From a part-time hobby to a fulltime commitment with Good Earth, Anita Lal’s journey from a creative individual to a full-time business person was enriching. Lal, Founder and Creative Director, Good Earth reveals, post marriage, when Anita came to Delhi in 1970, she took up studio-pottery as a hobby. Her interest grew, and she started working with rural potters, to create large garden urns and later sold them at a small shop at the Santushti Shopping Complex in Chanakyapuri, Delhi, that was set up in 1990.
Talking about her early days, Anita says, “In those days, India was a closed community, we were not able access beautiful things. Whenever I went abroad, I saw beautiful things and would wonder why we can’t have them in India. That’s when I started painting a little bit of crockery in my own little place, with one or two other people.” In those days, crockery was very dull and boring in India, so she started introducing colors to it. Anita never realised she was getting into a serious business, her husband indulged and that’s how her journey with Good Earth started.
Talking about her initial struggle, she reiterates, “It was very easy to start, but the problems started when it came to maintaining it. I didn’t even know that we needed a warehouse! I didn’t know what a merchandiser should do. I didn’t know anything!
“At that time, there was no separating line between creativity, business or buying - it was all one, amorphous mass. I was too small to even hire people of any great calibre; so it was just me and a couple of other people -- and we struggled,” she adds.
Lal learned everything about retail the hard way: backwards. But, she was very clear that she would never compromise on either the design or the quality of her product.
“I used to read up, surf the Internet, read books on management -- one step at a time. In a way, I reinvented the wheel. You have to be interested; you have to know what’s going on in the world. As soon as I started understanding the bricks-and-mortar business, the whole business started moving onto the Web. I was again at sea! But fortunately, we have a very capable team to guide us with that,” reminisces Anita.
Now in her role as the creative director, she oversees every aspect of Good Earth from design collections to retail experience, including the fragrances and music that have become hallmarks of the brand.
(This article was first published in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)