Entrepreneur: Prathiba Selvam
Business Name: It’s a Bow Thing
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 146
When it comes to startups, no idea is too small/too big; even a tiny spark might turn into a mighty flame. Just like how it turned out for Pratibha Selvam, a little thought clicked the entrepreneurial button in her life, and she went on from an ambitious girl to one of the bestsellers of Bows.
Bow lovers are always on the mission to find the perfect bow to match their outfits and hairstyles, and that was a tedious task to do earlier. Pratibha recognized this struggle and started creating customized bows for them. Their company is full of divine artists crafting each bow individually and thus putting their soul into their work.
How did she get this unique startup idea? From where did she get her inspiration? What mistakes shouldn’t one make to be successful? Pratibha shares the story of her tiny-turned-mighty startup.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
From a young age, I always knew I wanted to build my very own business from scratch. I was never one to be idle and handcrafting hair accessories was something that I stumbled upon after months of testing out various other ideas. I was actually looking to buy some customized hair bows but I was unable to find quality products. That is when I realised, I could make it myself and that there is a market for these products.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
Since my product occupies a niche category the number of potential customers is low due to which a targeted marketing campaign was required and since Instagram is one of the best platforms to do this on, my idea has come to fruition. Also, people are willing to pay a premium for their children, for themselves and their pets in choosing such handcrafted items over generic store-bought ones.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
One of my biggest influences is the strong streak of entrepreneurship that runs in my family. So when I started out, I was met with encouragement from all members of my family. They have helped me either by offering their advice or even by modelling for my products pro bono. Constructive criticism from them has helped me do better.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
When I started out my presence was only on Instagram whereas it would have been more beneficial if I had my website up simultaneously. Initially I had planned a very niche market, i.e. only for baby girls but I soon realised that young girls and adults were interested in my products. I soon expanded and now I make bows and bandanas for pets as well.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
Moving into another complementary product line along with scaling up of my operations is my biggest obstacle. Since all my products are handcrafted I have to look for suitably talented artisans who are hard to come by. I am looking to develop new products which are unique as well as not deviating too much from my existing product line will be a challenge.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
My work ethic along with my intolerance for anything substandard in my product offering helps me churn out quality products. I always like to plan my day in advance. This helps me manage my time effectively, leading to better productivity.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I would probably be more aggressive in my risk taking and also would have planned my marketing strategies in a different way.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Do what you love and the money will follow – Marsha Sinetar
9) Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration from different trend setters who may be celebrities or even someone I run into at social events. I also spend endless amounts of time pouring over fashion magazines and Pinterest.
10) What is your favourite book?
Girl stop apologising by Rachel Hollis and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Out of personal experience as an entrepreneur, I would definitively state that the first obstacle that you face would surely make you stronger. So, I would urge all fellow entrepreneurs to not give up at the first sign of trouble but rather look at it as a learning experience.
Even if you are on the right path, someone will overtake you if you sit idle. The story of Pratibha encourages us to keep working until we find our light. Like every startup, her company also faced impediments, but they managed to solve all problems and the result?
Today, their products are reaching various parts of India through online deliveries. Even the pandemic couldn’t stop their company’s growth as they started selling masks as their complementary product. In the world where pseudo feminists are ruining women’s image, at the same time, fighters like Pratibha are giving opportunities to local workers and making them independent.
Want to shop trendy bows? Check out It’s a Bow Thing on Instagram now!