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Believe in Yourself and the world will believe in you!!- The Journey of Mrs. Neeta Adappa

Here's an excerpt from Savitha Hosamane's Book Erupt With Joy that leads you to unlimited inspiration with the story of this ever inspiring woman entrepreneur Mrs Neeta. Read ON! #StayInspiredOnTheGo
Mrs. Neeta Adappa is the Founder of Prakriti Herbals, a Herbal Products company in Bangalore, India

Neeta Adappa Erupt With Joy Excerpt
The beginning

A young girl from Mumbai who got married and moved to Bangalore, Neeta had a Master’s degree in pharmacy and absolutely no inclinations of becoming an entrepreneur.

In those days there were only two options-either you take up a cushy job in a multinational or you had to go abroad for studies – the third option of entrepreneurship never existed. In fact, it was her husband Jayasheel, who insisted that she should start something on her own and extended full support and encouragement. She started to explore options of “starting something”. She recalls that in those days there were very few start-ups and the environment was not very conducive to becoming an entrepreneur. Being a newlywed, one day she was trying out a cosmetic, to which her skin reacted and discolored. The black discoloration took some time to heal. With regular usage of aloe vera, the skin became normal. It occurred to her then, that many people like her are being subjected to harmful cosmetics.

The seeds of ideation for her herbal company started from there. The knowledge gained from subjects like cosmetology, pharmaceutics and the study of herbs in her pharmacy degree helped her to move forward. She and her friend Anisha Desai; her junior in college started with Anne (Anisha and Neeta) Herbals and it went on for a year after which they closed it down and restarted the venture afresh as Prakriti Herbals in 1995. Her friend had to move back to Mumbai in a year and since then, Neeta has nurtured this venture from manufacturing, designing, marketing, accounting, research and development for the past 22 years. Having been featured on BBC worldwide as a successful woman business entrepreneur, the journey of Neeta has many takeaways for every entrepreneur.

The first step and first break

Neeta recalls the beginning of their journey when she and Anisha started in a small garage and took their first baby steps. Meanwhile, Neeta was also pregnant with her first child and wanted to work close to home. They had figured out the products they intended to make. They started targeting beauty parlors initially as they thought they would be their ideal clients. However, at that time, parlors had limited requirements and hence the turnover was not that great. They still continued to reach out to parlors and did not want to give up. They kept trying to explore and reach out to new clients. The husband of one of the parlor owners was an accountant in Hotel Nahar heritage. He mentioned that the hotel was looking for a quality vendor for a toiletry kit and suggested giving it a try. Although they had no idea from where they could source their small bottles for packaging to the hotel industry, nevertheless, they were confident that they would figure it out eventually. From there, the journey of supplying guest amenities to the hotel industry began and they have not looked back in terms of business in the B2B segment.
Neeta Adappa Erupt With Joy Excerpt

One-Stop Solution

Neeta says that their main strength was that they delivered quality products on time. This led to the clients asking them to cater to their other requirements. They eventually became a one-stop solution to their ever-increasing clientele in the 5-star hotels, serviced apartments, corporate guest houses of major IT companies and hospitals pan India. They embarked to be well established in the hospitality sector. The clientele came back with repeat orders, however, the chances of getting direct feedback from the end-user was missing. Some customers reached out to Neeta with positive feedback and they requested her to sell her products in the retail shops. She says that she was very hesitant as people had warned her about the pitfalls of retail sales. Then she was selected for the ISB-GoldmansSach’s 10K women entrepreneurship program, which helped her gain confidence and with the right mentoring, expanded in the retail market from 2010 onwards.

She started addressing customer needs in skincare, haircare in the form of tips on Facebook and through blogs. Customers came back to her and insisted to provide them those products, in spite of her guiding them the procedure of preparing at home. Their main pain area was that they lacked the time to do it themselves. Neeta reveals that this helped her add new products on customer’s requests. Her retail customers were very happy with her products and kept on referring them to their friends & family. An important point Neeta makes here is that she never created products and thrust them on her customers. Instead, she catered to their needs and built a reliable brand. She is on her way to patent some of her exclusive products like the papaya hair mask.

Neeta says it is very fulfilling when her customers provide feedback saying that her products have helped them to address long-standing issues like hair loss, dandruff, baby rash, pigmentation, etc. Instances of customers saying that their confidence has been retained as their issues were taken care of, makes her feel good from within. She says that she never used any kind of paid advertisement. All her natural skincare and hair care products have been tried and tested on real-life people and not on models or animals. They are retailed in 40 retail stores in Bangalore & pan India and also have an online presence on Flipkart, Amazon, etc and internationally on eBay. Her products are in huge demand offshore and have a good fan following in Kenya and the US.

Defining moments

Neeta says that when customers want to take her products abroad, that’s an absolute “Wow” moment for her. She reminisces that when she was young, getting or owning imported items from outside India, it was considered a big treat. But today, when a make in India product, has been specially requested for- it is simply a dream come true for any Indian entrepreneur.

Building relationships

She believes that business is all about building relationships, with suppliers on one end and the customers on the other end. We need to connect with both of them and build credibility. The customer also has to respect our values along with prompt payments. She credits the fact to customers for appreciating them whenever they have traveled the extra mile for them.

Neeta says she deliberately stayed closer to home when both her kids were young and needed her the most. Gradually as they became independent and when she was confident of instilling the right value system in them, she gave more emphasis to the growth of her business. It was a conscious decision, which she took and has no regrets as long as she is happy and contented within. Her parents were also huge support for the kids.

Neeta Adappa Erupt With Joy Excerpt

Integrating Work-life

Neeta says when she is at work, she focuses entirely on her work and at home, she would prefer to give her family all the time. She says she never tried a 50 – 50% concept for work-life. It is always 100% work when in office and 100% of herself at home. Neeta says that women should not carry guilt from office to home or vice-versa as they should recognize the fact that they did the best they could in that situation and need to be more appreciative of themselves. Unlike women, men don’t carry guilt when they go to work.

The flexible hours during emergencies are the biggest boon of being an entrepreneur.

Value views

  • Ensure quality under all circumstances as it builds trust and credibility
  • Being transparent in all transactions
  • Maintain punctuality and keep your word
  • Success is having peace of mind, being happy within and making a difference in somebody’s life
Guidelines for new entrepreneurs

When you believe in an idea, just go ahead with it. Do not over plan but go with the flow. Connect with and Identify what the customer wants and then strive to fulfill their needs. You may not reach success in the first go but be patient & a way will be carved. Be consistent, disciplined and have patience. Work for break-even. Entrepreneurship is driven from inside. Believe in yourself and then the world believes in you. Never ever give up.

Scaling up

Prakriti Herbals' presence in all retail stores globally is what Neeta dreams of achieving in the near future and wishes to leave a legacy of Ayurveda behind.

Be a part of the solution, not the problem!

Neeta feels that in India, we have an issue of stereotyping women and quotes her experience.

“I faced it especially when I started out 23 years ago and remember how a tax official had asked me to get my husband along if I wanted to register as they felt that a woman would not be able to run a business for long.”

I would love to meet that official today and tell him that we didn’t shut shop but are going great guns not only nationally but internationally too!

On the other hand, change does begin at home: I am so proud that my husband (Jayasheel Adappa*), unlike the typical Indian husband stereotype who asks his wife to quit her job, was actually the first to encourage me to start my own business. A lot of people have asked me whether my husband runs my business for me - it’s the other way round now as I help him with digital marketing in his business.

Usually, women give up their careers when they get married or have a child - On the other hand, I Started Prakriti herbals when I was newly married and branched on to the new hospitality vertical when I was carrying - it never got in the way of my work as it gave me the flexibility to balance both sometimes giving family priority and sometimes giving my career more importance.

We have a daughter and a son, but at our home, it was a foregone conclusion that my daughter has first rights on both our businesses.

She, in fact, has worked in both companies but at the end of the day, we are so proud that she wants to start her very own entrepreneurial venture which I am 100% sure she will one day !! I can’t think of a better example of breaking the glass ceiling and the stereotyping of Indian women in society today.

So instead of focusing on the problem and grumbling about it let’s try and be more positive and find a solution to it. Neeta says the focus should be “What is it that we as women entrepreneurs can do to change the way Indian society looks at and treats women”?

  • Hiring more women in our workforce (90% of Prakriti Herbal’s workforce are women)
  • Being a support system for our women employees and accepting them back when they return from a maternity break. (Prakriti Herbals welcome back mothers and women who have taken a long career break)
  • Ensuring that women are treated with respect at your home and workplace
  • Empowering and mentoring your friend, sister, daughter, relatives to be a professional or start a venture on their own.
Neeta loves mentoring young women entrepreneurs and shares her experience to help their business grow. I feel I have been blessed to get so much encouragement and mentoring and owe it to society to give it back!

Let’s beat the system and be the change we want to see!

*Featured as next amazing entrepreneur

While this article is truly inspiring and insightful, the book Erupt With Joy has a lot more content that you cannot miss reading. The book is available both on & for you to grab a copy of your own.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 12th April 2020.

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