Our Struggle is Real!
Vaishnavi Hatrote and Supriya Kulkarni, engineering students, introduces Mantilla for the today’s protective generation, turning into the idea to support women empowerment.
Every Indian girl is protective. Protective about their looks and comfort because looks can deceive and comfort can disturb your well being. It takes a couple of efforts to hide behind the costly sunscreens and escape the dust hitting our nose and skin. Knowing the tantrums of what being a girl is, engineering students Vaishnavi Hatrote and Supriya Kulkarni from KLE College of Engineering, Belgaum came up to tackle the problem with their wand of magic.
The dawn of Mantilla…
Like every typical Indian kid, these girls dreamt the same of pursuing their Bachelors of Engineering degree and being called as an Engineer. But somewhere in the back of her mind, Vaishnavi believed that she will one day own what she likes and wished of being called a successful Business Women. Vaishnavi who loves Dancing, writing whom we can consider as multi-talented, is bold and focused, on the other hand, Artistic Supriya has her hands on the art and owns amazing skills in sketching. They never thought of having their career surprise them so early.
When the journey of engineering came up, in reality, it did get the girls into a frenzy of life. Traveling was never a trouble for Vaishnavi as her bike made it easy for her to travel but what hampered was the scorching heat and endurable pollution. Back in summers of 2017, Vaishnavi realized the scarfs which were meant to protect her skin from the harsh conditions no longer worked in any girl‟s favor. Stopping by after 10 minutes to re-tie the scarfs that slipped often was no longer a boon. The tight marks on her skin due to the scarfs were not something which made any girl look pretty. This experience for Vaishnavi was just “Duh!”.
That’s when Vaishnavi started wondering to find girl faced. And that’s when the knowledge of art she had helped her designed something relevant yet very different than the rest. She came up with a scarf that was an idea of the product of ease, good, economical, multiple purposes for today’s youth and with help of Supriya’s mom both the girls worked really hard on the further iteration and that‟s when Mantilla ready-made cotton scarfs came into the picture.
The expected yet unexpected Progress
This simple idea was not as simple as it looked. Supriya was onto the iterations to finally bring the final product „Mantilla‟ to the spotlight. The girls wondered if it helped them, then it will help the rest too and what boosted were the thoughts like- if girls like us can have this scarf, the comfort level for every girl would reach the peak. If every woman who travels can access this, how easy it would be for her to escape the brutal pollution.
If everyone stops worrying about the irritation normal scarfs cause and start wearing the Mantilla handmade cotton scarfs it would make difference adding value to the market. Fighting through the entire “If‟s”, Vaishnavi and Supriya finalized to brand their product into the market.
And it started…
To begin with, it was a big challenge as both the girls did not possess much knowledge in marketing but they did not consider it as bane but as an opportunity to learn something new. To start with, they got great support from their families motivationally and financially. Vaishnavi and Supriya had been a part of Deshpande Foundation’s LEAD Hubbali which has always being a helping hand for the growing entrepreneurs. LEAD helped them in ways which made them believe that this product will be a brand in future. Financially, LEAD and Jai Bharat held their hands and accelerated their speed. Initially, the product was a wonder for many and “Not a big deal‟ for few. But the girls decided to bring their working frame to the limelight and communicate to the audience that this Scarf is a wonder and not any normal piece of cloth.
They started with providing samples to the women they came across in rural areas so that their quality is known. Later when people started using it, the gossips soon reached many. People who used started loving it and suggesting it to rest. Soon the product was brought into an exhibition in Belgaum where the first selling was just of about 10 scarfs.
That wasn’t disappointing to the girls but they believed they can get more of attention soon to their genuine efforts and brilliant product. Approaching people and shops went to be their daily toil. But after many exhibitions and so much effort, days started to change and there came a time when they had to apply to patent their product.
The sales increased, the quality was appreciated and the idea was adding value to market every single day. The girls were practically now the founders of “Mantilla”. The increase in sales gave an idea to Supriya to start working on the Digital marketing of this product. Soon Vaishnavi Hatrote was tagged as Co-Founder & CEO(Mantilla) and Supriya Kulkarni as Co-Founder & Digital Marketing Head(Mantilla).
How is MANTILLA different?
Dust, ruffling sun, pollution etc are prime reasons why women use scarfs. Generally, the traditional scarfs take time and efforts to tie and that is troublesome especially when we are in hurry. These scarfs are made of cotton material which helps in reducing dehydration, Facing immense pollution, dust leading to rashes, pimples etc. The scarf is designed in such a manner that it is easy to wear and also economic for
anyone to use it.
This idea also has been an employment opportunity for few rural women from surrounding regions of Belgaum. A little earning that they fetch from this project makes them feel self-reliant. Finally, the time came when once they hunted people to sell their product, now people started hunting them online and offline in exhibitions to buy Mantilla.
One of their very own customers, Divya Hiremath says, “Scarfs were always a mess until I got Mantilla. The days are gone when the scarfs messed my hair and face because of the sweat they caused. The “hard to bare‟ scarfs no more worries me. Mantilla is so easy to use and cost friendly too. The soft fabrics and materials used to treat my skin gently and I am one amongst the many happy Mantilla customers”.
Mantilla’s call for empowerment!
This was definitely a step towards women empowerment. Starting from one woman working to many, this journey of Mantilla employed many of the unemployed women. The skills they owned helped Mantilla grow at the heights which were not thought. As the orders increased the production also had to. The sales went throughout Karnataka and Maharastra as well. Orders from the places are flooding for more requirement of this wonder. Mantilla has also employed a guy from Belgaum who is providing door to door service throughout Karnataka. The makers of this invention are the examples of womanhood.
One of the proud maker says, “This isn’t just about making money but also turning into self-dependent woman. Every other happening within this small-scale production is helping every woman working more confident and independent”.
Future waits for Mantilla
Vaishnavi says the margin is increasing and so is her hope of coming up with newer products to add up to Mantilla. Soon they will start working on Scarfs for men, products for the construction field workers, for people working in agriculture and many more such customer friendly products. Mantilla is almost at last stages of being a part of Amazon and Flipkart and soon the customers will be happy to get their product online with just a click. The product is available at Vaishnavi marketing located Belgaum too.
When asked about engineering Vaishnavi replied with a focus, “I respect what I am studying. No matter I will be into the business after graduation, I have surely learned a lot from my course and I express my gratitude towards my work, college, parents, LEAD and all helping hands I have with me”.
Supriya also is encouraged by the success of Mantilla. She presumes that this journey has brought many changes within her. She knows she has come out of the shell and now can face the world with no hesitation. This idea is now processed and growing better under the banner of LEADERship Challenge hosted by LEAD. They work passionately as the change makers of the society. Vaishnavi believes that this product is soon to be a hugely successful startup. This startup marks the importance being attentive to the surrounding and also sparing a thought in contributing the best you can.
Written by-Rasika A.Mangale