Scentora started off as a hobby project where me and Brunda tried different recipes for lip balms and worked out what flavours work and what don't. We sent these to family, friends and gained connections and Instagram followers from there.
All the while, we were trying to expand our reach and our customer base. After about two months of sales online, we came to know about the Third Edition of Farmer's Market hosted by the Farmizen group to be held at Happy Farms, Bannerghatta in Bengaluru. We just registered for it and began prepping our products for the date. We wanted to know how small businesses hold their own in market stalls such as these and we also wanted to get the experience of selling to new, unfamiliar customers first-hand.
So, first I simply have to explain what goes on behind the scenes during the prep and sales for a stall.
THE PREP - THE ORDERED CHAOS
The prep itself went smooth enough. We decided on the count and variety of products each to make and made them a few days prior to the event.
You can insert here debates and discussions about the texture of the lip balms, the exact level that each one should have, the flavours each person makes and the number of pouches required. It's always the planning that consumes the most time but that's the process that is also essential, as we have experienced. We settled over the minute things that make up our big picture and we were happy to have made a solid plan.
Both of our mothers made the upcycled pouches that looked both colourful and served their purpose wonderfully. And I gotta tell you just how much our families were involved with helping us:
Brunda's sister helped with the art work, labels and the poster that you see above.
Our moms stitched the pouches for us.
My brother helped with me ideas for labels and in making the products itself.
THE DECOR FOR THE STALL
After the product prep, it was time to focus on the stall decoration; making the labels for the products, making our banner, the descriptions for products and their benefits, usefulness. And we were extremely concerned about using sustainable decorative options and completely avoiding all plastic packaging. So this is what we ended up doing:
Writing descriptions on reused cardboard boxes. These cardboard boxes from old Amazon purchases became our hand-written boards highlighting the ingredients in our products and citing their benefits.
Using an old but sturdy cloth to hand-paint the banner with Scentora on it.
Using coloured paper from scrap books that were already there at home going unused, to make our labels.
Shawls, silicone baking mats acting as our table covers for the stall.
OUR BIG DAY
We started early for our venue to grab a good spot for our stall that had some cover from the sun since we had to be there the whole day. We had done our share of marketing to nudge people to visit us. The venue itself was at a wonderful, serene and secluded farming area close to Bannerghatta National Park. But we were still concerned about how much we would sell and if people will show up.
I remember the both of us joking, "Our goal is to sell two lip balms today. We will sleep peacefully if we sell two."
Well, needless to say, we didn't just sell two lip balms, we sold a whole lot more. And we were so amazed by all the people supporting organic farming and buying organic, sustainable products. The crowd was amazing, the organisers were so helpful, encouraging and at the end of the day we were bone-tired but heart content.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MARKET STALL
The connections we made: We interacted with, bought from and gained knowledge from various other stalls at the venue who are so passionate about what they do and how to do right by the environment. We continue to have good relations with some of the other businesses to this day and we are grateful for their advice to us beginners.
The organiser's effectiveness and enthusiasm: The organiser, Anamika was the main reason for the success of the entire market. She co-ordinated with all the vendors, engaged everyone alike and made everyone feel good. Kudos to her!
Zero amount of waste produced: Towards the end of the market day, children were asked to participate in a game where they collected trash from all stalls in an effort to keep that beautiful farming area clean and also, to promote awareness on much trash we actually produce. And we noticed that our stall had produced absolutely no waste at all since we used reusables with our decor! We were pretty proud of that!
So, that's the story of our first stall, folks. We were so glad we participated in the event!
Written by Ambica Gayathri (Co-Founder of Scentora)