the retailors shop. This was the challenge that I faced in the initial days when I sourced products to boutiques. For any small scale organisation, flow of revenues is crucial and at times they get stuck to start the work only after they get the money for delivered products. I did not want this to happen to any of the artisans who work for me. I pay money upfront, if they don’t have anything to start off the work and also pay in full, the moment they deliver the product for me,” Hema says.
The business started getting monthly breakeven and making profits ever since it started off a Kiosk in the City. Hema says, “Hyderabadi customers are highly receptive to art and they are also looking for eco-friendly and green living products. Especially, educated young people looking for products which has deeper meaning.”
Color D Earth has steady revenues with 100 per cent growth in revenues last fiscal, compared to previous fiscal. Not only it is making profits, it is also working with 12 artisans groups in the country and making them financially independent. The enterprise wants to bring in 100 artisans groups under its umbrella in next two years and also spread its kiosks in other cities.
Talking about her inspiration, she says, “My children have been supportive in my professional life and they are undemanding of me. It is their support and love keeps me going.”