Have you ever received excellent business advice from a Chachi?
Hemlata Pal, a 54-year-old entrepreneur, also known lovingly by her customers as ‘Chachi’(Hindi for aunt), does not believe that age or time should be a barrier to setting up your dream business, and she is walking the talk with her beautiful small business – Chachi Cross Stitch!
We got in touch with Chachi and her niece aka social media manager Kimi to share her wisdom with the world!
Rediscovering a lost love for cross stitching
It all began when the lockdown was in full swing. Hemlata and her niece were going through her 20+-year-old artworks including paintings and hand embroidered cross stitch pieces. Hemlata’s niece, Kimi noticed her artwork and immediately saw a great opportunity!
“She asked me ‘Chachi, why don’t you start cross stitching again?’ – and hence, the name chachi cross-stitch. On the very same day, she opened an Instagram account for me and uploaded the photos of my old artwork. There has been no looking back since then.” – Hemlata Pal
And that is how Hemlata began to cross-stitch once again.
7 business lessons every entrepreneur can learn from Chachi Cross Stitch
#1 – Start small with orders: Focus on family gifts and work on custom orders
Thanks to her niece, Hemlata began working on new designs right away, mostly inspired by the people and places around her. For example, during the rainy season, she cross-stitched on ‘Barkha Bahar’ with an umbrella, and made hoops for her sister in law’s newly born boy ‘Yug’.
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Soon, the ‘Chachi cross stitch’ business began to grab the attention of micro-influencers. In September, Instagrammer Srishti Tehri gave a shout out to the Chachi cross stitch account on her story and Hemlata began to receive her first round of queries and custom orders from customers!
This gave Hemlata Chachi the confidence every entrepreneur needs to learn, scale, and grow their business!
Creating custom orders and managing orders online
“ I never thought someone would like to buy the ‘Barkha Bahar’ hoop all the way from Kolkata. Soon, we started figuring out pricing, packaging and delivery. Today after 3 months, I have delivered several custom hoop arts across India, made my first personal bank account, took part in online flea market with PFA, had my stall in a 3-day fest in Dehradun, made many new friends on Instagram, and replaced my afternoon sleeping breaks with new exciting projects.” – Hemlata
#2 – Focus and patience will make the final product perfect!
If Chachi could teach all entrepreneurs a lesson with cross-stitching – it is to master the art of focus, patience, and interest in the art itself.
What goes into a cross-stitching piece?
- According to Chachi, with cross-stitching, every stitch is a counted thread embroidery, and so each stitch needs to be in the right position otherwise the final design can go wrong.
- Every custom pattern is first designed on paper and then mapped onto a graph paper.
- It is the graph pattern that is hand embroidered onto an even and open weave fabric like ‘Aida’ or linen in the form of X-shaped (cross) stitches.
#3 – Use customer support to scale business
Fortunately, Hemlata’s customers are aware of the effort that goes behind her orders, and they ensure she is appreciated for it.
“ It is heart-warming to listen to customer stories and to know that my work reminds them of their mother’s or grandmother’s embroidery work. This motivates us to bring back the good old days of cross stitch and would want more people to re-engage with cross-stitch again or any other hobby as I did.” – Hemlata
Thanks to increased customer appreciation, Chachi cross stitch is now introducing a DIY cross stitch kit with all supplies in one box, to help everyone rediscover the age-old love of cross-stitching. The business also wants kids to learn the art of cross stitch, and Chachi is prepping a special kit for them too!
#4 – Learn a new business hack, one stitch at a time
Running a business with a positive outlook takes extra mettle, which comes easy for Chachi cross stitch. How? Every challenge is learning!
Chachi and her team learnt to focus more on sourcing the best materials and creating mindful packaging for all their products. All the orders are dispatched with a little thank you postcard called ‘Chachi ki chitthi’ where Chachi adds a handwritten note in Hindi.
“ However, a challenge I foresee in the future is to be able to embroider in my later years as doing close and detailed work like cross stitch can get straining for the eyes/hands. So, I take small batches in a month and take care of my health as well but I will keep creating till I can 🙂 This also makes me want to start teaching cross stitch too – will soon try some online sessions.” – Hemlata
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#5 – Give credit where it is due
Hemlata refuses to take complete credit for her business becoming a huge hit and passes the torch to her tech-savvy niece Kimi, for helping her set up the business online. In fact, her entire family played a huge role in supporting her small business, from sharing creative ideas to doing a little PR themselves!
“ I would not have imagined all this by myself, it is because of my niece who is always there to help me with everything which I can’t handle myself like procuring materials, handling social media and helping me with making digital patterns. My daughters and I have a small whatsapp group where we discuss and share everything about ‘chachi cross stitch’. My husband also could not resist getting his hands on the hoop and he made some cross stitch bookmarks which were received very well :)” – Hemlata Pal
#6 – Do not be afraid to collaborate with online platforms
Last month, Chachi cross stitch discovered the Instamojo free online store, thanks to an online flea market campaign initiated by Platform for Artists – UNSEEN 4.0. With continued support from both companies’ support teams, Chachi set up a premium online store on Instamojo and began to collect payments online.
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“ Things have become easier for me in terms of putting across my story, products as well as any new updates, thanks to Instamojo and PFA. The whole team is always prompt to help as well as encourage. Vipin (brand partnerships head at Instamojo) even bought bookmarks from us – was very happy to see his name in our order list.” – Hemlata
How did Chachi cross stitch set up her online store? Here’s a quick video to help you set it up
#7 – You are NEVER too old to start your dream business
Chachi cross stitch is raking in the love, customer applause, and orders – and she wants more entrepreneurs to rise, without any restrictions to age, place, or time!
“ After my daughter grew up, I always wanted to start something of my own. Today, at 54, I am at home with time at my hand, loving family members to help and people and platforms to support online. I feel the right time is now and it is never too late to start something new. I still take time our to embroider hoops for myself too!
Bonus – A ‘Chachi ki chitti’ for all entrepreneurs
“ I cherish this side of my business, where I am creating something which will make someone happy and they will keep it in their homes. I enjoy making it for others. We take things as they come, be it a new opportunity or a challenge – and that is how we would like to take Chachi cross stitch forward. One day at a time, pouring my heart in every piece I design and enjoying every bit of the journey. Also, all the people and customers have been so warm and welcoming. They send us such lovely heartwarming messages which make our day. I love it when people call me ‘Chachi’ – ❤️ ab sabki Chachi ho Gayi main.”
If this heartwarming story does not motivate you to follow your dreams, we don’t know what will! Set up your business today, we will help you every way we can!