You may remember a couple months ago when Caya launched what ended up being a successful crowdfunding campaign with us on Next Chapter. Charu Mehrotra was nervous but excited and really took all of our advice in stride. She ultimately achieved her funding target and has continued to grow her brand since then.
Read on to find out more about Charu's story and her experience with crowdfunding.
Why did you choose to crowdfund?
We crowdfunded with Next Chapter late last year. It was a great learning experience for us in our first year of business.
The primary reason was to raise funds early on in the business and also, to get validation of the business idea.
Since a part of our collection has a very strong social angle, we wanted to create a community around CAYA that would fund the project and also helps in spreading the word.
We were fortunate to raise small sums of money from a large number of people which we then invested in producing and delivering beautiful hand-made products.
What was the most difficult part of the process and how did you overcome it?
It definitely wasn't smooth sailing throughout. Despite prior preparation, we initially struggled with marketing the campaign. With the support from Next Chapter, we could reach out to the appropriate media channels. Matching the networks that suited our strategies and where our potential supporters might be, was a long process with many hits and misses until we figured it out.
Can you identify 3 keys to your success?
"The first would be telling our story in an engaging manner"
It took us some time to figure out the right balance between text and visuals, information and emotional connect and present it all to our followers in a way designed to build a deep bond.
Another key to our success was using social media like Facebook and Instagram to spread awareness about our products. We posted regularly to keep the pages active and were careful to customize promotions to suit each platform.
The most important key to success in our case and in the case of any product, is the product itself. I was able to validate the business idea as I found a genuine need gap between those who were interested in traditional textiles, handmade products with sustainable production that were also cost effective, trendy and relevant. And that’s where CAYA fit in.
Were there any unexpected benefits of crowdfunding?
One of the biggest benefits of crowdfunding was recognition even after the campaign ended. People started contacting us for various selling and sourcing opportunities which was very encouraging.
Another unexpected benefit was that it made us stop and analyse what we were doing and get far more organized in a short period of time. For a small business, this is invaluable to help us stay focused.
Would you do it again or recommend it as a viable option to secure funding (feel free to answer honestly! and, if you don't have 100 words on this, no problem just answer however you like)?
Definitely. It is perfect for small businesses and start-ups to get the initial funding to become viable. Also, it is suitable for product testing and validation before investing more time and resources into a business idea.
"People started contacting us for various selling and sourcing opportunities"
What's next now that your campaign is complete?
So much has been happening since our campaign got funded. We are looking to diversify to other sustainable products on the sourcing side. At the same time, we are looking to expand to more markets in south-east Asia while strengthening our online presence. Thanks to crowdfunding, we could secure funds and reach out to more people around the world. The funds have been partially invested in our 'Cool Cottons' collection and also set aside to build a small library at our workshop in India. We are very excited about both.
CAYA is an eco-lifestyle brand dedicated to promoting hand-made, natural and sustainable clothing and home furnishings. It aims to showcase heritage Indian weaves with a contemporary twist, on a global platform.