In Conversation with… Mahalasa Kini, Founder, Ghar By Malsi.
Please help us know you better. (Your background)
I am a third-generation entrepreneur, born and brought up in Manipal, Karnataka. While keeping myself engaged in arts, crafts, and extracurriculars, I pursued MBA from the prestigious TAPMI, Manipal. After completing my master’s degree, I worked as a Management Trainee in Mumbai before I took to explore the creative and entrepreneurial energy in me and worked as a freelance business and marketing consultant. I travelled and experienced various arts and crafts across parts of the country and the world. I was instantly drawn to the talented weavers and craftsmen of our country and led a sustainable lifestyle. Due to this, I started learning weaving and textile designing from the local artisans who are masters in their craft. But the sad reality of how the number of weavers was drastically declining caught on to me. I then founded – Ghar By Malsi, a sustainable lifestyle brand. Through Ghar by Malsi, I closely work with the weavers, promoting a collaborative effort of new-age ideas, technology, and traditional weaving techniques. Still, in its initial stages, Malsi has already gained recognition for promoting local handloom products to much greater audiences around the globe. I currently hold the position of Charter President of a community-based Rotaract club, Rotaract club of Manipal Central, where we engage in services to the society and development of youth.
Tell us about Ghar By Malsi. How did it all start?
Sarees have always been at the core of my fashion and, drawing my interest through it was a natural process. On aligning my interest with weavers, I realized a greater social and cultural responsibility; to bring forth the work of these hidden talents. Talents of people who have survived the traditional art form of textile design with knowledge passed down from generations within the weaver community.
How has your journey been so far?
It’s a process of continual learning. With the weavers acknowledging my ideas and incorporating new designs into their craft, it has been an enriching journey to bring positive changes to the community.
You would have faced many challenges as a part of this journey. What motivates you to keep striving?
As I am from a business background, the entrepreneurial bug was always in me, and I have been aware that there will be challenges down the road. I have a great support system, my team of employees and the artisans I work with all put in efforts as a unit to ensure our goals are reached. There is also a constant source of encouragement I receive from my family and friends that keep me going.
How is the competitive scenario in the industry you operate?
Competition is prevalent everywhere. While we all strive to get a share of the expendable income of our consumers, in the world of social entrepreneurship and sustainability, we work towards more than achieving monetary goals and making profits. If you see it with a new perspective we work together at making the lives better for all stakeholders involved, ensuring creative dignity to the artisans, passing down the talent to new generations, and leading a comfortable life.
The pandemic has affected many businesses. What are the immediate challenges your Business faced, and how do you plan to overcome them?
The two rounds of the pandemic have brought different experiences. The first one was a surprise, something new to the entire world, and everyone was trying to make sense of it. The second wave has been harder. With the number of cases rising and affecting close family and friends, many brands came to a standstill. Individual spending in fashion also decreased with nowhere to go. As a brand, we have tried to be mindful of these tough times and took breaks to ensure we do not contribute to the spread of the virus. One good thing that came about when the world stood still was connecting/reconnecting with people across the world, there was a surge in time spent across various social media platforms, and almost everyone befriended technology. This allowed creating awareness about the various arts and artisans, it helped in educating the customers about sustainability and identifying authentic sources for quality products. We also connected with new artisans who were in distress and helped by giving them an opportunity and financial aid through our platform.
Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey, is there something you feel you could have done differently?
As a new start-up, we spend a lot of time in research and knowledge gathering. I would have liked to include our customers also on that journey as it builds a good bond and ensures authenticity. We are implementing strategies to reach larger audiences and to portray our work to new customer bases.
On a personal note, I am socially shy when it comes to telling others about the things I do.
What would be your advice to all the budding entrepreneurs?
Be mindful of how the work you do affects your surroundings, the communities you operate in, and the world at large. It is essential to have constant faith in your ideas and the people you engage with. Surround yourself with people that inspire and guide you to better yourself.