Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Beginnings in Saurath

Winter has set here in Saurath, and everywhere I turn, families are shivering and huddling over open fires, drinking copious amounts of chai (even more than usual!) in the hopes of finding some warmth. And I am no exception - I'm now at 4-5 cups a day - this die-hard Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut coffee fan is slowly turning into a chai addict!

As a result of this weather, business has slowed down a bit, giving us some time to focus on developing other critical parts of the model.

For starters, over the past 10 days I have been working with Bhavana to help her fully understand the inventory, the costing behind it, and how to keep a constant track of it. We have also been working on monitoring daily sales and understanding the underlying profitability. And in the process, she is improving her math skills and learning to use the calculator with greater speed and accuracy.

We are also working on enhancing the Rangoli customer experience to give the women of Saurath something new and different from their usual shopping experience. As it's so easy to get engrossed in the day-to-day business activities, I have to keep remembering the larger picture and vision of the model in creating this brand new experience and space for women that's not just about the products sold.

And finally, community mobilization. Word is slowly spreading about Rangoli, but we are working on identifying ways to reach more people, and create a special kind of connection between the store and the female population.

As we try to identify creative ways to do this, I started thinking about some of the U.S. equivalents - the draw that exists between stores like Sephora, Victoria's Secret, Claire's etc. and the female population, often reaching across lines of socioeconomic class, age, etc. The female experience is certainly quite different here, but I can't help but think that there are certain basic elements that exist across geographic borders. Perhaps it really does boil down to the desire to feel "beautiful," and essentially - desired. But I'll keep thinking...  (Time to put on my girly hat - no easy task for this tomboy!)

In the meantime, here are a few pictures out and about in Saurath: