Ankush Basu, the founder of Maheejaa-an entrepreneur in the making. Maheejaa is a social enterprise specialising in designing pure leather hand bags and accessories with a hint of traditional art in it. And, he says, “when you carry a Maheejaa bag , you actually carry a story with you, a story of hard work and dedication that goes behind making each and every Maheejaa product. The best part is that when you buy a Maheejaa bag, a part of the sale proceeds goes back to the artisan community for their upliftment.” He adds, “I like to think I am a fast learner, learning and growing at each stage yet staying connected to my roots”, while he believes the fact that, “Success is 1% Talent or Passion, the rest 99% is Hard work.”
Lets have Ankush Basu in conversation with us.
1. Could you please tell us a bit about your educational background?
Graduated from National Institute of Fashion Technology with specialization in Fashion & Lifestyle accessories department. I did my schooling from Don Bosco Liluah, Kolkata. I was always an above average student till 10th, but then 11th and 12th happened! I vigoursly trained for IIT JEE and JEE Mains (AIEEE then) but somehow landed up following my dreams in NIFT.
2. When was your first exposure to entrepreneurship? Who were your main early influences?
From 3rd year of my college I began to intern for small start up companies. None of them were paid but I loved doing it because I was learning about the start up ecosystem. I have seen many start up brands who have made their mark in the society. I have seen them grow. Some of my seniors and even batchmates too. I purposefully exposed myself to the start ups and each one of them have been Inspiring !
3. What inspired you to come up with Maheejaa?
Right from my college days I always used to dream of having a brand of my own. My thoughts were always aligned in this direction and I found myself learning about entrepreneurship in every circumstance. Thus, I believe, every part of my journey has inspired me to come up with a Fashion Brand. It sure took a lot of time to finally decide to choose this way of life.
4. What is the reason behind your success?
I woudn’t yet call myself successful. I am still learning and making mistakes at every step. There is a hell lot of journey ahead of me. This is just the beginning.
5. How did you make your first online income? How much time did it take to make money online?
My first income was offline. The first collection of Maheejaa that we made was displayed at an exhibition in Delhi. The response was overwhelming ! We sold almost 90% of our stock clocking a sale of 1.5 lakhs in 10 days. This was the much needed first boost. 1 year later we started our own e comm website. Gradually orders started coming in one after the other, many of them were repeat customers who absolutely loves our products. But most of the revenue for bags is earned offline. People prefer buying bags at the store.
6. How did this act as a turning point in your life?
The first big sale was a much needed boost to carry forward the idea. It gave us the courage to make more of these bags and steadily we(me and my co-founding partner) knew what we had to do.
7. What is the most important, challenging and interesting part of your journey till now?
The most important part as of now was to decide to take this risk of entrepreneurship. The most challenging part was the inner turmoil. The change of lifestyle that is needed to pursue this way of life, is not at all easy. Thus taking this step was quite challenging. The interesting part is the journey itself! I am learning every day and I kind of love it.
8. Please provide a brief overview of your products and services?
Started off as a partnership company in 2016. Presently a Private Limited firm. Maheejaa is a social enterprise specialising in designing pure leather hand bags and accessories with a hint of traditional art in it. Maheejaa combines modern designs with traditional craft Kantha. It promotes this age old Craft in a unique way. It is one of its kind.
We have a bag for every occasion. Our high quality leather with matching Kantha designs makes each product radically distinct. Maheejaa bags are durable and sets a standard in the fashion world. It makes a woman look more beautiful, fashionable, stylish and trendy.
When you carry a Maheejaa bag , you actually carry a story with you, a story of hard work and dedication that goes behind making each and every Maheejaa product. The best part is that when you buy a Maheejaa bag, a part of the sale proceed goes back to the artisan community for their upliftment.
9. What is the main motive behind your entrepreneurship?
I just want to quench my creative thirsts. I believe entrepreneurship is the best way to unleash your creativity because here, you are your own boss !
:10. So you have come across a lot of hurdles to the place where you are today. What were the struggles that you have come across and how have you overcome them? How do you feel today after overcoming them?
Life is full of hurdles, especially when you have a start up ! But every hurdle has something to teach. I fail at many hurdles, but in the process I learn and I make sure I cross it the next time. And I feel such hurdles boost my confidence all the more.
11. Please share a few of your achievements.
Having our own website is a big achievement for me. Getting orders without any paid promotion was unimaginable, but we are doing good. We have been successful in opening two shop-in-shops in two major cities i.e Kolkata and Bangalore. Our bags are available at the Oxford Bookstore, Park Street, Kolkata and at Boithek, Kormangla, Bangalore.
12. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to come up with new entrepreneurship options, for those who would like to choose a path of passion rather than convention?
I would advice before diving into entrepreneurship in haste, take your time to think and explore. Be patient. Make firm decisions. And I believe passion always don’t work. If we are willing to work really hard, day and night, we can achieve anything we want even if its not our passion. Passion might turn into a daily hobby. But the most difficult part itself is tuning our body to work hard ! As the famous quote goes – “ Success is 1% Talent or Passion, the rest 99% is Hard work”.