Personalising and customising stationery always adds to the quirk and fun of gifting a variety of things to children and adults. Nini & Co, a city-based startup that is just a year old, has ventured into this aspect of design, delivering colourful and vibrant stationery items. “I have always wanted to start something of my own but I thought I’d do so after a few years of working. Instead, I decided to take the leap and start now itself rather than waiting,” says Tanvi Agarwal, founder of Nini & Co, the company she named after her niece.
The 21-year-old’s fascination for art began early on and continued as she equipped herself to use software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Being the only one working in this company, the designer handles everything and produces a wide array of customised products like note cards, notepads, folders, envelopes, table mats, mugs and bottles, slates, hangers, dream catchers, succulents in custom-made pots, wrapping paper and ribbon, door hangers and décor for corporate events and birthday parties.
Taking the experience and learning from her earlier internships, Agarwal stresses on the importance of being disciplined. “In my earlier internships, I saw how disciplined my boss was. He was so involved in everything going on and would be the last to leave work. That’s when I realised that starting your own business and being your own boss doesn’t mean that you can get away with things. You actually have to work more than anyone else. That taught me a lot but I still didn’t know how a startup works. It was trial and error for me.”
Being a young entrepreneur comes with its challenges. Agarwal explains what she faced as she was setting up Nini & Co, “Firstly, I had no idea as to how to go about things. I had to make a few mistakes to learn. Secondly, because of my age, people don’t take me seriously. It is challenging to get people to trust you with big orders. Thirdly, getting the right kind of exposure was hard. People got to know about my work through word of mouth and a bit of social media. It is very important to reach out to the right kind of people. It took a while for me to understand who my target audience is and how I should reach them. I have shown my work at exhibitions and flea markets only to realise that exhibitions work better for me. It attracts people who come to buy my products.”
Agarwal emphasises that it is important to register your company and has done so herself. “When you do décor for events, you are generally asked for your VAT number for the billing. It is very unprofessional if you don’t have your papers in order and it gives people a reason to doubt your work.” This startup caters to people between the ages of 16 to 45 years targeting mothers for their child’s stationery. The products have been priced competitively and there is no minimum order.
Reaching out to clients in Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Mumbai, Agarwal sees this venture diversifying in future, “I want to expand in terms of my customised products and focus more on décor. My stationery will always be there but the aim is to get my work into other cities as well. There is also the possibility of opening a website wherein people can buy Nini & Co products there.”
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