Leading Women - Stories of Entrepreneurship - Arpita Paliwal

Leading Women: Stories of Entrepreneurship – Arpita Paliwal

When a breakfast with a friend turns into a business, you know that the concept will be unconventional – just like the co-founders!

Maths undergraduate, copywriter, self-taught fashion designer, restaurant stylist – Arpita Paliwal has donned many hats over the years – and all of them very successfully indeed! Blessed with an uncanny ability to find success in untried arenas, even Arpita was surprised with the quick popularity of her latest venture.

One Point Six is a restaurant AND a shop to find the latest fashions! A new concept, the business marries good food with great clothes and, if the profits and customers are anything to go by, it is a marriage made in business heaven!

We chatted with Arpita to understand how it all started! Read on –

Q: So, how did you guys think of this crazy concept!

Arpita: So, the idea came out of nowhere during a random breakfast meeting with my now partner- Shinjini. We had met through a common friend some years ago and had many conversations while I was transitioning from a 13-year-old fashion business to food, and she was stepping away from her acting career into fashion.

We met for breakfast and chatted about how we were thinking our lives would unfold – and there we saw something unchangingly common – an idea of a food and fashion concept. And it just took off from there!

Q: How did it go from idea to a brick and mortar business?

Arpita: Well it almost happened too soon for us to really properly plan the “happening.” From idea to execution, it was all done in under 4 months. Things happened fast, and with God’s grace the right people kept coming in and the team built up perfectly from day 1. We immediately started breaking even!

Q: How is the work done – the designing, the food and everything else in the middle?

Arpita: We both love to cook, and we both love fashion. All the recipes have been developed at home by us, and we work from a standardized, step by step recipe book.

Ditto for the clothes we do our own one-of-a-kind prints (we have a workshop in Jaipur) and design everything ourselves. We also host other designers for accessories and other such items.

We literally stand in the kitchen and take on a lot of cooking work ourselves especially when staff is short.

Q: You launched in June 2017, how has it been so far?

Arpita: After 1 ½ year the dust has settled and looking back, I would say it has been an absolute roller coaster ride – complete with maddening twists and turns. No two days are the same.

After some missteps, we have a better handle on our target group! When we started, we thought it would be attractive to the younger age groups – teens and young adults, but now we have discovered that our most loyal customers are working professionals looking for a healthy place to eat!

Q: Any obvious hurdles or problems you both faced or are still facing in the business?

Arpita: Our biggest challenge, I feel, was promoting the food side of the business. You can display the clothes but how do you also include food? So that took a while, you know, for people to understand that it’s also a restaurant/ café and not just a shop.

Also, early on we decided to add new styles more often because we have lots of repeat customers who walk in every week and they won’t if we don’t have fresh fashion to offer. So, we put out a new style every 3 days, and there are obviously the operational headaches associated with getting garments tailored on time.

Personally, I found the kitchen staff a bit of a challenge because we are such as a small team. And if even one starts acting up, running a kitchen becomes very hectic.

Q: What about being a women entrepreneur? Any struggles specific to being a women business owner?

Arpita: Even though it’s been smooth for us for the most part, time and again we have felt a strange lack of seriousness when it comes to kitchen staff, they just don’t take women seriously.

I think part of it comes from the fact that it’s a male-dominated area of work, and then men don’t take to female authority figures per se. Even with operating hours- being women – its sometimes tricky to open beyond “reasonable” hours- as there’s a wine shop next door – and miscreants are many – needless to say.

And of course, the omnipresent work-home balance becomes tougher with a pre-teen at home, and 24-hour culinary management. People are quick to judge why and how we won’t be as professional because we are also homemakers, and so on!

Q: Any specific learnings from your journey so far?

Arpita: In building the most unconventional brand and concept we both have learnt in our own ways, that there is no real win-win formula. Each day is new, and each day is different. It’s a new run every single time like we never did it before.

Another big learning is that there is no substitute for hard work- a line oft-said, but, believe me, it’s true!

Every single day is as much a challenge as it is fun-filled, and the more we experiment, the better it gets. We never had a background in this field so there was no set formula that we could replicate; the more we did things with our own hands the better we learnt our trade.

Q: Looking back anything you would have liked to do differently?

Arpita: Everything and nothing!

I say that because had we planned the business like we were “supposed to” the place would never have had the quirk it has. We did a lot of things very organically, without planning. People said. “you have no plan, no business model or sales projections.” and you know what I think it worked wonderfully for us.

I am not saying its what every business needs, but we followed our hearts, and it all worked out! There have been no business managers, no social media people- but we have garnered the interest of select few. We have been written about, not because we paid for it but because we went off the beaten track.

Everyone might not end up buying or eating something here, but every single person who walks through that door has always said that the place has enormous positive energy and that’s worth more than money for us!

 

Way to go Arpita and Shinjini! Team SoaringEagles wishes you all the very best. Keep chasing your dreams and inspiring others. 

If you would like to share your entrepreneurial journey, then drop us a quick note or a comment below. We would love to hear from you.