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Interview: Janani Balasubramanian, Founder, Kaagitham

ST Bureau
New Delhi

This interview is a part of Startup Terminal interview series to mark the occasion of 'International Women's Day'



ST: Please tell us more about yourself.

Janani Balasubramanian: I was an engineering graduate who moved on to complete my Masters in Business Administration and had a brief work stint with the IT industry. I have always loved everything about crafts and arts and even as a child, I used to love being left alone with paint tins, brushes and papers and scissors.

Janani Balasubramanian,
Founder, Kaagitham
My love for paper jewelry happened when I was browsing through random DIY videos on YouTube. The fact that paper could be converted into jewelry was amazing! I started going through a lot of blogs, videos, and paper craft books and ended up creating simple designs. Over time, with a lot of trial and error, I was able to make sturdy paper designs that were waterproof and could be used just like any other jewelry.

Starting a Facebook page to showcase these designs was also something that was not preplanned. I started a page because it cost nothing and asked friends and relatives to share it across. Social media is a powerful medium. I started getting requests for orders and that is when I sensed, this was something bigger than just a hobby.

Right now, we have thousands of followers on social media, have our own website and also sell on marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Voonik etc. We have also had a few boutiques outside India selling our designs.



ST: Who is your biggest influence in life?

Janani Balasubramanian: I do not have one role model whom I follow. I try and learn a lot from people around me. Every successful entrepreneur, every failed one, every shopkeeper who convinces me to buy something I don’t actually want has helped me learn and grow!

ST: What challenges do you face in your day to day professional life, if any?

Janani Balasubramanian: We had started up with no external investment. It is always a challenge finding raw material, employees, strategies etc. with limited budgets that you have. When you do not have a co-founder, it means you have to touch base every single thing around the brand and multi-tasking gets stressful at times.

Building a startup from scratch is a very challenging task. A lot of times, bad days put you down. You start doubting yourself, your efforts, your ideas and pushing through such days are important to keep moving ahead. My husband has been my rock and has always believed in me and in Kaagitham a 100%. It is important you have few people like that around all the time to tell you good days are not far off.

ST: Where do you want to see yourself in next 5 years down the line?

Janani Balasubramanian: We are experimenting with different paper craft styles and want to implement all of those into jewelry designs. We are also looking to have physical presence around India in the next five years! Looking at paper jewelry and feeling how light weight it is, is a completely different feeling than seeing it online. We want to give users that experience soon.

We also want to introduce the idea of paper jewelry to people around. A lot of people still do not believe when we tell them what our jewelry is made of! Reaching the idea across is first on our to-do list.



ST: What is your message to the readers on ‘International Women’s Day’?


Janani Balasubramanian: As a woman, I think we should constantly tell each other that it is ok to break barriers, be independent, and demand the rights we deserve. It is ok to be married at 20, it is ok to be single in your 40s, it is ok to be a homemaker, it is ok to work 15 hours a day in office. It is perfectly alright to want to put yourself first at some places. As long as you do what you love and are truthful to yourself, things will fall in place.

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