MSME SuperPower:

How I built a post-pandemic saree business

Milan Makwana

Founder, Maha Rudra Enterprise, Surat - Gujarat

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The end of India’s nationwide lockdown in 2020 was an uncertain time, but that was when I started my own company. In a way, the pandemic pushed me to make this bold move. Before this, my job was to weave raw material, sourced from manufacturers, into sarees that were sold by traders. I was already frustrated that my earnings were dependent on the amount of raw material that I could get. Then the pandemic struck, and fabric-manufacturing factories shut down. I became a saree entrepreneur because I had no other option. First, I quickly sold off my left-over ready-made sarees to traders. Then I took a bold step.

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Bold designs to win the market

I knew that no one in the Surat saree market had heard of me or my new brand, Maha Rudra Enterprises. Some people would think that the sensible move for a newcomer would be to prioritize putting out sarees with more familiar patterns to catch perennial demand. But I went a different way.

Rather than selling sarees with tried-and-tested designs, I focused on creating exclusive and never-seen-before designs. I also decided to manage the entire end-to-end production –literally from fibre to fabric to finished product.

Today, Maha Rudra Enterprises employs 16 people. We first make fabric from textile fibre in our manufacturing unit. This is then sent to our embroidery factory. After the production process is complete, we package the finished sarees for distribution. We are known for our unique saree embroidery. You will not find the same designs anywhere else.

Bold action in the face of adversity

The second Covid wave hit many businesses hard, forcing shops to comply with restricted business hours. I turned this adversity into an opportunity by onboarding as a seller on Flipkart in June 2021, following advice from a friend. I thoroughly researched the saree category on Flipkart Marketplace first, and discovered that no seller could match my designs. This instantly set us apart, and sales took off.

It is empowering to know that I can sustain my business on Flipkart Marketplace. We are now receiving more orders online than offline. When I began my business, only people who live close by could purchase my sarees; today, we can sell our product anywhere in India.

I joined Walmart Vriddhi after this to further strengthen my business, and I found the learning immediately relevant. Thanks to Walmart Vriddhi I was able to quickly apply what I had learned about quality checks and effective costing when my product return ratio unexpectedly increased. Today, our quality issues and the return ratio are both minimal.

From business theory to practical measures, from maximizing product quality to minimizing wastage, I’ve quickly applied everything I learned during the first two levels of Walmart Vriddhi. At the same time, I’ve maintained my original business strategy: the end-to-end production of exclusive, never-seen-before designs.

Looking ahead, we will keep our focus on sarees and bring even more diversity in our designs.

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