PinkApple is an online marketplace for artisan-crafted products, space design and custom bulk orders that gives its customers easy access to custom-designed handcrafted products. PinkApple executes and deliver tailor-made interior design solutions for homeowners and bulk orders for architects, contractors and interior designers, within budget and on time. PinkApple studio focuses on nurturing artisanal talent, developing new business lines, building demand for handcrafted products through trendy product lines and encouraging institutional participation through bulk orders for office spaces. Their 360-degree design services are accessible to tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well.
PinkApple won the Most Innovative Start-up of the Year at the Architecture and Interior Design Excellence Awards 2019.
It was just another day in 2008 when Archana, who was 6 months pregnant with her first child, decided to pause from her regular day job and mull over the germ of an idea. In her line of work as a successful Designer & Brand manager with fashion houses such as United Colors of Benetton, Levi’s and Wrangler, she’d come across a need in the market, that she sensed needed to be plugged. She started building on the solution she had identified, in the interior design market. Archana decided to register her company PinkApple, get a rubber stamp and make 4 quilts for a client. And thus began a journey with her first client, Purvankara Builders, from where PinkApple has never looked back.
Like any journey, the ride has not been free of bumps, but Archana’s grit, determination, expertise in design, and belief in doing good and honest work have always paved the way forward for PinkApple.
In an interview with Archana Ganapathy, Founder & Managing Director at The PinkApple Studio Pvt. Ltd. Let’s get known to their quality offerings and something interesting about world of interior designing.
- What were the initial challenges you faced?
1. Abandoning the steady paycheck.
With a good steady job, good salary it was a tough decision to quit after a very successful corporate career. The only reason I could do it was the passion and love to start something confidently, believing in my success and also wanting to do justice to my newborn baby, by being a hands on mother.
2. Sacrificing personal capital.
Some entrepreneurs are able to start their ventures relying solely on external funding. That usually means a collection of angel investor contributions, government grants and loans, and results from crowd funding campaigns. But many entrepreneurs like myself had to only dive into my own bank accounts and personal savings to get things started. Eventually a lot of financial support from parents to be bootstrapped and successful.
3. Relying on cash flow.
With the CGTME scheme, I managed to start with a 14lac OD ad eventually rise to a 50Lac limit. Even if you have a line of credit, securing a regular cash flow is difficult and stressful. We could position ourselves for a profitable year, but still struggle with the day-to-day necessities if the revenue doesn’t match or exceed costs in a timely manner.
Bills can add up quickly, and if you don’t have enough revenue to support your outgoing cash flow, you could run short of money for pay checks or be forced to dip into emergency funds. This is not a good sustainable situation to be in.
4. Donating personal time (and health).
An entrepreneur, I took a toll on my health with trying to balance work and two kids. Countless hours doing work to make your company successful, and your remaining hours worrying about what you have or have not done thus far. You will lose sleep, you will miss out on personal time, and you will experience much more stress than usual as being a start-up one ends up doing more than one can chew.
The rewards of entrepreneurship often outweigh these personal risks, but I realized I have to be prepared to live this type of lifestyle.
- How were the first few years of your interior designing company?
‘Crafting a Livelihood’
Propelled by loss of markets, declining skills and difficulty catering to new markets, a large number of artisans have moved to urban centers in search of low, unskilled employment in the industry. To start providing these artisans back with what they are skilled with and enjoy hands on working, the designers at PinkApple work on products, custom interior product lines for clients on bulk orders/ turnkey requirements etc. To keep the passion, smile on their faces and money into their account end of the week going! We have evolved numerous models to support artisans in earning better livelihoods.
Harnessing the potential of this sector requires different types of investments to preserve traditional crafts, strengthen the sector, and improve the incomes of artisans. The online setup at PINKAPPLE is currently focusing on building the four cornerstones of artisan sustainability:
• Nurturing Artisan Talent
• Developing New Business lines
• Building Demand for Crafts through interesting in trendy product lines
• Encouraging Institutional Participations through bulk orders for newer offices.
Which was that point that triggered the growth of the company?
Empowering Local Communities
PinkApple believes in design with a heart. Designing of spaces is a passion, but preserving our heritage and empowering communities is a belief. Given India’s rich tradition of handicrafts, PinkApple knows in its heart that it is important to preserve this culture and weave a balance between what is and what was.
PinkApple Studio currently works with artisans spread across 22 clusters located in different villages in the region. The mission? To reach out and work with 2,000 such clusters by 2020. The objective is to create livelihoods for artisans by paying them for their handiwork, and in doing so, creating communities that are economically self-sufficient. In so doing, we are actually ‘making in India’, our direct association with the artisans brings down pricing and our clients can benefit from the rich tapestry of handcrafted products that are affordable, thus doing away with cheaper Asian imports. PinkApple studio is working towards creating a holistic yet integrated design ecosystem that preserves, motivates, inspires and emancipates, the creator, the provider and the consumer.
- What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
The founder’s determination, expertise in design, and belief in doing good and honest work have always paved the way forward for PinkApple studio.
Dare to believe that good things are possible when you follow your heart.
- How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products/services?
By offering custom orders to scale online, Design services for any kind of space online with a basic fee and offering Franchisee partnership programs for Architects & Designers.
- How do you combine beauty and function while designing?
Beauty comes from the exposure our design team receives on a day to day basis, interacting with clients and customers on a regular basis. Their inspiration and ideas churn beautiful looking spaces and very go to market needs with functionality combined by taking that idea to our backbone team to test technical functionality – our artisans, our clusters, our production house!
- What drives your design decisions? What are some of your largest inspirations?
We have internal processes streamlined and the teams follow the same religiously. Inspirations can come out of anything, however today the team is consciously working towards sustainable, eco-friendly and up cycled product lines.
- One person whom you admire the most?
Indra Nooyi and Sudha Murthy, these two super women are always being a source of motivation for me.
- Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
Every entrepreneur struggles to say a story many go unsaid. That doesn’t mean their story isn’t inspiring enough.
- It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?
Yes, very much as being a part incubated manufacturing company, we struggle with HNI clients, Architects & Project managers procuring China make products with higher pricing and delayed lead times. We decided to launch ourselves in the digital space by taking affordable, custom to scale products to tier 2 & 3 cities.
· Archana Ganapathy is a creative design graduate from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
· She has worked as a designer and brand manager with fashion houses such as United Colors of Benetton, Levi’s and Wrangler.
· After a successful corporate stint, she felt a desire to give back to society and engage with the endangered handicraft industry.
· Archana started PinkApple studio with an aim to unite modern spaces with century-old dying crafts and workmanship. She consciously makes an effort to do her bit to empower traditional artisans.
· For creating a brand in line with the Make in India initiative, Archana was chosen as one among The Visionary Women Leaders of 2019 by Business APAC.