Married by 18; mother by 19; successful HR professional; cleared the Karnataka civil services examination; and now, a successful entrepreneur — Sarith S.S. has donned quite a few hats throughout her life, and pulled each one off with elan. Her story from being a meditation teacher to entrepreneur is something that will certainly leave one enlightened.
“Despite working in the HR industry, I always had that desire to do something of my own.” Saritha had never been a religious person, but was an inquisitive one. “I used to wonder why the silver idol of a god was worshipped and the silver anklet on my foot not,” she recalls. Spirituality brought Saritha closer to herself and gave her the opportunity and time to introspect. “My parents and grandparents were proponents of natural remedies like ayurveda and yoga, so that had an influence as well.” Moreover, Sarith proclaims that the HR job proved to be too tamed and monotonous for her naturally wild and adventurous spirit.
“I leased a small, half-acre farm where I began growing food, and soon opened a little 800 sq, feet retail outlet, Saritha says. It was totally out of curiosity that Saritha began this little experiment of hers of growing organic food. It began when she supplied the produce to her neighbours. The results were favourable. “Organic food was not really well known amongst the community back then, and people could really feel the difference in our produce and the usual market produce.”
The demand for her produce increased, and Saritha approached some of her contacts who helped her source her produce from organic farmers nearby. “There was tremendous demand. By the third month I had broken even and we ballooned from 100 customers to about 2000 customers. I had to start 4 more stores around Bangalore, and we’re also venturing into e-commerce with a full fledged site of ours with over 5000 products.”
Jivan Organics has actually captured a chunk of the market over the year gone by because of covid. If not a general inclination towards organic foods, people have been introduced to them because of a lack of other options. “E-grocery stores had stopped delivering stuff, so it helped us grow.” But the second upsurge has made a little dent in their working.
The Growtherator programme has helped mould Saritha’s perspective on her business’ trajectory. “I always thought that to be successful, I have to have a lot of stores, but our mentors have shifted my focus to e-retail.” The business side of business – the bottom line – was something that Sarith hadn’t paid a lot of attention to in the past. “I didn’t really learn a lot about making profit or loss or anything. So this business has sparked that side as well.” The cohort itself has been a blessing for Saritha, who is selling her products on her batchmates’ platforms as well.
When Saritha began distributing her produce amongst her neighbours, hardly 2 out of 100 people might have known about organic produce. “Now maybe 25% of people know about it, but there’s still a huge gap to fill.” More and more people are moving towards Ayurveda and organic produce, but at a very sluggish pace. This lack of knowledge around the concept of organic food also led to Saritha facing aspersions on her venture. “My husband used to tell me that I’m working as a vegetable seller, and that I wouldn’t make any money selling a product at double the price as compared to a regular vendor.”
But it paid off when Jivan Organics earned a name for itself on the basis of its quality of products. It’s more than just a business for Saritha, and that’s the reason why she goes the extra mile for it. “I’ve converted a few friends into organic farmers. I always connect my customers to organic farmers so they know where their food comes from.” She’s learned that opportunities have to be claimed. “No one would come and help you, you have to do it yourself. I learnt on the job. I have no experience, but I taught myself, and that’s what I’ll advise budding entrepreneurs to do.”