Shanmuga Priya began a Facebook group for resellers that has about 70,000 members today, and operates over 10 WhatsApp groups.

This Chennai woman earns Rs 15 lakh monthly selling sarees via an online networkShanmugapriya (centre) with husband and Unique Threads team
Features Human Interest Monday, November 19, 2018 - 18:16

When Shanmuga Priya started Unique Threads in 2014, she did not envision that one day she’d be able to provide livelihood for 2,000 others who would go on to benefit directly from her business.

In just four years, the Chennai-based entrepreneur has been able to build a brand for herself and inspire other women who wanted to work from home.

Unique Threads presently supplies sarees and salwar suits to 2,000 resellers through an online network, the business growing from a very small circle.

A few months after her mother-in-law passed away in 2014, Shanmuga Priya had to quit her corporate job to support her family. She had a three-month-old son who needed care, so she had to think of a way to work from home.

Shanmuga Priya was reminded of the stories she heard from her husband and decided to do what her mother-in-law had done many years ago as a single woman trying to provide for her children.

Shanmugapriya with family

Shanmuga Priya bought 20 sarees and salwar suits and sent pictures to friends and family; all of items were sold within a few days. She was soon encouraged to continue and with the help of communication platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, she was able to gather a community of resellers.

What started with an investment of less than Rs 30,000 is today bringing Shanmuga Priya a monthly income of Rs 1.5 lakh on an average. She tells us that back in 2014, selling sarees on WhatsApp was a very niche market and that it was a measured risk she took. She currently has three part-time workers and five full-time workers to help her.

Shanmuga Priya confides that about 80% of her customers are women, coming from all strata of society. “I’ve got doctors, homemakers, college students and single mothers. This is a business that runs on self-motivation. Some days you might get 10 orders and on others you might not get any. It is important to keep doing it,” says Shanmuga Priya.

Shanmuga Priya, who has great admiration for her mother-in-law, tells us that if she were alive today, she would’ve encouraged her to become a top-ranking HR officer. “I was making Rs 70,000 per month in 2014. My mother-in-law would’ve been proud to see me excel in my job. Nevertheless, I’m sure she would have been proud of what I’ve achieved for myself today,” she adds.

Shanmuga Priya began a Facebook group for resellers which today has about 70,000 members. She also operates over 10 WhatsApp groups, all of which require her constant attention. “It is not that I can work from 9 to 5 and be done with it. At any time during the day, a customer might send messages, ask for pictures, etc. I have a store space on the first floor of my house. I’d have to run up, click pictures and send whenever they ask for it. Like I said, there is a lot of self-motivation needed in this business,” she tells us.

Shanmuga Priya, however, is quite happy that her business can run even without her. “I have come across extremely kind and good people in my life. It is on trust that they sell clothes to me and I carry forward the same trust to my customers as well. Also, I am very happy and proud that I’ve been able to support and empower many women who come to me with their stories,” she finishes.

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