Below is the full transcript of Sakshi Talwar’s Speech at Josh Talks:
“There is no elevator to success one has to take the staircase”, Hi, I’m Sakshi Talwar, Founder of Rugs and Beyond and I’m here to share my entrepreneurial journey thus far and provide six lessons that I have learned during my entrepreneurial journey.
So, let’s begin with when I started rugs and beyond which was way back in 2014. I still remember I was in the US and I moved to New York after I completed my MBA and I was working in a nine-to-five job. It was a great cushy job and while it was wonderful however I felt that there was something missing. I felt that I wanted to do something much more. I felt that I wanted to do something that would create an impact in the society. And a lot of times I questioned myself. I just thought should I leave my job, should I move back to India, and if I move back to India what I am going to do. And at that point of time I still remember I used to visit all these home decor stores and drug stores and I used to see all these made in India products which were being sold for almost three to four times the price.
And at that point of time I felt what about all these Weavers and artisans who are making all these products and that’s when I knew that I wanted to do something to empower these Weavers. However after I quit my job I enrolled myself an interior design course because that’s what I’ve always been inclined towards and after completing an interior design course I moved back to India.
But when I moved back to India I was so lost. I just didn’t know where to begin. I just thought that I know I have this idea, however, how am I gonna implement it. So I contacted all these Weavers. I contacted all the vendors and the idea of rugs and beyond came up. However it wasn’t that easy. You had to trust your instinct and you had to trust your gut. Because we were so we were faced with so many obstacles and so many challenges at that point of time.
So the first important point I’m trying to make here is that trust your instinct and trust your gut. And with that being said there were a lot of naysayers in the society. Everybody thought what is this young girl doing in a male-dominated society, in a male-dominated industry where there only males working. and not just that, there were there was so much background noise and there was so much you know negativity and there were so many people who were saying that who’s gonna buy these products online without touching and feeling it?
But my dad was the biggest motivating factor he told me to not give up. And that is and it is because of him I had that indomitable spirit of never giving up. And I felt that I just have to listen to myself I just have to trust myself and have to be confident and I have to start rugs and beyond which is what I wanted to do.
so I created rugs and beyond and we had all these vendors and weavers who we wanted to empower in rural northern India which was wonderful but at that point of time when we were contacting all these website development companies to create our ecommerce store, we were literally being taken for granted. We were quoted these exorbitant prices and people just wanted to take us for a ride and I just wondered who are all these people, who are all these people who just want to take advantage of us. And I I decided to learn the ropes of the game myself. I enrolled myself at that point of time in digital marketing classes, in website development classes and I just learnt everything and created everything on my own and I didn’t want to rely on anybody because guess what nobody is out there for you.
You are just out there for yourself and you have to do something which will which would be true to yourself and you have to trust your instinct which is so important. And when we created rugs and beyond you know we faced so many obstacles.
For the first six months, guess what we had zero sales. Nobody at that one of time I was so demotivated and I felt that am I doing something wrong, am I doing something right? What do I do? How do we tweak our business model? What do we do? and so many people in the you know in my in my circle were like you know what I don’t think this is working out maybe you should just pack your bags and go back to the US.
And guess what had I done that I probably would not be here talking to you so I didn’t listen to anybody. I ignored everybody and I tweaked a business model and we just got the ball rolling. And when we were hiring people I still remember again we faced a lot of challenges. We were not being able to hire the right people and there was this one person who was working for us, who was not being able to deliver and when we fired him he tried to act smart with us. He had some passwords of our accounts and he tried to tweak the passwords and change the passwords and guess what these people don’t get anyway.
And we were able to recover everything and now of course we were very cautious about everything .so the point here I’m trying to make here is that learn the ropes of your game and take charge and never give up which is so important. and coming to that, in fact when we were starting rugs and beyond, I still remember my dad was the biggest motivating factor and he pushed me to my limits.
And I still remember even in school and college when I would stand third or fourth in class and I would be like dad I’ve come third or fourth, he’d be like that’s great but we’re having to come first and it is because of that which really pushed me to cross my limits and actually feel that you know what everything is possible and the word impossible as you all know also says I’m possible which is so true.
We are three sisters and I’m the youngest and I still remember that my mom used to tell me that after she had two daughters, it is at that point of time you know, when they found out that it that it’s going to be another baby girl. all our relatives were like oh another daughter, you’re not gonna have a son, who’s gonna take care of you know your business who’s gonna take care of your family and why you get yourself about it. This is what my mom was told by all her relatives back then.
At that one of time my mom was very brave and she knew that this is not what she wants to do. actually and there was an inner voice that spoke to her which said that please don’t kill me, I’m going to make you proud and which is why I’m here and I’m talking to all of you.
With that being said you know it’s so important to never stop learning. I strongly believe that education never stops. Education is a lifelong process and this is after I completed my studies I was always you know as a kid involved in theater and something more creative and something that would just infuse my creativity. And in 2014 you know, I just used to keep talking about how I want to take acting classes and how I want to be on theatre and be on stage and everything. And that point of time my dad gave me an ultimatum. he just said if you’re serious about it pack your bags and take acting classes and do something about it and if you’re not gonna do anything about it don’t ever talk about it and that really struck a chord with me. I literally just you know left everything at that point of time and I enrolled myself in acting classes and I was auditioning extensively and I had a wonderful time. I ended up shooting two short films which I was part of in the US and it was a wonderful opportunity. And here what I’m trying to just tell you is that learning never stops.
“ I don’t mind doing you know a course even when I’m 60 years old. I don’t mind being the oldest person in the class because I feel that if I want to do something and if I’m in a room where I’m the smartest person, I’m probably in the wrong room. So learning never stops. That’s what I’m trying to tell you here.”
And this was recently earlier this year when again I was in the US and we had a trade show for our business and I had some free time and at that point of time I just enrolled myself in filmmaking classes because I thought that you know what I like to tell stories I want to do something where I can actually touch the lives of people by telling stories and I didn’t know how to make films so I enrolled myself in filmmaking classes . It was a three-week very intensive program and by the end of it I ended up writing and directing two short films which are now being submitted and shortlisted for film festivals.
And it’s been wonderful and I feel that you know learning never stops. so whether it was me enrolling for interior design classes or digital marketing classes or filmmaking classes you know I just feel that you have to keep going. you cannot stop learning you know sometimes people are full of themselves and they feel that you know what we know everything guess what you don’t you think you know but you really don’t so it’s so important to keep learning and to have that indomitable spirit of never giving up and keep learning and never stop educating yourself . so with that being said I think it’s so important to give back to the society so with rugs and beyond of course we didn’t want to just be another online store making you know money and just counting their profits at the end of the fiscal year, we wanted to do something that is more towards contributing to the society which is why we’re empowering our local weavers and artisans in northern rural India. I still remember a couple of months ago I was in the villages in rural India and you know seeing all these happy faces of children you know going to school and everything, I would just ask them, JAB AAP BADE HONGE TAB AAPKO KYA BANNA HAI? ( What you want to become when you grow up?)
And it was so amazing to see all these kids had so many dreams somebody wanted to become a doctor, a lawyer you know a teacher and it’s so wonderful to empower all these kids. So we’ve introduced a program called “One Rug One Child” where in what we do is that for every product sold, we partially donate some of our sales to weavers children to uplift them, for their children’s education. which is what we’re doing and I feel that it’s such a fulfilling feeling when you actually do such things when you’re actually thinking that you’re actually not just selling products you’re actually making an impact in the society.
I also would like to conclude that nurture your dreams and never give up at the same time you know make bold decisions and you have an idea and if you’re not going to implement it somebody else will.
And life is too short, if not now, then when? Think about it.
#joshtalks #businesslessons #SakshiTalwar