Several elements in the interior design make a home complete. Little things such as napkins, table cloths, bed sheets and so on playing a crucial factor in bringing a positive interior appeal. But then, when you look at many of the options out there, they might be either too expensive or of inferior quality that might cause despair. However, if you are looking for an amicable company with an ergonomic approach towards cloth manufacturing, then Swaas is one such company offering the same.
The Coimbatore-based company, Swaas, offers many fabrics and cloth materials that are sustainable and tweaked slightly for a greater appeal. They are a company that manufactures cotton fabric products such as bedsheets, sofa cloth, table cloths and much more. Every product manufactured is sustainable, non-toxic, 100% cotton and ethically manufactured. Speaking with Dr. Sudha Anand, the founder of the Swaas, Bangalore Insider was able to learn a lot about the company through the short interview that has been provided below for your reference.
Give a brief info about your company?
Swaas is a lifestyle and home décor brand with a heavy focus on sustainability. With our diverse portfolio of products like bedsheets, towels, candles, cutlery etc, we strive to bring our customers the joy of sprucing up their home with elegance and a pop of colour, as well as pride at doing so in manner which supports women empowerment and environment protection.
What made you start Swaas and what problem does it solve?
After years of association with the textile industry, I noticed that there is a dearth of lifestyle brands in India offering beautiful and globally appealing designs and quality products at reasonable prices. We did a lot of secondary research and looked at various surveys, all of which led us towards the same conclusion that there is a gap in the market for well-designed quality home décor. We realized that the Indian urban middle and upper middle desires to enhance their everyday experience through well-designed home décor products.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this?
I am a doctor by profession from PSG IMS&R, Coimbatore. I left a career in medicine to follow my passion for entrepreneurship and started my journey in the textile industry with my family business, BKS textiles, where I oversaw International Branding and Marketing verticals. Being very receptive to my surroundings, I quickly realized the potential of the textile industry in providing employment to thousands of rural women and improving their quality of living.
Where is your company based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
My company is based out of Coimbatore. Coimbatore is popularly called the textile manufacturing hub of South India. It’s a very industrialised city with numerous manufacturing units of various industries and it also contains many textile mills. As such, it attracts people from all over the country seeking employment. Thus, availability of labour was a huge factor in my decision of establishing Swaas here.
As a founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
My biggest challenge is to achieve sales volume. Indian market is still nascent for high quality home décor. To offer high quality products at a feasible cost and to achieve the required sales in order to sustain the brand is a very big challenge for all Indian brands as far as I understand. This is compounded by the high marketing costs that we incur for online & social media marketing these days.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
Portico, Bombay dyeing , Spaces are in the same space as we are in. Our product quality speaks for itself and the price points are advantageous too. Our focus on sustainability is one of our biggest strengths.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a founder and how do you manage it?
We have a good team of experts in all required fields and they help in smooth running of the company. Work life balancing is a conscious decision and very much possible if tried. I make sure I maintain the balance really well as a peaceful home brings in effortless ease and efficiency in our work. Thus, I believe, work life balancing is not an option but a mandatory requirement for a successful and fulfilling life.
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.
We still have not raised but we are close to concluding our deal with an equity investor. It will happen in few months.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
There are common misconceptions about second-generation entrepreneurs. It is the thought that second generation entrepreneurs have an easy way. Me being one, I do not completely agree to it as the market and economy is so dynamic now and things are changing very fast. Hence nothing is easy and cannot be taken for granted. To run an enterprise, one needs calibre, focus, experience, open mindedness, continuous learning, goal orientation and vision. These qualities are required for all entrepreneurs irrespective of the background and longevity of the business.
What gets you excited about this company?
That we are making a real difference. We are extremely proud of our sustainability initiatives. Every year we plant 1,000 trees, recycle and reuse 93% of our waste water and generate 70,000 units of electricity through windmills. Recently we have launched completely biodegradable and organic bamboo towels and bamboo cutlery. We manufacture candles made out of beeswax. In contrast to paraffin wax, beeswax candles are made from beeswax instead of petroleum, do not emit soot, are non-toxic and burn 25-50% longer. Also, all of our products are anti-microbial. Women empowerment is central to the idea of Swaas. Hence, we put our energies into making sure that Swaas provided a safe, comfortable and flexible working environment. We have also provided accommodation to women from various parts of the country like Telangana, Odisha etc. Currently the workforce comprises 80% to 85% women. One of Swaas’ sewing factories also has 100% women working across all functions. By pulling women out of poverty and giving women a chance to live a life of dignity, Swaas is the personification of its motto, ‘Led by women, made by women, for women.’
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.
I wake up around 6.30 am in the morning, I do my morning yoga, pranayama and meditation for one hour. Then I start my work at 10 am till 6 pm with an hour break in between. My work is mainly customer interaction, strategy, recruitments and daily review meetings with various teams. In the evening, I spend time with my son, then visit temple at least 3 days in a week, evening walks for half an hour in nature then various chores at home and sleep at around 10 pm. I write in my journal before bed on most of the days and this gives me a chance to introspect about various happenings of the day and my learnings in it and to have clarity on the forthcoming things I need to focus on.
Tell us about your team.
We have a full-fledged team of production, designing, product development, quality and sales (online & offline) teams in place. I believe in quality recruitments, and I do all employee recruitments myself. We try to keep a balance between experienced and junior’ employees in all departments so that there is always a second line in training and making. We also work with external agencies for social media & online marketing and creative content.