Meet Chandni Dassani, she is the co-founder of Etasaa. It is a Gurgaon based startup founded back in 2016.
We loved creativity and had an advantage of living in India which has a massive consumer base. That’s just how we started Etasaa, where we focused on design, aesthetics, affordability and good quality in lifestyle products. We are simply making luxury affordable, says Chandni.
We at Bangalore Insider got an opportunity to talk Chandni and get her thoughts on her experience in entrepreneurship and marketing. I am sure her interview with us will be an inspiring.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Etasaa is a homegrown Indian lifestyle brand born in October 2016. With the love for cottage industries and local artisans, the brand always believed in going back to it’s roots. Even so, that the word Etasaa itself finds it’s root in Sanskrit meaning “desirable beauty”.
The brand reflects an eclectic mix of home & lifestyle products which are modern yet have an element of traditional techniques. We are constantly exploring different forms of design, craft, artistry, from the Indian small industries to create a collection which is beautiful and unique. The brand is currently into décor, accessories, wedding and gifting products.
The brand is co-founded by Chandni Dassani and Vineeta Dassani, both hailing from creative backgrounds and bringing in years of their professional experiences.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Art exists to do more than solve problems. It exists to give us jolt of beauty, joy and stir our emotions. And at Etasaa we are striving to do that every day. We are bridging the gap between luxury and affordable brands. We loved creativity and had an advantage of living in India which has a massive consumer base. That’s just how we started Etasaa, where we focused on design, aesthetics, affordability and good quality in lifestyle products. We are simply making luxury affordable.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
Etasaa was co-founded and brainchild of me and Vineeta Dassani. Regarding my background, I have strong background in Management, Retail and now E-commerce is the CEO and currently heads the Retail, Merchandising & Marketing segment of the business. I completed my education in Business Management, Fashion & Retail Management from NIFT Bangalore & Product Merchandising from Chelsea College of Arts, London, additionally I have worked with the top most retail companies in India like Genesis Luxury, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle, Arvind Brands and Snapdeal. Prior to this I also founded of Women’s Power Networking which is a women entrepreneurship Facebook Group. Here I was a speaker at Women Economic Forum and i have featured blogs too.
Insights of our second co-founder is Vineeta Dassani, who is an expertise in Interior & Product Design currently is the Creative Director of Etasaa and heads all design and operations of the firm. With her education in Design from SNDT, Mumbai, Vineeta has worked with Collaborative Architecture, Mumbai on multiple projects. With her 10 years of work experience she currently also is a Creative Partner at Total Interiors Solution in Delhi.
Where is your start-up based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are currently based out of Delhi & Gurgaon, but through e-commerce we have been able to of course reach consumers all over the world. We feel that we are in a great market since people in North are style conscious and are open to trying new brands. We also want to target international markets like the Middle East and the UK since we feel there is a huge potential for design products out there.
As a start-up founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
That’s actually such a difficult question, because in a start-up ecosystem there is no sanity ever. As a completely bootstrapped venture, the constant paranoia is about putting our money in the right place and since we are a inventory heavy business, we constantly work on our merchandise mix and our major focus area is producing products with correct estimates of sales and replenishment. We of course face a daily hurdle, but I think working wouldn’t be fun if we aren’t challenged.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
Any versatile and exciting business in our field is our competition. With the rage of entrepreneurship around the world, we simply cannot pick one. Our efforts are just focused to create a unique brand identity for ourselves. We are differentiating ourselves in terms of manufacturing which we completely manage in India, and we strive to design everything in house which lot of brands are unable to do. We can only be better if we evolve, and that’s why in the last two years, we have managed to cater to 3 varied business channels under one brand.
How hard is it to have a work life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
It’s crazy! And there is no balance when it’s your own baby. There are several days where we don’t go home and work overnight, but it’s so exciting. We are actually lucky because our family supports and encourages us a lot. As women, we are so used to be hard on ourselves, become over critical and keep pushing, but I think we are only able to manage because of our team and the people around us.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Till now, our venture has been completely bootstrapped by our savings and investments. We haven’t pitched for any external funding, but yes, we are looking for funding. We have met few investors who are interested but yet to finalise anything.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
The biggest misconception people have about us is that we curate and import products from outside for our collection. They sometimes don’t believe that our products are Made In India, which is surprising because we have some amazing set of artisans here. But, we get it why they think like that, because, maximum no. of brands just import from China, Vietnam or Thailand. It’s expensive and difficult to design and manufacture, but we just want to let people know that we are working hard to sustain Indian artisans and focus on becoming a design centric business rather than just a buy and sell brand.
What gets you excited about this company?
It’s actually exciting to see how we touch lives, home and moments of people with our products. We are part of their daily living and often their families too. But, what’s even exciting is to see the growth, scope of expansion and knowing that there is no limit to what we can achieve with Etasaa. We are elated to be launching two new segments of business in coming months and hoping to expand into 3 more in the coming year.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My day starts at 7 am, and I spend my time just noting the most important things to do in the day, followed by reading the newspaper and completing my basic chores at home. I never miss breakfast with family and that’s my complete no technology time. I reach office around 10 a.m and mostly work till 7p.m daily. I prefer to complete all delegation and checking work trackers till 12 p.m in the afternoon, after which we mostly meet clients or have team meetings. I end my work day by 7p.m after which I prefer doing any of my favourite hobby and end my day by 10 p.m usually reading a book.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
We are a small team core consisting of 6 people.
Chandni Dassani – CEO (Heading Retail, Business Management, Merchandising & Marketing)
Vineeta Dassani – Creative Director (Heading Product Design, Operations & Sales)
We have one Merchandiser and Vendor Manager, one Junior Designer and a Warehouse staff currently. Currently we are expanding our team and soon would have a double digit team!
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