Indian Decor and Global Sourcing: Practical perspectives for sustaining business in the long run

Hello ThreeSixty Family,

The past few weeks have been full of challenges and uncertainties for all of us, yet we can choose to see the proverbial glass to be half full, or maybe even three-quarters full. I was honoured to be invited by Messe Frankfurt Trade fairs, India to join the host Mr. Saurabh Fernandes from Messe Frankfurt India and my esteemed co-panellists Ms. Ruma Malik, Founding Member, Buying Agents Association; Ms. Jovita Mascarenhas, Owner, Shady Ideas; and Mr. Saurabh Mangla, Creative Head, Sainik Lifestyle to share our thoughts and experiences with fellow entrepreneurs, brand owners, and industry leaders on what the road ahead has to offer.

A partial recording of the talk is available here: https://bit.ly/2WLKPhf

As the discussion spawned questions beyond business, I thought I will also share these thoughts with you, our extended family, on how we at Three Sixty have looked at these times and also what is the DNA of our brand which you have come to love and trust over the last decade. For brevity, sharing it as bullet points below.

How are we managing our Mindset?

  • Mindset is decided by what we set our minds on. Reset your mind to ‘Day One’. Do not give in to fear.
  • First important thing is knowing that we are not alone, everyone is in this together.
  • The second important thing is getting out of ‘It’s not fair”. Life isn’t fair or unfair. It’s life.
  • List your blessings: mine included my team, my customers, and my extended work family who all continue being with us, as always.

How are we finding opportunities?

  • There is ALWAYS an opportunity out there, we need to find it and we need to be ready for the game.
  • My philosophy has been: Trust your team, be the leader, let your team bring their best game to the table, they will find and build opportunities you never even knew existed.
  • Learn how to use technology, engage your team, reinstate hope, remove fear.

How are we managing the re-opening post Lockdown?

  • If you think of it, our response to a challenge comes down to the nuts and bolts of action taken to respond.
  • At Three Sixty, our first challenge was how to make the ‘downtime’ into our ‘uptime’ – when asked to shut down we were working relentlessly to prepare for flying higher post Lockdown.
  • The second challenge has been to open with a reduced team after the Lockdown.
  • Even though Government allowed 50% team to join back, we opened with 25% first, to ensure team’s safety.
  • We started with setting up new SOPs for a new normal in the workplace.
  • We have ensured that we don’t rush into doing anything, that we are documenting every step, every precaution.

How to manage challenges? (Q&A with participants)

  • Some of our industry friends are facing a shortage of skilled workers as their earlier staff has travelled back to their home towns. How to overcome that?
    • It is the fear mindset playing into making the migrant workers travel back. As manufacturers, we have to first empathise that yes, they have had serious challenges to contend with and that we as an industry could have definitely done better in allaying their concerns. Let’s hope and pray that stability returns to their life at the earliest and that they are safe and healthy.
    • As a manufacturer, if you are short of people in your team, my suggestion is to incentivise your existing team to bring other skilled workers with them. This increases employment and also increases camaraderie in the workforce since people like working with people they know. 
  • How to handle order cancellations?
    • We are facing the same challenge, and everyone is, so you are not alone. 
    • Work with your team, have creatives, designs, offers ready for buyers so you can share with as many people as quickly as you can and don’t have to go back to preparing quotes when needed.
    • Trust that the buyers will come back and look for products again. Be aggressive in effort, but have be patient for results. Don’t put off your existing buyers with repeated emails. They are handling their challenges too. 
  • Advice to Designers and Professionals?
    • Engage with people in your circle such as manufacturers, senior designers, etc.
    • Have a learning mindset. Keep learning. Use this time to sharpen your craft, increase your skill set.
    • Learn newer, better uses for technology and where it can help you.
    • Work on new sets of designs, experiment with new materials, etc. ‘What’s new’ and ‘What’s better”, will have a major role in reviving manufacturing and exports.
    • Availability of a wide variety of materials and designs is a unique trait of India, take advantage of that.

What’s the way forward for businesses?

  • As a brand and business owner, it is important to take regular baby steps to get the business back on track.
  • Focus on keeping the team together. Operate with empathy over efficiency. We are all humans first and in this together.
  • Make In India’s time has come and we, the manufacturers, have to shoulder the responsibility of taking Indian products to the World. This is the darkest dawn before daybreak. Keep your head and spirits high.
  • Opportunities will come, don’t be anxious, always be preparing.
  • Connect, Collaborate, Create – this is an opportunity for every company, every industry, and for every country, none more so than India.

My gratitude to the organisers, co-panelists, and participants for this conversation. It is when many streams and rivers join together, that we all become a big river that nourishes and nurtures cities and civilisations. We have a long way ahead and our collective energy will keep us going. God Bless!

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