• Pradnya Punekar

Journey of Airline Professional turned Artist and Creative Entrepreneur

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

From an airline professional to an artist who crafts stories through her beautiful creations and delivers it around India, and attracts customers from the Bollywood fraternity. Read her inspiring entrepreneurial journey.


 

Ever dreamt that your home could whisper beautiful stories and reflect your unique personality through art and craft? Or ever thought of gifting a loving story to your loved ones through art and craft?


Meet this creative entrepreneur from Mumbai who can turn your dreams into reality. She is on a journey to take art and crafts, and personalized gifting to a new level by “crafting stories through her unique creations which reflect each individual’s unique personality”.


Meet Mumpy Ronak Shetty, Founder of Meraki Crafts


Meraki Crafts was born at her home in Mumbai after an experimental study and journey of 4 years before she launched Meraki in May 2018.


She carries rich experience from working in the airline industry for 10 years and imbibes her roots from Assam. She has graduated in political science and later went on to study advertising and marketing.


Today she is a proud founder and owner of Meraki Crafts, which she has built from scratch with a vision to “Create with soul, love and creativity”.


Meraki began as a passionate hobby while she was on motherhood break in 2014. After working in the airline industry for 10 years she decided to take a break to cherish motherhood bliss and look after her son who was a year old back then. She began the journey from scratch with trials, errors, experiments,understanding and studying about the arts and craft market, indulging in extensive research, meeting the workers and craftsmen working on the ground and self learnt various techniques, all of this for 4 long years before she launched Meraki.


Having learnt various techniques from her mother, she never realised that this hobby would set a trend in the art and craft industry, and change her life and others life forever.

Meraki Crafts today is a popular and reputed brand in India which attracts customers from all over India and attracts customers from the Bollywood fraternity. Her passion, courage, hard work, resilience and continuous reinvention are the key Ingredients behind Meraki’s success.


Meraki Crafts caters through 3 verticals:

  • Personalized Gift Wrapping

  • Flowers and Cake

  • Paintings and all kinds of art and crafts


“Customer Satisfaction” is the main foundation on which Meraki Crafts is built. Each creation is curated uniquely. They live by their tagline, ‘A part of us for a beautiful yours’, they put their heart and soul in each of their creations. Mumpy told Katha in a relaxed conversation we had on a relaxed Sunday morning.


“I think it's very important to listen to your heart when you are in a business like this. Usually business requires tough decisions, but for me I dwell in human emotions because we are dealing in something very personal. I want people to feel special and emotionally elated with our products and services”
 

Getting Started


The Inception : “The Secret of getting ahead is getting started”.

While she was on her motherhood break she had decided to pursue her lost hobby and keep herself busy and engaged. She began her journey with crafting embroideries and knitting, which she had learnt from her mother. She was keen to learn new skills, and started self learning through YouTube and other sources.

She says “I remember my first Youtube video was to learn ribbon embroidery. I was very interested in learning the art”. Over time she learnt various art work such as making fabric flowers, burlap, Satin, felt etc which kept her busy in the adventurous journey of motherhood.


Alongside she began sharing her work on social media, and was flooded with appreciation from her family and friends who were surprised to see unique creativity which they thought never existed before. She realized then that there is a lot in the world of art and craft that people weren’t aware of.


Gradually she shifted her focus in learning many unique skills in craft, and began to explore new avenues and acquire new skills by learning new craft items, such as Christmas wreath, hand painted trunks, photo frames, decorative tissue boxes and other craft items most of which she just gifted away initially. While many suggested that she should start her own business she wasn’t convinced as yet, since she was keen to make a difference to people’s lives through her art.



With a lot of trial, errors, experience,experiments she learnt and unlearned every single day. Her artist mind would give her different perspectives which none could visualize, and she created unimaginable creations. This journey went on for 4 long years.


Ask her about her artistic mind and she says “Though I hardly consider myself as an artist and I am always surprised when people call me one. Maybe because I’m self taught and I don’t really have any professional training for any of my skills I feel I’m not really an artist.


However, I have realized training might give you an edge but at this day and age what matters is your zeal to do something and faith that you will do it”.

By 2018 she was all set and ready to deliver her unique creations to the world through “Meraki Crafts” which she launched on May 25th 2018.


Mumpy was very clear in her mind that her creations have to be unique and different and hence she didn’t rely blindly on the information that was readily available. She stepped out of her comfort zone, got onto the grass root level, engrossed herself into her own research at every stage. Right from meeting karigarhs, factory owners and labourers for orders, collaborating with vendors locally and internationally etc, she had never done so in her life before. In parallel she received a lot of encouragement and support from her husband, family and friends.


She talks proudly about the support she receives from her husband, “My husband also helped me initially to understand the basics of business and gave me total freedom to run it according to what I thought will work”.


She shares a moment which is very close to her heart,


“I think the reality of Meraki hit me when one evening my husband got home with a huge bundle of Meraki stickers. I knew then that there is no turning back”.

 



The Growth & Challenges :

As soon as she launched Meraki she began collaborating with various vendors in India and internationally to provide unique art and craft work. Right from florists, bakers,gift wrappers, painters etc and created exclusive artwork. She offered unique creations to each and delivered the best of best for each order she received.



She ensured that she delivered the best quality and unique creation and never repeated ideas/designs unless demanded by her own customers.


Within few months she was flooded with orders and ever since that day she has not looked back.






Talking about the initial days and how she scaled her business she says

“In the beginning it was tough to understand which way I wanted to go. I wasn’t earning much. It was mostly break even with zero profit. I was putting in a lot of hard work without any monetary gain. But I was okay with it as I was receiving a lot of adulation for my work. I wanted to focus on building trust”.

It was in 2019 when Mumpy decided to convert Meraki into a non profit organisation and has been contributing a part of Meraki’s profits to NGO and Charitable organisations. While regular days and months are quite busy for Meraki, festive days are all the more busier.

The Challenges


Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

With Meraki growing, Mumpy faced many challenges at every stage, but she was determined to overcome every challenge and achieve bigger milestones. As she began her entrepreneurial journey with no previous experience in business, and in-spite of having learnt art and crafts for 4 years she realized along the journey that there is a huge difference between imagining an idea in mind and implementing it into reality. But her determination and passion works like magic each time she encounters challenges.


The biggest challenge she continues to face till date is negotiating with the vendors and laborers and ensuring that she has the best competitive price for each of her creations.



Talking about the biggest challenge she says “ I think my greatest challenge was a Ganpati decor order that I received in September, right after I launched my brand. I plunged into it not knowing how I would do it. Even though I collaborated with a florist for it, the designing and creations of some of the elements were done exclusively by me alone. It was very taxing. But the outcome was fantastic. The clients were extremely happy and said that it was the first time in 7 years of Ganpati tradition at their home, that they had such amazing decor. I felt the order came as a blessing from Lord Ganpati for my business and up till now it remains my best ever work and will always have a special place in my heart”.


She emphasizes the importance of hard work and resilience to overcome challenges and she lives by these 2 virtues every single day.


She says “I can’t really stress how much hard work and an attitude to never give up goes behind building a business. I also learn from my mistakes and learn fast. Sometimes I realise my mistake even when I am making it and I do not repeat my mistakes"


Also I am not too hard on myself for making mistakes. I allow myself to make them. I think it important to make mistakes. It's a part of the learning process.

She envisions to scale Meraki year on year and lives by the mantra, ‘If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, SAY YES! - then learn how to do it later’.

Here’s a wonderful piece advice from Mumpy to other women entrepreneurs-

She says


“Be absolutely sure of what you want to give to the world and never be in a hurry or look for shortcuts. Success comes with hard work and perseverance. Always offer an USP (unique selling propositions). Do something which is not already there in the market. Be creative in your ideas even if you are not into creative business."

Think about your customers first and not just focus on making money. Be willing to not make profit right from the start. After sales services are equally important. Take feedback and be willing to take corrections. Manage your accounts strictly. Trust your products and advertise, advertise, advertise! Use the power of social media.

There is a saying in advertising- ‘Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but no one else does’

Also take care of your customers like family and trust in word of mouth. If people love your products, they will talk about it to their family and friends and before you know it you will have new customers.

Like advertising guru Philip Kotler said, ‘The best advertising is done by satisfied customers’


 

More about Mumpy :

Mumpy is married and settled in Mumbai with her husband who is a successful businessman and is blessed with a son. Her father is a ex IFS officer and her mother a homemaker. When asked what she loves most about her business she says


“The single most important thing that I love about my business are the people. I absolutely Love them. I can’t really express how much gratitude I have in my heart for every one of them who has never stopped encouraging me and trusting me with their orders. I love the fact that they approach me with all kinds of orders even if I have nothing to show them”.

When I face a big challenge : I tell myself everything works out at the end. Give your best . Don't leave any leaf unturned so even if things don’t turn out the way you want, you’d know you have given your best. I’ve never learnt to live in regret. I think it's very important not to live in regret and I don’t regret anything I’ve done in life.

My greatest fear is : Having to depend on others in sickness and old age and loosing my family.

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is- I stood up against sexual harassment at work even if I was ridiculed, asked to take back my complaint and gossiped about. This was long before the ‘ME TOO’ revolution and i'll forever be proud of myself for standing up against what is wrong without having the world to support me for it.

It took a lot of courage to face the world at that time. I was all alone in the city. I got threats and cold stares at work and I realized people can be ruthless and nasty if you stand up against something they don’t agree with or when they cannot manipulate you. But always always stand your ground because at the end truth prevails.

If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself : Nothing.


I’ll live the same life all over again. Make the same mistakes all over again. I think everyone should make their own mistakes, go through heart breaks, disappointments and life’s lessons to reach where they belong.

I believe in : The Universe and the laws of attraction.

The biggest lesson I have ever learned is : Not to give a damn about judgemental people.

My favourite business tool or resource is : Relationship building with the clients and honest hard work. This might not work for every business but for me this is the greatest tool that has worked.

My favourite quote is:


‘It always seems impossible until it's done’- Nelson Mandela



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