“My life was never the same after experiencing a bra-fitting session in New York City,” says Arpita Ganesh who started up Buttercups, India’s premier lingerie boutique. It was the year 2008 when buttercups was conceptualized. Prior to this, Arpita had started an ad agency named Quicksilver in Hyderabad with her Husband. “I stayed with Quicksilver for 10 years and then, when I realised we have grown sizably and here was not much for me to do, I decided to find new avenues,” says the serial entrepreneur.“When we started up in 1998, everyone around us thought we were just young, lazy fools who didn’t want to work, but in a year’s’ time, we showed such immense success, that there was nothing but respect for us” “The idea of starting a lingerie company in 2008, that too in a city like Hyderabad, was a bizarre one,” says Arpita. Having a good support system helped her immensely during her journey. We asked her how people reacted to her decision of starting up Buttercups, and she said, “I think if you are serious about what you want to create and build, people mostly don’t dare to question it.”Once the store was up, everyone had nothing but awe and pride in what I had created. The first avataar of Buttercups was a lingerie store that offered Bra Fitting services Buttercups had tied up with international brands like Chantelle and Passionata which helped them make the right fit for women. The shop opened its doors in Jan 2009. Arpita believes that an entrepreneur’s life is about constant challenges. “And when you become a successful entrepreneur that early, you are spoilt. You can never work for anyone again, since you have already become your own master,” says the Osmania University graduate.
Buttercup’s first avatar did not do very well. After suffering huge losses, Arpita decided to shut down the store and move out from the city, and to emerge with a better, bigger plan of launching her own brand. “You live and learn and the learnings from failure are the deepest,” she believes. It took a lot of strength for her to not give up on the idea, but she still had faith. “It is all because I believed and I left no stone unturned in making it happen,” says the hard working lady.“From struggling and living in a hand to mouth situation, we decided to make a new business plan, which took 6-7 months. From starting a crowd funding campaign to create the need, and organising Comedy nights to create awareness, I did everything I could” “And I will mention here that there are a LOT of good people especially in Bangalore, friends and strangers alike, who helped me without wanting anything back, and it is because of all their goodwill and generosity that it all fell into place. And the fact that despite the constant challenges I kept going. It was seeing this total commitment towards Buttercups, and the support that others had shown, that got a few of my friends to angel fund the first fundraise of Buttercups and the rest as they say is history,” adds the founder.Arpita is passionate about what she does. “There is not a single day when I don’t get up and smile at the fact that I have to go to work. In fact, it’s on holidays when I wonder about what I should do with my day. Though I end up coming on most holidays as well!” Arpita confessed. We asked how important her family was in her journey while starting up, and she said, “I don’t have much of a family, my dad passed away a long time ago and I am divorced. But, when I started out Buttercups, my ex-husband was always supportive which helped a lot.” She advises the male family members to be supportive and ask their wife/mother/daughter/sister how their business is going.
“Nothing helps more than knowing someone cares. Sometimes, it’s all that you need to get through a challenge,” she adds. Arpita believes that she is an anomaly. She is a “distance” mom, staying in Bangalore while her daughter stays with her father in Hyderabad. “And while that has been very tough and still is, it was her life that I put before mine, for a struggling entrepreneurs life has no stability,” says Arpita. She believes that good parenting is not being there physically for your children, but letting them know you will be there, no matter what.“My daughter has grown up to be a wonderful girl, with her head on her shoulders and a very deep sense of understanding relationships, as we discuss mine and her father’s openly. She is not insecure or lost, as most children become after a divorce because she has 2 parents who are always there and who are open and honest with her at all times. I believe that is good parenting, where you can have open conversation with your children and teach them acceptance of situations and people,” says the proud mother.
While starting up has its own set of challenges, there are a lot of them which come along the way as well. “The biggest challenge at work is handling people. In my view, the opportunities at the mid/junior level are so large that no one has respect for a job anymore,” she says. The founder believes that no matter how good an environment is, there is a constant demand for more. “Loyalties don’t exist and neither does commitment,” she adds. But she is blessed to have committed and responsible people in the senior management of Buttercups. “In that department, each one is a gem and as committed to Buttercups as I am,” she says happily.
Hardships teach you well. You learn to deal with challenges with strength, learn to not make the same mistakes again and above all, you learn that you are strong enough to fall and get right back up and keep going. Arpita believes that she has grown from a restless, worried individual to a confident and happy problem solver. “I have also learnt how to balance. The work hard, party harder is apt in my case, but “party” here stands for a quiet evening with good friends, more than a loud night out dancing”. For Arpita, balance is important because you get one life to live and you need to make the most of it all.Arpita advises the future womenpreneurs to believe in themselves and their idea. “Don’t start something if you are not as passionate about it !. Also, NEVER give up once you have started. Give it your best and the best will come back to you,” says the passionate entrepreneur.
A full time business analyst and a passionate writer, she is hopelessly attracted to the passionate struggle story that every women entrepreneur has lived today! We possibly couldn’t have had someone better than her to write about women achieving new heights in the startup sector!