Her creative outlet

Published On: November 25, 2016 01:02 PM NPT By: Isha Upadhyay

Run by Priyanka Adhikari, a 22-year-old with a degree in engineering, Pibb’s Tiny Gift Store is an Instagram account from where you can order personalized hand-painted mugs. This project started out as a hobby and a creative outlet for her artistic urges, says Priyanka. 

In the six months that she has been in business, she already has over 600 followers on Instagram, many of whom are satisfied customers, and has already carved out a niche in the market for her unique products.  Initially, her mother would pester her to get a “real job” but she was very supportive when she saw that Priyanka had a knack for this business and how much she loved it. Here, Priyanka speaks to Isha Upadhyay about the basics of this one-of-a-kind business.

How did you start working for yourself versus working for somebody else?
Ever since high school, my friends and I would make gifts for each other rather than buying things. A few months back, after finishing college, I tried to make random things out of toilet paper rolls and discarded shampoo bottles. I shared them on social media and my friends really liked them. I even got requests from some to make similar things for them. While I was experimenting with different things, I tried painting on mugs too which didn’t go too bad but I hadn’t considered making it a permanent thing at the time. 

Then one day, somebody I knew on Twitter contacted me saying she wanted to interview me for her blog (zappilily.blogspot.com). I was very surprised but I went ahead with it and she asked if I was considering turning this into a business. My friends has always asked me similar questions but realizing that somebody outside my immediate circle saw that potential in me really validated the idea behind the store in my head. And that’s when I set up an Instagram account, posted all the photos of my previous works and tried to advertise the business. I didn’t think the store would pick up, but it did and it’s been a wonderful journey so far. 

“Pibb” is short for my nickname. While I was brainstorming ideas for a name for the store, I thought I would start with something personal. 

Is it difficult to start and manage a business?  
I believe starting a business is as simple and difficult as believing in your ideas and not losing focus. Six months ago, for me, Pibb gifts was just another DIY project. Back when I first started the store, I had no management skills and it used to be hectic all the time, but now I know how to manage my work hours. It gets a little tough when an event is coming up but still it’s manageable. I get orders for around 15-20 mugs per month and during flea markets the number goes up to 50. Learning how to manage your time is the key here.

During the early days, I made hand-painted t-shirts and pen-holders besides the mugs. I quickly found out that painting t-shirts took a lot of time and it was hard to put a price on it. All the effort it took against the “fair price” that customers wanted just wouldn’t add up. That is why I dropped the idea of the t-shirts and solely focus on mugs now. In business, you have to learn to improvise and change according to the demands, time, and investment.

What is the most challenging part of running your own business? 
Till now, I’m a one-woman army so I have to manage a lot of things. From buying the paints to choosing the mugs, there’s a lot that I need to deal with. Then working with customized designs adds to the challenge. I need to have long discussions over the designs with every customer who orders a hand-painted mug. I need to know exactly what my customers are looking for so that they are happy with the final product. On very rare occasions, I make random designs and put them up for sale.

I use acrylic paint on ceramic mugs since these paints are water soluble in the beginning but become water resistant when they dry out. Even when the design of the mug is fixed, I have to go about it as carefully as I can. I have to work fast in case of mistakes to be able to erase it before it becomes permanent. That’s a tricky bit. 

What do you love the most about running your business through Instagram? 
I love how I get to meet a lot of new and interesting people through Instagram. This social media site has become quite the platform for small to big scale business ventures. Also, you come across people with a lot of creative ideas and it gives a whole new dimension to your understanding of business. Some time into starting this business, I came across a store called omicreative that does something similar abroad. Instagram is like an idea hub and besides that, what I also love is that there are many people who stay back to chat even after picking up their order. Like this I’ve become good friends with quite a few people and that’s all because of the Instagram store. 

Where do you go to for inspiration?
I have always been taught to build a path of my own. Back in school, I used to read a lot of books and listen to all kinds of music but coming across fandom merchandise was very hard. So I went ahead and decided to make my own. Now, every new thing inspires me to make a new mug. When I read a new book and I love how an author portrays a scene, I go ahead with my imagination and paint it on a mug or on the walls of my room. Another huge source of inspiration for me is all the feedback that I get. Even when I feel drained, it manages to make me push through. The look on some customer’s faces when they see their customized mugs is another motivator. Your business itself can be your greatest inspiration.

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