British essayist Logan Pearsall Smith once said, “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” In that case, Natisha Saraogi has found herself the perfect career. The 30-year-old is the woman behind the one-of-a-kind ecommerce store Natty.in, which has created waves in the design community and earned itself a loyal following within a short period of time.
Interestingly, Natisha handles even the tiniest chores involved, from calling up potential vendors and pitching her site to them, to handling social media, writing descriptions for products and even coming up with business plans to help sellers – many of whom are small-time designers or work-from-home moms – reach greater audiences online.
Born in Nepal, where she lived till she was 11, Natisha hails from a family of Indian hoteliers who have been based in Kathmandu since the early 1960s, and now own several hotels including Hyatt properties across Nepal and India, the newest being the swanky Andaz hotel in Delhi’s Aerocity.
She completed her schooling from Mayo College in Ajmer and Dhirubhai Ambani School in Mumbai, and then, at 18, went off for higher education to the University of Pennsylvania. She also studied history at London School of Economics for a year, and briefly considered getting herself an MBA, but then decided she was ‘anti-business school’.
Instead, realizing that there is no better teacher than life, she joined her family business, training in all departments. A few years later, she moved to Bangalore to live with her businessman husband.
With his background in garment export and her attraction to ecommerce, they together toyed with the idea of starting a private label for e-retail within India. She began researching the concept and logistics, but soon realized there were too many pitfalls ahead. Her husband backed out and stuck to his core field.
Natisha, however, was charged up to do something of her own.
Living in Bangalore exposed her to the enthusiastic startup community, and the city’s buzz encouraged her to think out of the box. She came up with the idea of a curated design portal called Natty. It was to be a platform for emerging makers, designers, artists, chefs, craftspersons and social entrepreneurs, to help them widen their reach.
While curating their products, she was careful to bring together form and function, and gave preference to unusual pieces that fell into the category of both art and lifestyle.
She set about inviting people whose work she personally loved – such as makers of a ‘ceramic speaker’ that works on acoustics without batteries. There was lots of dejection involved at first, for who wants to tie up with an unknown brand?
Oh, Natisha could have pulled social status and her family’s network, but she never considered it once. Earnest, driven and grounded, she was determined to do this on her own.
Starting with a team of two, she managed to go live in June 2016 with a database of 30 sellers for her website, working with a business model that costs the vendors nothing, with Natty taking care of logistics, payment gateway and other operational costs. She also conducts pop-up events to give customers a hands-on experience of her quirky wares.
By August this year, Natty had grown to 170 sellers (even after having to delist several because they were housewives without GST!), and Natisha hopes to break even soon. Her team has grown to eight, and she continues to be on the lookout for meaningful products, thoughtfully sourced from all corners of India and the world.
The drudgery doesn’t bother her; it is part of the learning curve that drives Natisha.