“Creating a platform like Dharavi Market.com was my passion project. After I witnessed the talents the artisans possessed, I wanted to provide them with a platform that helped them showcase their talent. My goal was to change the outlook people had towards Dharavi and highlight its hidden gems,” says Megha Gupta, founder of Dharavi Market.com as she walks us through the journey of creating such a unique platform and acing the road towards glory!
What is Dharavi Market?
Dharavimarket.com is much more than just an e-commerce platform. It’s a strong community of 300 craftsmen who reside in the slums of Dharavi. When I started this website, my sole virtue was to connect these artisans to the right source . The idea was to give them a platform to help them flourish their business. At Dharavimarket, we design and manufacture bags and accessories for our own brand ‘90 Feet’ or other brands like Bombay Troopers, Sol shoes and many more.
Could you tell us about your journey of establishing Dharavi Market?
It might seem odd but the idea of creating the Dharavi market struck me by accident. I was working on my urban planning project and Dharavi was my place of choice. While researching, I came across these talented artisans who were eager to create beautiful artwork. Witnessing their potential, I decided to launch a website and give them the visibility they deserved.
What made you choose this as a full-time career?
The growth of the website opened new doors for me. As soon as the website went live, we were globally recognised. Right from BBC, The Forbes, Al Jazeera to Singapore and Japanese Television, our website was the talk of the town. Even Economic times did a first-page piece which read ‘Dharavi’s Digital Leap.’ Thanks to our website, Dharavi became known for its art. People from across the globe wanted to know how they could replicate it in their own country.
What were the struggles that you faced in your journey?
The first three years were extremely tough. Right from production, e-commerce to the marketing aspect, I learned everything about the industry through this venture. Being an urban planner, I always knew how to build relations. This quality came handy while communicating with the artisans.
How did the lockdown impact your business?
From a business perspective, in the initial months, when everything was shut we had zero sales. But thankfully now the sales have picked up well. On a personal level, my first instinct was to help the craftsmen. For which we did a food distribution drive. We served around 80,000 meals in a month to more than 2000 craftsmen.
How has technology played its fate in your business?
Technology, especially online payments have become a blessing. It has helped me run the karigaar’s payments with ease. Earlier karigars were not at all tech-savvy but now they have also learned how to use it. Another app that has helped me to ease communication with the karigars is WhatsApp. Most of our karigars cannot read or write, so Whatsapp audio notes and sharing images has made things simpler for us.
One tip for someone who wants to make it big in the industry?
Start small, simply because at every step you will make mistakes. You will be able to recover this small loss quickly rather than bearing huge losses for years. Another tip is to learn from your mistakes and then think of scaling up. Always have a strong foundation and try to bring a positive change in others’ lives by adding some meaningful value to it.
Where do you think the fashion industry is headed?
Be it a designer or a manufacturer, everyone has shifted their focus towards sustainability. Today, people have realized the importance of conscious consumption. To be a part of this revolution, I have partnered up with Vuja de for an upcoming project named ‘Zhero.’ It consists of manufacturing materials that can be used in upcycled products.
If someone needs to get anything manufactured from DharaviMarket.com, what is the best way to reach you?