Innovative women entrepreneurs in Kochi are retailing their homemade products through cyberspace.

They are smart women with smartphones. They use alerts, updates, SMS, MMS, and on-the-move technology effectively to market products made by them. These Facebook (fb) girls from the city, who buy and sell in cyberspace, have created a buzz with the range of products, from saris to jewellery, cakes, candles and a lot more.

Instant feedback

Divya Jacob, 30, a graduate in English Literature, retails designer saris out of her boutique and store ‘Sudheems’ in Kothamangalam. Her Facebook page ‘Jhanvi’ retails the products in cyberspace. She started marketing her products through ‘Jhanvi’, since April 2012. Divya is married into a family that has been running a textile show room for the past 30 years. “So it was just natural that I should take to this,” she justifies her foray into the business. “The good thing about being online is that you get instant feedback,” she says affirming the trend to be a marketing wonder.

Twenty- seven year-old Lisa Mathews, who lives between “Tirupur and Kochi,” retails baptism sets and room décor for kids. She began her enterprise with her son’s baptism after she put the pictures online in 2012. Her page called ‘Handmade Handmade’ received many “likes” and comments almost immediately. A textile graduate from NID she says she has been receiving orders and enquires ever since she put her products online. She has done a delivery of room décor for a party in Changanassery. Lisa has done six party décor orders so far and is organising the payment gateway to her online facility. Her simple reason to retailing online is that more people get to see the product.

‘Cake Canvas’, from Anna’s kitchen, started by Anna Mathew Vadayat, in 2011, also has a very homely beginning, after she baked a cake for her daughter’s birthday. “I uploaded all the party pictures and began receiving requests and orders to bake a cake,” says Anna who does theme cakes like Noah’s Ark, Baby in Cradle and wedding cakes. She takes orders through email as she has put her ID on to her fb page. Anna is a perfectionist and takes only one order a week as making a theme cake is time consuming. Online retailing’s biggest advantage is the exposure the product and the service receive and hence enquiries, likes and comments come from far and wide. Anna says she had an order for a wedding cake from Palakkad. “I neatly packaged the cake and the client fetched it.” Till now she has baked more than 30 cakes through orders online.

She also shops online for ingredients like imported food colours, baking tools and essences.

Geetu Soman created her fb page, ‘Slice of Heaven’, six months ago. Theme cakes, cup cakes, cake pops and puddings are her forte. She runs this along with her Bangalore-based sister and the two are spreading the sweetness in cyberspace through “tagging friends and getting orders!”

‘Pink Ribbon’ retails saris and handmade jewellery. Meenu Basil, 27, has been operating this site for a year now to good response. Her mother’s boutique ‘Sarangi,’ in Panampilly Nagar, showcases her products too. “I mainly do designer saris. Once I put it up online it gets sold within minutes,” she says happily. She also designs party wear, tussar saris and saris in jute and silk. She couriers the products to customers abroad and receives online payment. Her handmade jewellery too has received a good response.

Valsa Joseph retails jewellery made from polymer clay, a business she has been doing for the past four years. It was only last year that she began an fb page, ‘Tanmaya’ and a website- That changed her business. “I have more than 1,000 likes,” she says adding that polymer clay jewellery is contemporary, chic and unbreakable. She specialises in making ‘jhumkas

Increasing competition

Roopa George, is convinced about the efficacy of fb shopping and firmly believes that established stores too will have to jump into this fray. “All shops should have an online page for survival or they will find it difficult to compete,” she says. The exposure that the World Wide Web affords, she thinks, is the reason for the popularity of this medium. “It is almost infectious. People tag photos of their premium purchases and home-made products, which gets more exposure between friends who share the same tastes.” Many of her friends began such kind of retailing “for a lark” and were surprised to get a response. “Each response is like a pat on the back,” says Roopa who says that cyberspace has given those women who are tied down by home and kitchen a means to rise and shine.