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From A Corporate Career To Starting Her Own Business: Disha Aggarwal On Pataaka2 min read

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Disha Aggarwal’s personality is as vibrant as the collection of bags and wallets she designs and retails through her brand Pataaka Studio.

Her business and life journey is evidence enough that it takes a village to support a business. From her extensive corporate career to a rich academic career, Disha has struck the right note on planned risk-taking.

According to Disha, her brand ‘Pataaka’ understands the importance of bags & wallets as an accessory for a woman. Therefore, it has chosen an audience of its own. Disha feels that every beautiful woman out there, who carries herself with immense poise and finesse deserves the right amount of style in the accessory she carries too. ‘Pataaka’ is carefully designed for the ones who are not afraid to be different. 

“Not so long ago, consumers only cared about price and functionality. Today, consumers look beyond price tags and good deals. ‘Pataaka’ is more than an atelier, it’s an expression for my fervent love for bags.” 

Here is what Kool Kanya asked Disha Aggarwal about Pataaka journey and what it took to start her own business.

Q. What is your business about?        

“Pataaka” includes totes, slings, utility pouches, travel bags, wallets and lunch totes – each category with a wide variety of products. Any fabric combination or pattern/style is a unique concept and deluxe edition.

With a plethora of bags available in the market, the aim of ‘Pataaka’ is to provide something that is not readily available.

‘Pataaka’ bags are made of fabrics varying from faux leather to handloom and printed fabrics. Every bag is made with a thorough research of trends in the international couture fashion. The designs are created in a way that textile used becomes the star of the product.

A bag is such an accessory that never stays the same and changes with every season at a rapid speed. Therefore, style and utility have to go hand in hand. However, ‘Pataaka’ makes sure that the products do not stand out just as a style statement but are excellent in functionality as well.

But the brand is not just limited to products. Being a strong-minded woman herself, Disha believes that the only way to help other women is to add to their lives. Along with catering uniquely stylish products, her aim is also to make women learn hand-work embroideries that adds up as a skill to their personalities. 

Q.  How long have you been running it now? 

It’s been a year now.

Q. How/when did you discover this opportunity?

I was always keen on doing something of my own… all the twists and turns in my personal life have led me to explore more and better in me… Pataaka is all about a new Disha, a new direction… all set to unlearn to create something new. 

Q. Why did you want to start your own business?

I wanted to connect with myself and get out of my comfort zone. Apart from the obvious reason of making money, I wanted to  challenge myself to get better. 

Q. What is the support you have received? Personal? Financial? Emotional? Any other?

I never wanted to take any financial support,  so I decided to continue teaching at NIFT as a guest faculty so that I can take care of my expenses and also use the money for the business…

I belong to a business family so my Dad has been a big support in terms of guiding through crucial decisions, financial decisions, anger management and much more. Some special friends have been there to guide me and have been a big emotional help during hard times. Apart from them, my sister never misses a chance to promote my work and my nephew loves everything I do.

My business coach Savitha, who taught me to never give up, to believe in what I do and what I want.  Also, my students who have been there when I needed help with social media,  photography or even my website…

Q. Have you legally protected your business idea? Any other legal work involved?

Yes the logo has been registered. 

Q. How much funding did you need to start this business? How and where did you use it? 

I started with an investment of Rs.1,50,000 out of which 10,000 was spent on logo design, 5,000 was spent for logo registration, around 15,000 for initial sampling  and around 15,000 for creating social media posts and photography and the rest for a trip to Bali as part of my masterclass workshop with Savitha, my business coach.

Q. Where did you get this funding from?

My savings from my corporate job and my academic career helped me self-fund my business.

Q. What are your future funding sources. How do you plan to get it?

Well, at the moment I plan to use money from my savings and my earnings… I am looking forward to expand my business by working on government projects where 50% of the funding is done by the government.

Q. Do you have a team working for you?

I have a very flexible team. I work with a bunch enthusiastic freelancers. Most of them are my students from NIFT.  And also, as part of a project I am doing in Baramati…they work on the packaging for my products.

I usually hire people on a need-to-do basis.

Q. What were the first steps you took to start this business?

I decided a name for the brand and created a logo. I then registered my company. This was suggested by my father who is a businessman himself and by my business coach.

Q. What were the challenges then? How did you tackle them?

The biggest challenge was to understand the legal formalities about registration.

Registering the brand in my maiden name proved to be difficult after my divorce.

It’s very simple to get your husband’s name after marriage … But after divorce getting your own maiden name is one of the most difficult things…that’s what I have realised. 

Q. What are the challenges now? How are you going about solving them?

Primarily, I have financial requirements for expanding my business. I also need manpower especially a person for social media and online selling who can handle the website and other online shopping portals. 

Q. How do you promote your business? 

I use Instagram and Facebook and also showcase my work through exhibitions. For me what has worked the best is the most conventional way of promotion – word of mouth

Q. What are the mistakes you could have avoided at the start?

Hmmm…I was too ambitious and started working on too many projects  at the same time… due to which there was no focus.

My biggest learning has been that it’s very important to streamline your actions and checkpoints for a better growth.  

Q. What is your sales strategy?

The initial one year is for branding and marketing.  Also, the product that I am working on is a very competitive product.  So for that, I have been concentrating on costing and understanding the ideal client. I also intend to capture a global market through online sales… Currently, I am working on a sales strategy which should be implemented from 2020.

Q. What are your 1-year and 5-year business goals?

In the next 5 years I see Pataaka Studio as a 5-crore company and at least 200 women working with me on my project. 

Q. How long did it take for you to make your first sale?

The first bag was bought by my best friend so not too long.

Q. What kind of life changes have you made after you started your business?

A lot of habits have changed since I started my business. For one, I keep a track of all my expenses and I have learnt to ask for money if I have made a sale. Initially, I used to struggle with asking for money but now I don’t fail to send reminders for getting my money.

Apart from that, learning to keep calm when things don’t go my way has been a great lesson. And my interactions with people have taught me not to trust people implicitly.

Q.  Do you have a back-up plan if this business doesn’t work?

No, I don’t…because there is no looking back now… Plan B always puts me into a comfort zone which is not an option for me… 

Q. Three tips for small entrepreneurs?

  • Believe in your idea and be consistent.
  • Have a plan for at least a year before you start any project.
  • If you start something, don’t end it because somebody else is asking you to do. Stand for your decision/word.

Q. What’s your one-line business pitch for your business?

Be fearless. Be a Pataaka.

To find out more about Pataaka, find it on Instagram and Facebook.

Your story can be the legacy you leave behind on your path. Share Your Story. Raise Your Power. Kool Kanya has come up with an online community of women where they can share stories of their challenges and triumphs. It’s a safe space for women to reach out to other women who have already walked on that path before. Follow the Kool Kanya page on Instagram or join our Career Guidance Group on Facebook and Sign Up Here to be a part of this exclusive community for the first 1000 sign ups.

Roopal Kewalya is the Penguin author of the book THE LITTLE RAINMAKER. She believes that stories reveal possibilities and lives to share them through screenwriting, filmmaking and performances.

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