After completing engineering studies, Shobbana Santhoshini didn’t have to wait long to start her career as a Software Engineer. However, after working for a few months in an IT company in Bangalore, she realized that she was missing something in life. She went ahead to explore what it was. Shobbana had an inclination for arts and crafts and realized that it was her creative skills which were missing! To fill up that vacuum, she decided to enter into the world of handcrafted jewelleries and started her venture Terracotta Factory. Probably, this was among the best decisions which Shobbana ever took in her life!
Today, Shobbana Santhoshini, the founder of Bangalore-based Terracotta Factory joins us in this interview session to share her inspiring story.
Hi Shobbana, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. Tell us, when did you develop the interest for arts and crafts?
I love Indian handmade items like terracotta jewellery, kalamkari, jute bags, etc. I have always been a supporter of home based businesses. Also, a regular visitor of the Gandhi ship bazaar (yearly handicrafts expo by the Government). I used to fix other people’s jewellery whenever they are broken or needed some tweaks. Since then, I knew this is what I loved.
Please tell us about your arts and crafts venture Terracotta Factory.
I started Terracotta Factory in 2014 to showcase my products which eventually started attracting customers.
How did you learn the art of jewellery designing?
I learnt jewellery designing from my friend who started it as a passion which turned into a great business for her.
What are some of your signature products that are different from the regular ones available in the local markets?
All my products are unique and they cannot be found anywhere else because they are handmade. Every handmade product is unique just like you or me. Being an ardent fan of TV shows and movies, I have now started making fridge magnets with F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Harry Potter themes. More themes to come in this category.
I also make something called as dream catchers. They are quite famous abroad but not in India and in shops at Brigade Road, Bangalore a small piece which is of worst quality retails for Rs. 250. The main thing about dream catchers is that they have to be made with natural materials. But the ones available in the local markets are mostly made up of plastics. I wanted to make genuine ones.
You are presently working as a Software Engineer. Managing time between your IT job and your venture must be quite a difficult task. Please tell us about a typical day in your life.
Yes, of course, it is tough, but hey, even the word impossible has the word possible in it, right?
My day: I wake up, go to my office and then when I am back I quickly finish my dinner and go to my workstation. Mostly, I work till 12 – 1 am. Usually, the products which require intricate workmanship, I leave them for the weekends. My Mom and Dad help me sometimes and it becomes a fun family activity.
Shobbana, how do you promote your products?
I promote them through Facebook Pages, Pinterest and Instagram. I also have 43 resellers, who buy from me and sell the products.
Narrate some of the memorable moments that you have come across in your entrepreneurial journey.
Whenever a customer receives the product, the excitement they have when they open the package, and when they say they loved the piece and thank me for it. Every single one of those moments is memorable and to be cherished.
As an entrepreneur, what are the challenges that you must deal with?
Challenges mostly lie in the fluctuating market. It is not that you receive orders on a daily basis. So, one month will be packed with orders and the other might not. Also, it hurts when people bargain like crazy, I mean every single hook is made by hand. It is a tiring, time-consuming, laborious task.
People should learn to value handmade items more. We do not go to a Levi’s store and bargain, right?
What are your future plans?
Future…. I can go on and on about it. I am a very ambitious person (in a positive way). And, I do not want to get stuck doing one thing alone. I would love to be a part of everything. If you have the time, then I can tell you about 3 of my ventures which are put on hold because of lack of time.
Anything else you want to share…
I would love to start a shop for a cause and the proceeds will be given to someone in need. I am working on this bit now.
And one last question of this session Shobbana, if you have had one wish…
I would like to expand my venture Terracotta Factory into something big that would help a lot of people from rural areas. I would love to employ them, make amazing jewelleries and export them which in turn would help our economy.