Failure in her first venture did not deter this determined entrepreneur.
Success needs time along with hard work and commitment. As a woman entrepreneur, Dipali Mehta entered handloom business with zero investments.
In a decade, her business, Dipali Mehta Handlooms, has achieved around Rs.1 crore in revenues.
She built a sustainable business model and acted as a bridge between traditional weavers and fashion outlets. Neither her financial success nor accolades and awards limit her passion to do more for the industry. She is also initiating a new project for handloom and khadi exports to USA and France by setting up a chain of international warehouses.
Talking about her background and business idea, she says, “I am a fashion designer by profession and shifted to Hyderabad after marriage. I have worked with various fashion retailers like Neerus and Kalanikethan. Later, I got into business and burnt my hands in cloth manufacturing. But, that did not stop me aiming high.
“I then got into handloom business. Traditional weavers were facing a hard time in 1999-2000. Growth of power looms limited handlooms to premium market. The weavers also did not know what sells in the market in terms of design, texture or style. The idea was to develop unique designs and make the weavers work according to the market needs.”
The business started small with almost zero investment. “I started with two weavers and I used to say, ‘I do not have money but I guarantee you the market.’ With the growth of business, I outsourced the handloom work for the weavers not only in Andhra Pradesh but also to those from Gujarat and Tamil Nadu,” she says.
Dipali has list of top-notch designers, fashion stores and retailors in her client list. She also built a successful model by which women can work from home and can sell her sarees at reasonable returns.
“There are around 50 women entrepreneurs, who buy kit of sarees in bulk and sell them individually. They also offer them at reasonable prices to the masses as there are not much costs involved in retailing,” she explains.
The business works with 40 master weavers, who employ numerous individual weavers. “We never stopped them from working for others but requested them not to produce the same designs elsewhere. I never negotiated with them on prices but always paid Rs.10 extra than their market price,” she explains.
On future plans, she says, “Even now weavers find it difficult to survive. They are shifting to other fields because of lack of proper income.
I am initiating a handloom and khadi project by which there will be direct and indirect employment to 7,000 weavers. This is an export project by which these handlooms are exported to France and USA simultaneously.
“There is huge potential in the export handloom industry, which is growing at 15-20 per cent. The project that I am initiating takes 0.25 per cent of the total existing market. We are looking for a seed capital to take the project forward.”