Bootstrapping through a pandemic
We launched Saeyri as an artisanal jewelry brand in October 2020. We started working together in December 2019. A lot happened in the time in between and the year since launch, including a pandemic. And we wanted to share some reflections so far with you all.
So, what are we proud of?
We are really proud to have an adventurous, uninhibited and bold customer base – who are up to big things across diverse fields like law, technology, medicine, government, business, art and design. We love being a medium of artistic expression for these powerful women and the wonderful artisans who make their Saeyri.
What are the top three challenges we've dealt with over the last year?
To sum it up they are: Marketing, Bootstrapping and Navigating uncertainty, as first-time founders through a Pandemic.
- The most effective way for us to reach our audience has been through highly curated in-person markets, which were shut down through our launch. Re-creating the same success with the digital marketing machinery is incredibly expensive when starting up. Thankfully the markets are opening up again and we are going to be on the road doing craft fairs through the rest of the year!
- We are bootstrapped and do a lot of the work that goes into bringing a product to market in-house; that has us investing a lot of time in learning and growing beyond just our design skills, which in turn slows us down.
- Also, as first-time founders, navigating the uncertainties of running a global business through a Pandemic has been challenging.
Knowing what we know now, what would we have done differently when we were first starting out?
We would have focussed on building our community and sharing our story much before the launch, in order to cultivate curiosity in our brand and create engagement. Customer development is arguably as important, if not more than, product development.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how did we build our resolve?
Surround yourself with people who are radically candid with their feedback, can hold you accountable, and are there to cheer you up when you hit rock bottom (which happens pretty often when you are bringing something new into the world). Your community strengthens your resolve beyond what you can imagine alone.
What tool, object, or ritual could we have not lived without in our work day?
We work across two time zones and launched in the middle of a pandemic. We could not have done this without video calls over Whatsapp and collaborative tools like Google Docs and Figma. Also, we could only start, run and grow our business with the amazing tools and support from Shopify. They are mind blowingly good.
Did our culture influence our choices and decisions? If so, how?
We believe our culture is always evolving. We both grew up in India. Jewels were always enmeshed in the culture, festivities, and rituals. And there was so much diversity to be inspired from. Later in our lives, our sensibilities were further influenced by traveling, working and living around the world. We bring this blended and distinct style to our jewelry, and we choose to root it in our Indian origins – through technique, inspiration, story or craft.
What was our biggest overall lesson that we learned in running a business?
Keep a buffer for miscellaneous and unexpected work spilling in the last few weeks before a launch. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small they seem. You’ll never forget them.
We are over the moon that we get to finally meet you all in person at the craft fairs, as things re-open. There is a lot to be grateful for and a lot to look forward to. We are only just getting started!
Manasvi and Rujuta