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Interview with Aakriti Rawal Founder of House of Chikankari

Interview with Aakriti Rawal Founder of House of Chikankari

Aakriti Rawal is a creative director who had dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur since the age of 14, she did her masters in marketing in London and returned to India to start a venture. Poonam Rawal is the Head of Production, who brings passion to her work and believes in the larger good of her employees.

House of Chikankari founders so far has been working with Chikankari weavers and dreaming to grow internationally. The duo was recently featured in Shark Tank India season 2 where they presented their entrepreneurial pitch and showcased the work of House of Chikankari.

When did you start your journey as an entrepreneur? 

In the tumultuous lockdown of 2020, my mother (48) and I (24) had a conversation about creating a deeper impact on our country’s craftsmen. This led to the birth of the House of Chikankari in October 2020. Our goal is to revive heritage crafts for future generations and ensure that the talent and expertise of Indian artisans are cherished by all.

We envision organizing a previously unorganized industry by assuring the authenticity of the handmade craft of Chikankari and guaranteed quality. Our vision is to re-instill pride in artisans for their exquisite craftsmanship and sustain it by providing economic and social empowerment to artisans’ households.

We celebrate our cultural roots and strive to create products that enable Indians worldwide to embrace their heritage.

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What challenges you have faced to build your Business? 

At House of Chikankari, we have encountered several challenges in our journey, including:

Working in an unorganized industry: The Chikankari industry in India is largely unorganized, with many artisans working independently. This can lead to a lack of standardization in terms of quality and pricing, which can be challenging for us as a brand to navigate.

Interview with Aakriti Rawal Founder of  House of Chikankari

Educating customers about the art form: Chikankari is a traditional Indian embroidery technique that many people, particularly millennials and Gen-Z, may not be familiar with. As a brand, we have had to work hard to educate our customers about the art form, its history, and its significance.

Reviving the art form: Chikankari has been around for centuries, but in recent times, it has been losing its relevance. Our goal as a brand is to revive the art form by making it cool and relevant for younger audiences while uplifting the artisans by creating a constant demand for their work.

Despite these challenges, we have persevered and continued to work towards our goals. We believe that by staying true to our values and being passionate about what we do, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way.

What is House of Chikankari all about to explain? Business turnover?

We, at House of Chikankari, are committed to preserving and reviving the traditional art of Chikankari by creating contemporary and timeless pieces that celebrate the craft’s rich heritage. Our mission is to provide the finest quality Chikankari products that offer both comfort and style while also educating our customers on the art form’s history and cultural significance.

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As a brand, we are dedicated to supporting the skilled artisans who bring our designs to life. We strive to create a constant demand for their craft by introducing it to a younger audience and making it relevant to modern fashion.

Since our inception in 2020 as a mother-daughter duo with a mutual desire to make a deeper impact on our country’s craftsmen, we have grown to become a recognized name in the industry with a strong presence on social media and a loyal customer base.

We are proud to make Chikankari more appealing to younger generations through our contemporary designs and innovative approaches to reaching our customers. Our ultimate goal is to bring the beauty of Lucknow’s Chikankari to everyone worldwide at the click of a button.

We are thrilled to share that our dedication and hard work have resulted in almost 20 crores in gross revenue in FY 2022-2023. We remain committed to staying true to our values and mission as we continue to grow and expand our impact.”

The mother and Daughter duo is one of the most important things to see their children smile. Talk with us about that? 

The bond between a mother and her child is one of the strongest and most special relationships in the world. When we, the mother-daughter duo behind House of Chikankari, came together to start a business venture, it was not just about building a successful enterprise but also about creating something that brings joy and happiness to each other. Our journey has been a beautiful amalgamation of our shared passion for traditional crafts and our deep love for each other.

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Working with your mother is the best feeling ever as she would want to fulfill your dreams as much as you would want to. There is a sense of comfort and familiarity that comes with working with someone you have known your entire life. You know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and you know how to motivate each other to do better. And working with your daughter is also equally good as no one else would understand you better than her. There is a special bond that a mother and daughter share, and we feel blessed to be able to channel that bond into something as beautiful as the House of Chikankari.

Starting a business is never easy, and being a mother-daughter team brought its own unique set of challenges. We had to navigate the dynamics of working with family, while also dealing with the everyday challenges of running a business. However, our shared vision and unwavering dedication kept us going through the highs and lows. We have always been each other’s biggest support system, and that has been the key to our success. We have learned to respect each other’s opinions, and we have developed a deep sense of trust that has helped us make sound business decisions.

As we persevered, our business began to grow, and we were able to create a positive impact not just for our own family but also for the artisans we worked with, our team, as well as our customers who appreciated our craft. We believe that our success is a testament to the power of family, the strength of our shared values, and the importance of staying true to your passion. Our journey has been a beautiful reminder of the power of love, and we hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams with the same spirit of determination and dedication that we have.

What is the vision of your business five years down the line? 

At the House of Chikankari, we strongly believe in giving back to our community. We actively participate in various social initiatives aimed at uplifting and empowering marginalized groups, particularly women and children. We recognize that as a business, we have a social responsibility to contribute positively to society, and we are committed to doing our part.

We are dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of our artisans at the grassroots level. In addition to providing them with a platform to showcase their skills and generate income, we also aim to provide them with additional benefits such as access to healthcare and education for their children in the future as we grow. We believe that this will contribute towards creating a sustainable and prosperous community.

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As a mother-daughter team, we are deeply invested in creating a legacy for our family that transcends beyond financial success. Our goal is to establish a business that values our rich cultural heritage, supports our communities, and contributes positively to the world. We are excited to continue our journey, always staying true to our values of excellence, quality, and compassion.

What is the most challenging thing about Being an entrepreneur? 

As an entrepreneur, one of the most challenging aspects of building a successful business is the need to delegate responsibilities and build a strong team. In the early stages of starting a business, many entrepreneurs find themselves wearing multiple hats and handling a wide range of tasks themselves. However, as the business grows, it becomes increasingly important to identify and delegate responsibilities to other team members.

Delegating tasks requires a significant amount of trust in your team members and the ability to relinquish control. Many entrepreneurs struggle with this aspect of their role, feeling a sense of ownership over every aspect of the business. But in order to grow, it’s essential to build a team of skilled individuals who can take on various tasks and responsibilities, allowing the entrepreneur to focus on the bigger picture.

Another challenge of building a team is identifying and hiring the right individuals. Finding employees who share the same values, work ethic, and vision for the business can be a time-consuming and challenging process. It’s essential to take the time to find the right people who are not only qualified but also fit well within the company culture.

Finally, learning to let go of control and trust the team to handle various tasks can be difficult for some entrepreneurs. But, it’s essential to remember that delegation doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility altogether. It’s still vital to monitor progress, provide guidance, and ensure that tasks are completed to the desired standard.

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Talk with us about how Entrepreneurship is changing the world in its way, do you agree? Give us some reason or example.

Entrepreneurship is positively impacting the world by creating jobs, promoting social and environmental causes, and encouraging diversity and inclusion. For instance, at House of Chikankari, we started by providing jobs for those affected by COVID-19 and have since grown to a team of 100 in Delhi, working with over 5000 artisans. We also focus on promoting the traditional Indian artwork of Chikankari to a younger audience while uplifting the artisanal community. Additionally, entrepreneurship allows people from diverse backgrounds to succeed based on their skills and ideas, resulting in a more inclusive economy. Women entrepreneurs, in particular, are creating millions of jobs worldwide, and at House of Chikankari, we are proud to be a 100% women-led management team.

Talk about the shark tank experience.

Participating in Shark Tank was an incredible experience that will always be a highlight of our entrepreneurial journey. It was an opportunity to showcase our brand, House of Chikankari, and share our passion for preserving and promoting the traditional Indian art form of Chikankari.

From the moment we stepped onto the set, the energy and excitement were palpable. We were nervous, but also confident in our product and the message we wanted to convey. The judges were tough but fair, and we knew we had to be at the top of our game to impress them.

When we got offers from four of the Sharks, it was a surreal moment. We had worked so hard to get to that point, and the validation from such successful business leaders was an incredible feeling. We knew that their investment and expertise would be invaluable in taking our business to the next level.

The impact of Shark Tank was immediate and significant. Our sales skyrocketed, and we achieved our highest-ever sales in January 2023, the month that our episode aired. The exposure and visibility that the show provided were incredible, and we received an outpouring of love and support from our existing community, as well as from new customers who discovered us through the show.

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But the impact went beyond just the financials. Participating in Shark Tank also motivated our team in ways we couldn’t have imagined. It gave them a renewed sense of purpose and pride in the work that they do, and it pushed us all to strive for even greater success.

Looking back on the experience, we are grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of such an iconic show. We know that it will continue to have a positive impact on our business for years to come.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting a business? 

Starting a business is a challenging and unpredictable journey that requires perseverance, hard work, and resilience. Therefore, it’s important to always remember the Japanese proverb “fall down seven times, get up eight” and keep pushing forward no matter how many times you fail. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow, and ultimately, succeed.

Another valuable piece of advice is to be receptive to feedback and advice from others, while also trusting your instincts and vision for your business. Listening to your customers, team members, and mentors can help you make informed decisions that align with your values and goals, but ultimately, it’s up to you to determine the best path forward.

Furthermore, entrepreneurship is not just about making money or achieving success. It’s also about making a positive impact on the world and the communities around you. Therefore, always strive to create something meaningful and valuable, and never lose sight of the passion and purpose that led you to start your business in the first place.

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Written By

Soumyajit Dutta is a Cricket News Analyst and Author at Empire Weekly.

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