Harvi Shah, Founder & CEO of Bling Bag and first-generation entrepreneur, is an SP Jain alumnus from the GMBA Class of 2008. Her start-up story was featured in YourStory, a leading digital publication covering promising and innovative startups. We got in touch with Harvi to know about her startup and her inspiring entrepreneurial journey so far.
What is “Bling Bag” all about?
Bling Bag is a personalised Discovery E-commerce Jewellery Subscription service in India, revolutionising the way today’s modern and busy woman discovers and styles fashion accessories. Our core vision is to help today’s fashion-savvy but extremely busy working women build their accessory-wardrobe with high quality, trendy & affordable jewellery in the most convenient and effortless way.
I believe that today’s woman is extremely stylish but busy in her corporate and family life. As part of our subscription service, we extensively research the accessories trends in the international markets alongside the Indian consumers’ overall styling aspects and the upcoming festive seasons. Based on the research, we curate an exclusive theme-based jewellery collection for the month, covering statement as well as minimal pieces from monochromes to colorful ensembles. We believe that “One style doesn’t suit all” and so our subscriptions are personalised for each of our subscribers.
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When did you start up? What inspired you?
Entrepreneurship was always on my mind – thanks to the global exposure I got during my GMBA at SP Jain and the entrepreneurship classes, which helped ignite that early spark in me to start something of my own. When you have rock solid support from your partner, taking risks gets relatively easy. Vipin Agrawal, my then GMBA classmate and now Husband, had discovered my passion for entrepreneurship early on, and has constantly pushed me to fulfil my dreams.
My Business Consultant role at Cognizant involved extensive travel to Singapore, London and Dubai. Over 5 years of my stay in these countries gave me an opportunity to closely experience and observe the way people style and get dressed for work and parties. My common observation across countries was how women added beautiful accessories in their fashion routine, which gave a completely different spin to their style and transformed their overall look. While the Indian fashion industry has started incorporating and offering a lot of variety in apparels, accessorising these apparels to create unique styles is what was missing with our fashion routine.
This is exactly why Bling Bag was born in February 2015 – to help today’s busy & fashion-conscious woman discover latest fashion jewellery trends and get affordable premium quality jewellery to suit her own unique style preferences and most importantly in the comfort of her home, without having to spend hours searching for them online or running to the malls to hunt for it.
What are the challenges you have faced and how did you solve them?
I launched Bling Bag in my final month of pregnancy and being a Mompreneur has not been an easy journey. I believe my twins – one being Bling Bag and other being my 3-year-old son – require my equal attention for their right growth. With my strong passion, determination and extremely supportive husband and professional house-help, I manage to do justice to both with no compromises.
When we launched back in 2015, the concept of Discovery Subscription Ecommerce was very new in the Indian market. Explaining the concept of subscriptions to people was very challenging. Subscriptions being discovery and surprise driven, our biggest challenge was to make our customers trust us and fall in love with our collection and items we handpick for them. Our strong research of the trends and unique collection every month with carefully picked pieces for each subscriber to ensure it closely matches their style has helped us win their trust.
Building a team without being externally funded and with the right set of people has been extremely difficult since day one. I still remember those early days when I used to take breaks from my feeding my new born baby and utilize the time to pack the boxes for the customers. I strongly believe that “Team is the biggest asset” the right team can make or break the deal. Each one of us go beyond our regular responsibilities and carry out multiple roles to ensure we cover the ground despite lesser people.
How has SP Jain helped you in your entrepreneural vision?
My GMBA at SP Jain was life-changing. It gave me immense global exposure and broadened my horizons to give me an opportunity to re-think about what I want to do in life. I got placed in Cognizant through SP Jain campus placements. While entrepreneurship was on my mind, I did not know what would I venture into. My global exposure is what helped me analyse the gap in the Indian markets in the fashion accessories space and build up Bling Bag.
What advice do you have to give to SP Jain current students aspiring to run a start-up?
Take the plunge! With high risks come high returns. Most of us millenials have a hidden entrepreneural dream in our minds, but fear to take the plunge to fulfill that dream due to societal pressure and financial insecurity. Agreed, the financial freedom will be compromised if you are starting up, but one fails to account for the rich experience that a start-up gives you. Even if you fail to do well at your startup, the experience you have gathered will help get you a double paying job! If need be, there is always a way back to the 9 to 6 corporate world, but if you do not start today, the world will fail to see a successful company which you could have created in the near future.
Secondly, it’s never too late to start! If you still have an idea which you think can change something, try it. I started Bling Bag 8 years after I graduated from SP Jain. While entrepreneurship was always on the back of my mind, I wanted to have a good corporate experience which helps a lot in people management and risk management at your start up. The right time to start up is when you are ready for it!
Click here to read more from our alumni.