The idea of starting a gift shop came to me in 2019. It had been almost a year since I graduated from Law School. I had switched a few law firms in the first year after graduating and found that being a lawyer wasn’t as satisfying as I had thought it would be.
My parents have been running a Plants Nursery in Greater Noida for the last 25 years. It served as a nice escape for me from the corporate culture which I experienced in Delhi. I used to visit it regularly over the weekends and started to learn a little bit about plants. The Nursery had a large Pots and Planters collection. I noticed it hadn’t been showcased properly and there was room for improvement. Better presentation would surely make the customers more responsive to the range of Pots which were available.
I decided to act. There was a storeroom which had been unused for a while which had potential to be converted into a decent showroom. I shared the idea with my mother and received an encouraging response. I decided to leave the Law Apprenticeship and devote my time to designing the Showroom. In the middle of setting up the Showroom, I started to source products which would go nicely with the range of planters. I envisioned the showroom to be a Garden Store Cum Gift Shop for which I would need quirky and whimsical products. I started sourcing Animal Sculptures and Figures along with Animal Shaped Pots to add to the range of products. In a few months, the store became fully functional.
To acquire our first customers, we started to divert the customers at the Nursery to the store to study the response. Most people who visited the showroom for the first time were in awe of the interiors. They had never thought that there would be a store with such rustic interiors in Greater Noida. Even though they hadn’t planned to visit a Garden Store Cum Gift Shop at a Nursery, some of them could not resist the variety of products we were offering. After a few months, I invested the money from the sales in the store to build a Website for the products. I felt that these products had a wide customer base which was still untapped, and that people would be interested in the things we were offering. The name for the brand ‘Whispering Leaves’ came into being as I wanted the brand to resonate with Nature.
It is extremely satisfying when somebody appreciates you for the work you have done. Since the store has started, I have received numerous compliments about the range of products we are offering. The Journey of developing the Website has also been a rewarding one. I am not that tech-savvy, so it was a learning process for me as well. In the end, a few of the essential inputs for the design of the Website came from me, even though there was a professional team that I had engaged for that. The relationships I have developed with the suppliers of the Garden Products has been fruitful.
There seemed to be a pre-conceived notion among the customers that bargaining was the norm while visiting a Nursery. Since the Store was in the premises of the Nursery, the customers were haggling with me on a regular basis. To resolve this, I affixed the sign board which stated ‘Fixed Prices’ in all corners of the store and started to give weekly discounts on some of our products. Another challenge I faced was after the Website was completed and became functional. To attract customers, it was essential to spend on advertising. But I was more interested in the Organic Growth of the Brand. I am still trying to find new ways to quicken the pace of the website growth so that new and prospective customers can find it.
The Way Forward
The Boom in the E Commerce space had led me to believe that the customers should have access to products like ours from the comfort of their home. Home Décor is a category of business which has a lot of growth potential if done the right way. There is an array of products to be offered and new designs can always be introduced. I am looking forward to the Journey ahead as I am sure there are a lot of interesting things to be learnt and found.
[This article is written by Raghav, founder of Whispering Leaves]