Meet the woman in the business of blooms: Nidhi Gupta, Founder, Shades of Spring

Flowers can uplift moods and bring happiness. It might sound like a hackneyed phrase, but it is true nonetheless, especially so for Bengaluru based Nidhi Gupta.

   
Nidhi-Gupta-Shades-of-Spring

Flowers can uplift moods and bring happiness. It might sound like a hackneyed phrase, but it is true nonetheless, especially so for Bengaluru based Nidhi Gupta. Her love for flowers turned her into an enterprise owner from an e-commerce professional. She tells us, it was her visits to the local flower market and her sensing that there was scope for improvements in the supply chain that lead her on her path to entrepreneurship.

Nidhi started Shades of Spring in 2019, with a unique flower subscription service. She confesses that entrepreneurship is tough. And it was platforms such as GAME that support female solopreneurs like her, that came to her aid. Today, her venture Shades of Spring, is known for its ability to provide 500+ varieties of farm fresh flowers to customers. Sourcing the flowers from all over India, they also grow unique varieties of flowers thanks to their partnerships with various flower growers.

In the preceding years, they have served over 5000 customers and feature some of the best floral designers of the country on their team, who create some of the prettiest hand-tied bouquets and other floral decoration pieces catering to a variety of needs. 

Nidhi wishes to make Shades of Spring the number one flower shopping destination in India. She tells us that her company uses recyclable boxes with instructions for consumers so that they can keep the flowers fresh for longer.

In a conversation with SME Futures, she opens up more about her journey from employee to becoming a boss and what’s it like to be in the flower business.

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Edited Excerpts:

What did you want to become as a little girl? Please tell us about your background.

I was born and brought up in Alwar, Rajasthan. I studied engineering and post that I did my master’s in management (MBA). I worked in the e-commerce industry for 5 years prior to becoming an entrepreneur and starting Shades of Spring.

Growing up, I always wanted to and dreamt of representing India in the Olympics in Gymnastics. I had even secured a rank in the Nationals and represented Rajasthan. Those were some awesome times.

Tell us about Shades of Spring and the story behind it? How did you start your entrepreneurial journey?

I would say that my love of flowers has taken me places.

My husband used to give me flowers, but I never really liked their quality or variety. I always wondered why fresh flowers are so expensive, stale and lacking in variety. On my various trips to Europe, I visited the Keukenhof gardens and was inspired by their beauty. Moreover, I always wondered why people keep vases in their homes only to fill them with artificial flowers.

Post moving to Bengaluru after marriage, multiple visits to the city flower market made me understand how the market works. During this time, I found many discrepancies. This intrigued me and I thought I could do something about it. Hence, the idea for ‘Shades of Spring’ was born.

In 2017, I started a subscription service from my apartment to provide my customers with affordable, fresh and a good variety of flowers. I got a great response and Shades of Spring bloomed.

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What were the initial challenges when you started your entrepreneurial journey and how did you cope up?

Initially for a year, I restricted myself to simply experimenting with the idea, as it was a part-time activity after my regular job hours. Managing two jobs at the same time was a challenge for me.

However, I was getting a good response to our floral subscription service. And as the customer response started to grow stronger, I expanded my team. I hired more resources to handle various departments such as sourcing and delivery. Ultimately, this made me realise that I needed to do it full-time, thus I left my job and started working for my own venture full time in 2019.

Our biggest challenge still is the lack of structure in the flower growing and supply business. As the sector is still unorganised in various ways, demand and supply are not properly developed and well planned leading to big mismatches.

Have you ever experienced gender-based stereotyping in the flower business and how did you deal with it?

As I mentioned earlier, I did experience my fair share of challenges. What I have observed is that, in general the flower business is not perceived as a serious business. And often, when a woman is at the helm of one it is categorized as a side business or a hobby rather than something which will be the next e-commerce unicorn.

This was the general attitude of everyone, including my family when I started. But today, I can proudly say that many of those perspectives have changed.

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What is the one thing that is going positively for Indian businesswomen?

The Indian business ecosystem is amazing. We have got an ample amount of amazingly talented people and services available. These people can do almost everything on their own to run a business successfully, like setting up a website, hiring people, or undertaking deliveries of their products and services.

I believe that with all the talent, technology and resources available today, Indian women can think about starting up their own businesses at a small scale, easily. However, I didn’t pay any attention to these resources at first. I focused instead on customer experience, repeat purchases and revenue. Now my business is thriving, and people understand and appreciate my efforts.

The flower business is a traditional business, how do you intend to transform it with your modern aesthetics?

My aim is to be the number 1 flower subscription and gifting business in India. My company currently provides 500+ varieties of farm fresh flowers to its customers and at affordable prices.

I intend to expand my venture to become an e-commerce company with deep integrations into supply chain management with farmers. This will also include growing flowers, quality control and have top floral designers all in one place, handling operations in-house. That means just one-stop for all the operations, unlike the low-quality control model prevailing currently.

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What is the current focus of Shades of Spring and what is the roadmap for the future?

I believe buying flowers should not be restricted to certain occasions; it should be an everyday affair. Our focus is to go deeper into understanding what works for our customers and designing more offerings for them which are relevant to every occasion. We also want to expand to multiple cities soon to get the best variety of affordable flowers to each home.

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What do you think about women’s role in the post-pandemic world?

I believe women have a lot of potential which is still unharnessed. Women are creative, go getters and can do anything and everything.

In a post pandemic world, working from home or any remote location became the new normal which I believe restricted a lot of women from having any professional aspirations. But on the positive side, I believe more women will join the workforce and there will be many more women starting their own business in any big or small way. So, I hope great times lie ahead for all of us.