How Vikhuli Bogi started a boutique shop that empowers underprivileged women through participating in the Business Development Center’s entrepreneurial training program
Juvi Boutique shop trains impoverished women in skills needed for employment, giving them hope for the future. The unique products sold in the shop are carefully designed and handmade locally —including jewelry, scarves, handbags, clothing, and home décor.
Vikhuli Bogi, the founder of Juvi boutique, loves creating beautiful, quality jewelry and accessories, but is even more passionate about providing underprivileged women with the skills needed for employment. Having begun this endeavor through NGOs, Viky had an increasing desire to start her own business to provide further opportunities for these ladies. After discovering the BDC Entrepreneurship course at a business conference, Viky decided that this was the right path for her to gain the business skills and confidence needed to move forward with her dreams.
Viky recounts attending the BDC class in 2015, saying that it was “an eye-opening course”. She was especially impressed with the concept of “doing business from the heart”, which is running a business in a way that blesses and helps others, rather than merely focusing on profit and getting ahead. This emphasis helped her see that being a business owner did not have to be at odds with her primary goal of improving the lives of the underprivileged. Viky finally settled on starting a training program and a small boutique shop to sell the products that her apprentices made. She says that the BDC course was “definitely worth it”, and continues to send family members and friends who are interested in starting a business to the BDC for training.
Juvi, (www.juvi.in), meaning ‘beautiful’ in the Naga language, is truly a haven full of beautiful creations for sale. But more than that, the opportunities that Juvi creates bring out the beauty, hope, and potential in women whose lives have been fraught with darkness and lack. Even through Juvi’s logo, Viky seeks to depict the green growth of new life. Many of the girls that Viky works with were unable to finish studies due to family circumstances and poverty, and thus they have no employable skills. Her mission is to equip, encourage, and empower local girls with free training in many areas, including managing the home, basic hospitality, budgeting and finance management, conversational English, and sometimes even basic computer training. Of course, they are also taught tailoring and jewelry-making, thus creating the products that Juvi boutique sells. So far, 117 girls have been trained, and many of them are on their way to better jobs. The going is not always easy, but Viky says that seeing the results make it worth it.
When stepping into the shop, one will find a treasure-trove of unique, hand-made scarves, clothing, various types of handbags, jewelry, bedsheets, cushion covers, tissue box covers, table décor, and much more—all artfully displayed. Viky comes up with ideas for products that no one else is making, uses ethnically Indian fabrics and designs, and works to ensure the quality and durability of her merchandise. She tells her girls that if they make something, they should be satisfied with the quality themselves, and if they are satisfied, 80% of customers will be also.
Viky freely shares that there have been many challenges along the way. Hiring outside instructors has proven expensive, although she would love to hire more tailors who could expand their offerings. Production of handmade products is also a slow process, making it hard to produce at the rate they’d like to sell. And one of the biggest challenges is their current location, which is in a quiet neighborhood rather than a high-traffic shopping area. Eventually, she hopes they will be able to afford space in a much busier area to attract more customers. Despite these challenges, the rewards are great, including hearing from both local and foreign customers who really appreciate their products, and seeing girls equipped to move into other jobs and stand on their own feet.
As far as the future, Viky aims to see the girls she trains replicating this program in their own places and training others. She also desires to continue to improve and expand Juvi’s products and the customer experience, now that she has more time to sit in the shop and assess what is working and not working. And again, one of her biggest desires is to be able to open another boutique outlet in a busier locality soon.
The message that Vikhuli wanted to leave for other prospective entrepreneurs is, “Run your business from the heart, and customers will come back because they like your products and attitude. When we serve people from the heart, it’s a blessing.” Please do stop by Juvi in Kothanur, Bangalore to peruse their beautiful products. And know that with each purchase you will be helping to equip, encourage, and empower girls in need.