From banker to brand ambassador of sustainable living
Up until four years ago, Roli Bhat had a predictable life, a predictable income, and a seat at the table in Citibank. But a news clip about Walmart’s hunt for eco-friendly plate suppliers led to some extensive research that revealed to Roli that there was a huge market in the West for eco-friendly dinnerware. That news clip became the turning point of Roli and her husband T Harsh’s careers and lives! And they haven’t looked back since.
Replacing plastic with disposables
Soon after, the husband-wife duo launched Adaaya Farm in a bid to replace plastic food disposables with a healthier, more sustainable alternative - Compostable Palm Leaf or Areca dinnerware. While the domestic market was reasonably large, Roli and Harsh were keen on exports right from the humble beginnings of Adaaya. "We knew that it was going to be a tough nut to crack, with cold calls across time zones in Asia and the US. It didn’t help that we didn’t personally know distributors and other mediators in foreign markets and conversions took close to two years of back and forth! These challenges kept us up at nights, wondering if our decision to give up their predictable full time jobs and incomes was indeed the right one. But we continued to believe in their instinct and pushed forth," says Roli Bhatt.
Sold-out in 10 days!
Thanks to uncertainties of being a small business in the big, bad world of exports, Roli and Harsh started toying with the idea of signing up for Amazon.com. All they knew about an Amazon export partnership at the time was that Adaaya would have to courier its products to Amazon US and that the company would do the rest. What they did not know was that in about 10 days after they signed up, their products would be sold out in the US!
For the first time in two years, Adaaya was selling its eco-friendly dinnerware directly to consumers in the US and engaging them personally in product development and improvement through reviews and feedback. Roli strongly believes that sales apart, the chance to connect directly with consumers around the world and their direct and constructive feedback are some of the biggest pluses in working with Amazon Exports instead of distributors, retailers, and other mediators in the export business.
Exciting road ahead
Continuous product improvement on the back of direct customer feedback has translated into sound business growth for Adaaya. 15% of the company’s total sales – that is, approximately 500 orders a month – comes from Amazon. Adaaya is now a full-fledged business with 20 employees in its factory, most of whom are women. Roli is already targeting sales worth $2 million in the near- to mid-term future.
Sustainable lifestyles, sustainable job creation, and the highs of being a recognized brand outside the domestic market mark Adaaya’s two amazing years with Amazon. And Roli and Harsh couldn’t be thrilled about it!