We’ve got a brand new edition of #StoriesbyTWW! With Stories, we wanted to put together a series that inspires our community by sharing stories of women entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs that have taken risks, challenges and unexplored paths to get to where they are today. Whether it’s someone just starting off their career or someone who’s looking to change paths, come back to work after a break, or simply learn, we wanted to share these stories to help our community get more perspective from people who’ve actually done it successfully.
In today’s edition, we’re featuring The Style Salad, a gifting company based out of Chennai which was founded by two very enterprising women. Here’s their story.
How did the idea of The Style Salad come about?
The Style Salad was born out of our mutual love for fashion and styling. We were two best friends from school with similar interests who had always dreamt of starting our own business together someday. It helped that we both had a fashion and retail background, too.
We originally wanted to be fashion stylists who curate looks in a box and have them delivered to your doorstep, but after realising that this might not be a lucrative business model in the long run we thought why not curate looks in a box with products instead! India has so many unique and beautiful small brands and businesses that are unheard of and unexplored, so we wanted to be a platform that houses established as well as upcoming brands from across the country.
So we started paying attention to everything that we were receiving to find inspiration. One of the things about living in India is that we are constantly celebrating – weddings, festivals and a number of other events. But the gifts that were a part of these festivities were more or less the same irrespective of the person or organization giving them. That was when we realized that we wanted to be in the gifting space because we could help people bring their own personality and style into their gifts.
Today we put our styling skills to curate and style the perfect gift boxes that people would be thrilled to receive. The Style Salad today is a one stop online gifting boutique that caters to all kinds of gifting needs and occasions. Birthdays, Weddings & Anniversaries, Corporate, Birth announcements, Bridal Showers, or gifting just because!
We call ourselves Style Salad because Style refers to our presentation and packaging and salad refers to our mix of products! We offer a mix of products across beauty, gourmet food, home decor, stationery, fashion & lifestyle.
India has so many unique and beautiful small brands and businesses that are unheard of and unexplored, so we wanted to be a platform that houses established as well as upcoming brands from across the country.Shweta & Saloni, The Style Salad
Take us through what your everyday entails.
The first half of the day is mainly processing and fulfilling all of our website & offline orders. We personally oversee each order our packaging team is processing, to ensure packaging standards have been met before dispatching. We also do coordinating and quality checks for new products that come in, apart from everyday inventory checks and replenishment.
The second half of the day is mostly calls with our suppliers, new vendors and clients. We also do the planning & curating our content for social media, scheduling photoshoots, prepping for the upcoming special days / occasions, brainstorming new marketing ideas/ business plans, working with our corporate clients to bring their requirements to life, and attending to custom offline queries.
To be honest there is no “typical day”. We both wear various hats through the day and everyday there is something new and interesting to look forward to. With constant gifting queries coming in all through the day we have to get our creative juices flowing with every corporate/custom query which is a fun and challenging activity for our entire team.
We personally oversee each order our packaging team is processing, to ensure packaging standards have been met before dispatching.Shweta & Saloni, The Style Salad
What sets The Style Salad apart? How do you curate boxes and what do you think is your biggest differentiator?
At The Style Salad, we believe that the power of a gift should never be underestimated. Gifts are a way of building relationships, showing gratitude, boosting one’s morale and a “pick me up” on the not so great days and saying that you are there for someone or thinking about them even when you can’t physically be there. So for us what goes inside the box is always important, because what we curate and put out there is what you ultimately buy to gift yourself or a loved one and we are indirectly touching another person’s life and putting smiles on their faces.
The Style Salad is not only known for its visually pleasing and beautiful curations but also appreciated by our customers and corporate clients nationwide for our very prompt & on point customer service. Since we pride ourselves to be a one stop gifting solution we make sure there’s something for everyone and every occasion. What sets us apart is that every curation and collaboration is thoughtful and thought through.
Our Pre Packed Gift Box section comprises boxes that we have pre curated around popular themes – But First Coffee, Good Energies, Morning Sunshine, Beach Please ( for summer) , Hustle , Sweet Dreams , Tea Love , Heal, to name a few. The idea behind this was to simplify the gifting process for people who want to give meaningful and thoughtful gifts but don’t have a lot of time to spend or just don’t know what to put together. We launch beautiful new boxes seasonally and based on the upcoming festive season.
Our Toss Up Your Own Section on the other hand features an evolving selection of products across various categories listed individually which gives our customers the luxury of curating a box on their own based on their budget and specific requirements. In case they need any help or are confused about what to put together, we are there to guide them on what we may think will work. Eg – If someone wants to gift something to a friend who has gotten home from the hospital or recovered from a long illness, we would recommend products like our turmeric lattes, immunity boosting teas or mukhwas, a relaxation eye pillow, a gentle smelling candle, a foot soak and a hand cream. A gift like this shows the recipient that the sender not only cares, but has really taken the time out to put together something specially for them. And rest assured that the recipient will love using these gifts!
We take feedback from our customers very seriously. So we’re constantly working on making our website as easy to navigate as possible so they can either pick up one of our pre-packed boxes or build one on their own, quickly and efficiently.
What really makes an impact is the individual products coming together to create a story in a beautiful box with a handwritten note. Whether it’s products that are being put together around a specific theme, or products across various categories that correlate to one another or even if they are just curated around a particular colour palette, we believe our boxes tell you a little story and that is what we would say sets The Style Salad apart.
At the TSS HQ, we love hunting for new and unusual products for their quality, value and beautiful design. We also follow strict quality standards. All products are sampled and tested out before they are launched on our website to make sure that the quality is nothing short of 100%.
What are some of the biggest challenges of running an SMB?
Like all startups we too have had our fair share of challenges. Right from choosing the right platform to launch our website, to setting up SOPs to manage inventory, recruiting the right people on our team, to finding the right vendors for our packaging and finding an accountable logistics partner. Setting up the website was a challenging task. We’ve been tweaking our website from the day we launched, based on our customer feedback to ensure our customers have a smooth shopping experience on the website.
Another challenge specifically relating to us being an e-commerce gifting boutique, would be ensuring that the shipments reach our customers on the specific dates they need their packages. This is not always possible but we try our best to have it get to them on time. Finding the right and reliable logistics partner was hard at first but after many trials & errors we succeeded at finding one.
With digital marketing constantly evolving it is an everyday challenge to reach the right target audience and capture quality leads given the budget constraint with small businesses like ours. It gets difficult to compete with bigger brands with higher advertising budgets.
Another major challenge that we face is with big corporates. While they are our biggest sources of income, most of them have unreasonable expectations from SMB’s like us where they expect us to fulfil a large order by blocking our stock and funds without any advance payment or contract. This puts us in a bind. As much as we are eager to take on every single order we get and not pass up any opportunity, there are times when we are forced to turn down the order because it is not always that banks are forthcoming with timely finances and minimalistic paperwork when it comes to timely support with small companies like ours.
As much as we are eager to take on every single order we get and not pass up any opportunity, there are times when we are forced to turn down the order because it is not always that banks are forthcoming with timely finances and minimalistic paperwork when it comes to timely support with small companies like ours.Shweta & Saloni, The Style Salad
Why did you choose each other to be business partners?
We are best friends from school and always dreamt of starting our own business together someday. After graduation, after we got our first jobs and our second jobs and even though we both worked in different workplaces we continued to dream the teenage dream and still constantly talked about how some day this dream will manifest into reality. And it did! We both come from a retail & fashion background. Coming from similar backgrounds and having the same vision lead us to starting our entrepreneurial journey together. Having had 2 years of work experience in retail merchandising, marketing for both a luxury retail store and an e-commerce fashion store we definitely were in a hurry to be our own bosses. We both decided this was a good enough experience for us to launch The Style Salad! And to our surprise the journey has been nothing short of exciting. We are learning everyday on the job. There have been times when we’ve locked horns with each other, disagreed on so many points, and have had countless discussions where we agreed to disagree, but the one thing that kept us going and growing is our common goal towards The Style Salad and sharing the same views and business values.
We are learning everyday on the job. There have been times when we’ve locked horns with each other, disagreed on so many points, and have had countless discussions where we agreed to disagree, but the one thing that kept us going and growing is our common goal towards The Style Salad and sharing the same views and business values.Shweta & Saloni, The Style Salad
We define a ‘work wife’ as someone that you work with that’s turned a friend (or friends turned colleagues in your case) that has kept you sane, inspired you, seen you at your best and worst and continues to constantly cheer you on. What, in your opinion, is the best thing about having a work wife?
In our case it’s friends turned colleagues. And it’s both great and nerve wracking when your work wife is your best friend! The best part is that you can confide in each other through personal issues as well as professional matters without having to think twice or being judged making us work wives safe sounding boards.
The best thing about having my best friend as my work wife is that she is someone I can trust a 100% . There is also flexibility and reliability. She is there to step in on days I can’t and vice versa. We also have no qualms about calling each other out if and when the need arises and we both choose to take it in the right spirit because only BFF’s can take the liberty to do that without the other getting too offended, because we both know its coming from a good place and that’s the only way we can uplift each other and grow together. I know I have a safety net not just at home but at my place of work too!
We also have no qualms about calling each other out if and when the need arises and we both choose to take it in the right spirit because only BFF’s can take the liberty to do that without the other getting too offended, because we both know its coming from a good place and that’s the only way we can uplift each other and grow together.Shweta & Saloni, The Style Salad
What are your future plans for style salad – exciting things that are coming up, your larger vision for the company?
We are currently experimenting & exploring innovative packaging ideas, exploring more eco-friendly options, and curating limited edition box designs by collaborating with talented creators across India along with launching our own range of products.
We are also hoping to launch a couple of new and exciting verticals on the website when things get better with the pandemic situation. You will just have to keep following us to find out the rest!
And that’s a wrap!
We are so grateful to Shweta & Saloni for sharing with us so many valuable insights on what it takes to run an eCommerce company. And we’re very excited to share that this is only the start! We’ve got a lot of exciting women entrepreneurs & industry leaders lined up for #StoriesbyTWW. If you know someone that you think should be featured here, send us a tip at: theworkwife[dot]in[at]gmail[dot]com.