They say life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans. This stands cent percent true for Jaipur’s Jai Vardhan Singh. A graduate in English, who wanted to become a lawyer but eventually went on to set up an export house and a backpackers’ hostel, and thanks to the pandemic, is now handcrafting soaps and cosmetics.
Skilled by Chance
When Jai Vardhan went to Harvard in 2014 for a conference at the Harvard Project of International and Asian relations to speak on Security and Diplomacy in South East Asia, little did he know it would eventually inspire him to venture into making natural soaps and cosmetics. “The family that I stayed with on my trip to Harvard had a lady who quit her job at Ernst & Young and got into making natural soaps and cosmetics and she was doing quite well for herself. During the three weeks that I was there, I used to work with her and tried to learn as much as I could. However, I did not put that into use anytime soon”, shares Jai Vardhan.
Entrepreneur at heart
While at Harvard, Jai Vardhan ran out of his money and went to the Times Square in New York and sold paintings that he had taken from Jaipur as gifts. “Selling those paintings at Times Square made me enough money to fund my trip and that gave me the idea of a starting an export house.” In 2017, he, along with his father, started a backpackers’ hostel in C Scheme called ‘The Big Mooch’ (For those of you who have met him, this name would not come as a surprise!). Catering to travellers from across the globe, he and his father managed all the chores on their own. From check-ins and housekeeping to finding missing guests at odd hours, it all came as a great learning experience for them. Come 2020 and just like all other travel and hospitality businesses landed in the soup, their hostel had to be shut down as well.
The entrepreneur bug in him coupled with the extreme problem of dry and itchy skin that his sister and mother were facing finally led him to use the knowledge he had acquired back during his stint at Harvard. “At the end of the first pandemic-induced lockdown, I set out on this soap-making journey using the skills I had learned back in 2014 and finessing it with the practices of Ayurveda. Seeing the results on my mother and sister, who were the obvious guinea pigs, I launched my first batch of products for sale. I had never thought that this would be a full time venture as I was looking forward to re-open the hostel after the lockdown but looking at the response and queries coming for the soaps, I decided to launch my brand – ‘J Natural’ with 11 products in 2020”, shares Jai Vardhan.
Relationship building is at the helm
From manufacturing products as varied as soaps and foot soaks to body butters and ubtans, he also started incorporating the therapeutic mantras of his great grandmother. What’s interesting is that in the age of websites, apps, and micro targeting through the internet, Jai Vardhan lays more emphasis on making customers through one-on-one interactions and relationship building. “While a website is great for the visibility of my business but solely relying on it eliminates my personalized style of building a client and marketing as well as selling the products. Ask him what his ultimate business motto is and he says: “Try to keep everything as simple and natural as possible!”
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