When a girl was told it wasn’t possible, she poured her Bhav into her venture Bhav Products

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When a girl was told it wasn’t possible, she poured her Bhav into her venture Bhav Products

Haven’t some of us thought of buying a new diary to keep journals every day? And as we land the tip of our pen on the paper, haven't we been through the phase where the ink spreads almost like an epidemic due to the poor quality of paper and that kills our inspiration to write any further? We scrap the paper off, and maybe also think of keeping the journals until the unforeseeable future. We afford to lose records of our memories, feelings, emotions, ideas just because a paper couldn’t hold it firm.  But, Bhintuna “Jya-Poo”, founder of Bhav Products, didn’t let anything stop herself from expressing, she instead built a company that makes notebooks to inspire expression. 

                   (Source: myrepublica.com

Doing something for your own isn’t an easy affair but that which can fight the odds remains. When she was told that her idea for a venture in the paper industry was not going to work, she challenged their beliefs and started her own venture Bhav Products. An introvert graphic designer with a creative outlook to the world around her, Bhintuna started manufacturing stationeries that allows people to pour Bhav (feelings) into the elegantly and skillfully crafted notebooks and planners. Her journey yells why people who were bringing her down were wrong in all possible ways.

 

How a DIY project turns into a business idea

It started as a DIY Project. Bhintuna wasn’t able to derive good writing experience from available notebooks, which were mostly Indian and Chinese, in the market. One day she thought of combining three notebooks she got as birthday gifts into one and made a notebook cum planner for her personal use. Whenever the notebook came out in front of people, they became curious and loved the aesthetics. Some of them shared how they couldn’t find anything like those in the market, and wished to own something of the similar kind as her DIY.

She wanted to help them and create good writing experience for people. She thought of importing first, but it didn’t make sense to her because there were already imported notebooks, and usually expensive that people would not even feel like writing anything down given the beauty of the diary. She then moved on to the idea of making them herself. “I knew the market is small, but if I am able to offer them good quality products and earn loyal customers, that would be nice,” says Bhintuna. She then went forth on her journey as an entrepreneur.

I knew the market is small, but if I am able to offer them good quality products and earn loyal customers, that would be nice.

 

The incubation period

She pitched the idea to one of her friends. He liked the concept and agreed to become a silent investor right away. Each of them invested 50% of the total initial investment.

In September 2014, she started her research and product development, and throughout the process, she faced the reality. She searched for the types of papers available in the market to decided on the paper she should be using. “I only needed small amount to experiment with, and if you were importing these papers, you had to do it in huge amounts, for which I did not have capital. Then I thought I would use the best quality material of what is available in Nepal,” she adds. But she did not have any knowledge of papers, not even the name of the type.

I only needed small amount to experiment with, and if you were importing these papers, you had to do it in huge amounts, for which I did not have capital. Then I thought I would use the best quality material of what is available in Nepal.

“Can you show me some nice papers, dai?” That is how she started. But shopkeepers wouldn’t give her samples, or would avoid her telling her that the papers are out of stock, or would take her for granted just because she was young. However, some of them guided her through this chaos and helped her. She would bring those papers she gathered home, and test them with different pens for quality. 

She wanted to experiment with different things. She didn’t want to use plain white papers, so she started experimenting with different colours. She also wanted to break the accepted norm of using two lines for writing, grids for maths and blanks for drawing; she did so by introducing both grids and dot grids that are used by designers, architects and engineers so that people could have something beyond what they were already seeing.

Cover designs of the notebooks also carries stories to inspire and the representation of Nepali culture. A great deal of thought has been put behind choosing the design of the cover so that the consumer can relate, personalise and make the Bhav notebook an essential part of their daily life.

Again, when she landed that concept to publishers, they didn’t approve. They were sceptic because the idea was new. “I made a sample myself, printed at home, stapled it and showed the idea to them. They only accepted it slowly.”

However, she wasn’t only concentrated on the product; she was also thinking of branding it. She found ways to package the products, make them multi-functional, deliver a unique customer experience by ensuring minimal design style on her products. 

The first production was completed by November, and on 28 December 2014, Bhav Products hit the market.

 

Making a place in the market

Just as Bhintuna was working to make Bhav Products visible to people, she got to know about the Art Market. She managed to get herself a space in the market that happens first Saturdays of every English month. She displayed her products and interacted with many customers. She got effective feedback for improvements very early when her company had just started.

She also believes that selling a product is more than fulfilling the demands of consumers. Bhav Products is growing because Bhintuna accepted one of the most important things early in the startup phase: keeping suppliers happy. Suppliers, who were once sceptic about the idea, are excited today with every new project she comes up with. “It’s mainly because we pay them on time,” says Bhintuna, “As a person struggling myself, I know the sweats that go into doing such manual works and the importance of getting paid on time.”

A solution driven entrepreneur, Bhintuna has found a way to create customer demand if there isn’t one already. She has been using competitions like “Naulo”, hashtags like “Feel of the month” to encourage people to write and plan. She is also participating and sponsoring events that are aligned to Bhav Products’ values. She also engages in creating content like writing blogs and posting helpful materials on social media, which allows people to find uses of her products. “When I started I knew the market was too small. But to make the market for the future, you need to start now. And that is what I did.”

Today Bhav Products are available at the Bhav Products physical store in New Road, online store(www.bhavproducts.com), the Art Market, Cafe Evoke (Pokhara), Facebook or Instagram and Bhatbhateni online. 

 

The Team of One

Bhintuna is not just the founder, she is also the entire crew of Bhav Products. She works alone because she thinks that design is the large part of Bhav Products, and since design is a very subjective concept, she finds it difficult to pass it to someone. It is also that she wants to save money that would otherwise go to salary at a time when money looks like a scarce resource. But she has asked some freelancers to design covers for her.

However, the comfort of being the one behind all comes with a lot of trade-off. Since she doesn’t have anyone to look after the Bhav Products store in New Road, she has to spend time in the store, which she could have instead given to designing new products. Sometimes when she has meetings outside, she also has to apologize to some customers who stop by. Moreover, she has to manage all the works, from accounting to social media to customer service. She is now thinking of opening internship opportunities to young bloods who seek opportunities for learning rather than earning.

 

Finances

Bhav Products has been running organically. Whatever is earned, Bhintuna and her silent investor add to the sum if necessary, and invest further on development of the brand and the product.

Every month about 50 to 70 notebooks are sold and the prices are very convenient. However, since the recent website launch, the numbers are growing. 

Bhintuna believes “Nothing is a final product. There is always a version. The final product we think today will become obsolete tomorrow.” It started when someone challenged the idea saying that wouldn’t work. But today, Bhav Products is challenging its own standards and rest, as they say, is history. 

Nothing is a final product. There is always a version. The final product we think today will become obsolete tomorrow.

 

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