Introducing the heart & mind behind one of my favorite India based home décor brands – ALTROVE.IN. Shreya is one of the sweetest, kindest souls I know and my soul sister when it comes to all things home décor related. We can gush for hours on end about cushions (I kid you not!) She is an entrepreneur through and through and this is just one of the many hats she wears. So happy to have her share some of the things that have helped her on her incredible journey.
S : Tell us a little about yourself, and how this journey began.
Shreya : I graduated from my Master’s hoping to make my way into UI UX design, but because I had almost no experience coding or a portfolio to reflect graphic work, I ended up taking a job in a home textile wholesale house based in New York. I credit my mentor and boss, Nidhi, for teaching me almost everything I know when it comes to home décor style and design. I created products for some of USA’s best and biggest retailers for over 5 years. 95% products we sold came from India and China, and that’s true for almost every brand out there. My family would get so excited about the free samples I brought back and it was ironic because they were from our very own backyard. It made me almost angry to see other countries capitalizing on our culture. I knew almost instantly, that I wanted to sell in India, to Indians and make it accessible, affordable and beautiful.
S : Any road bumps that you hit while being in this field
Shreya : I think the biggest challenge was getting manufacturers, artisans and SMEs to work with me at such a small scale, at the start. Sake of the products we make are so difficult to create for smaller economies. Also, most of these manufacturers would rather work with foreign buyers, because it meant more money or volume. I think the pandemic changed that.
S : Thanks in part to the lockdown, a lot of people are now concentrating on doing up their homes as they are spending the majority of their time there, has it affected you and your business in any way? If yes, could you please share it with us?
Shreya : Its definitely helped us grow much faster than we anticipated. I think everyone’s finally giving their home the attention it deserves. Our lives have slowed down a bit and we’re learning to appreciate the everyday. Whether its a cup of coffee from a hand-thrown mug or staying in on a Friday night in pure linen bedding.
S : Things/Places/People that you draw inspiration from, for your work
Shreya : I think because I studied design while living in USA, that aesthetic definitely works it’s way into everything we do. I look at a lot of brands to build up a visual library of color, texture, style, pairings, etc. I love traditional textiles from some of the older civilizations like Turkey, Morocco, Africa, South East Asia, Africa, Peru and of course India.
S : Along With a very successful small business you also have a very refined aesthetic that is visible through your feed and products. Would you like to share a few pointers on how to go about achieving that
Shreya : Less is more. Luxury is a relative concept. I feel like natural stone floors, a vintage coffee table and a really soft couch is luxury. Whenever you’re thinking of a space, think about its function, a color palette, a key piece of furniture, textile or art, and design around it. Also, your saved pins will tell a lot about you, go back to them everytime you start something new.
S : One thing that you figured out later on in your journey which made you a better entrepreneur that you wish you had known earlier
Shreya : Save money, haha! Sometimes it’s better to think investments through, and not to just follow your gut. And also, your time is money, so save that too! I’m terribly disorganized, and that wastes a lot of time Trying very hard to improve.
S : Any tips on how you use social media to grow your business?
Shreya : Put out content because it means something, not just for the sake of posting. If you get caught in the 1 post a day cycle, you’ll feel the drain very quickly. We also think social media is a great way for people to discover us, so everything we do is from that point of view, as opposed to just selling.
S : What are the biggest obstacles posed to you by the pandemic? In terms of finding time, energy, inspiration and motivation to keep doing what you do?
Shreya : I think there were days I didn’t want to leave my bed and pretend the outside world didn’t exist. Even now, there are days when I feel like everything seems pointless. I think the best way is to let yourself feel that way for a bit, get it out of your system. Through it instead of fighting it. I think because of social media we feel such a pressure to be 10/10 all the time. Its okay not to be!
S :Lastly, one quote that inspires you and has stayed with you over the years!
Shreya : Okay this one is a little weird. Read an article once about Yuppie culture entitlement. We’ve seen way too many overnight billionaires and we feel like we deserve the best, we’re destined for greatness. So the quote said :
“You’re not special. You’re not the exception. You have to work just as hard as anyone else.”
I for one am feeling totally inspired. Thank you so much Shreya for being so candid and sharing your beautiful journey with us. You can follow Altrove HERE to be a part of her journey.