Setting Up Vedam Herbals (Sarva Vedam)

I had 2 products that I had to sell. A herbal hair oil, and a herbal hair wash powder. They are made in the south of India, and I feel that there is a lot of potential for them because my dad gave away some packets of both to his friends, and they loved it. And we know they really liked the products because they are asking for me, that means that are more people out there who would want to buy such products.

My dad asked me if I could set up a website for this, and if you read the blog post where I previously mentioned this project, I wanted to do more than just that. Deciding the start this venture is one thing, but to actually start it is another. I had a daunting task ahead, I had never done business before, and I was playing the game with my dad’s money, so I don’t want to screw this up. I had a lot of tasks ahead, and I knew executing them was not going to be easy.

Step 1 – The Name

Vedam Herbals

I spent a lot of time in this phase, I might even say wasted a lot of time. I wanted the name to have a meaning, althought that is not something that is mandatory because many big brand names do not have a meaning. But for some reason, I wanted mine to have one, and after spending a few days coming up with names, checking their website domain name availability, social media handles, etc. I settled on Vedam Herbals.

Vedam means knowledge in sanskrit, and since I was dealing with herbal products, the brand name ended with Herbals. I chose Vedam because the products that I would be selling will not be proprietory. They are products that have been used for centuries in India, and their ingredients have been talked about in the texts of Ayurveda

Step 2 – The Website

Vedam Herbals, Sarva Vedam home page

I want to keep startup costs low, because
a) I have zero experience in business
b) My father is investing, and I don’t want to lose money

So I decided not to have any physical location for the products for now. I also didn’t want to sell on e-commerce platforms like Amazon or Flipkart because that requires GST (a sales tax), registration which is an additional expense, and not a requirement for doing business unless I have revenues over a certain amount of money.

Considering these points, I found a website to be a good place to sell from, and I could just start from Instagram and Facebook to keep start-up costs low, but I already have a web hosting plan for some other websites, and adding a new one only costs me the domain name registration which is really low. Also, I know how to make websites, I did have some things to learn because e-commerce websites are different from static webpages, but with so many tutorials on the internet, setting up a store with WordPress was not difficult.

I spent quite some time on the website, constantly changing the look and feel until I was satisfied with the result. It took me about 5 days to set up the payment gateway, which was PayU Money, and about a week to make the website. So far, things were going as expected.

I had clicked some photographs of my products without packaging, they were mediocre, and I wasn’t quite satisfied with them. I decided to set all things up first, after I have the right packaging set up for it.

Step 3 – The Packaging

I wanted to products to look good. Glass bottles give a premium feel to the product and I wanted to do that. My dad wasn’t quite convinced, because he thought it would be impractical, as glass can break, and it would add to our costs not only because glass is more expensive as a material, it is also more expensive to transport.

But I did not want to compromise on the premium feel, and decided to go ahead with glass packaging. I searched the internet for glass bottle manufactures. I saw that quite a few shops were located in Old Delhi, so I went out to there in search of more options. I wandered about for a few hours, but couldn’t find the right place, then I asked at a random shop about the kind of bottles I was looking for. The shopkeeper told me to go to the Union Glass Company, he said if I don’t find what I am looking for there, I wouldn’t find it anywhere else. That was a bold claim, and I wasn’t disappointed upon entering the shop.

I found exactly the kind of bottles I was looking for, and also got more ideas for packaging. I came back to the shop on a saturday with my dad, and got the bottles.

Step 4 – Deciding The Price

I did not price my products the right way. I looked at competitors, saw their prices, and priced my products similarly. I don’t feel that that is the right way to price products. I added a premium because my product had ingredients that most of my competitors don’t, but I still felt that I had more work to do on the pricing.

Since I will only be selling to people I know in the beginning, I decided to work on that later, as I progress.

Step 5 – Stocking Up

The website was coming fine, but how was I going to sell anything if I don’t have anything in hand? I only had products for personal use, more was needed to sell to others. My dad got on the phone, and talked to our supplier to have us products sent for sales. The products were not ready to sell as soon as they arrive, I still had to prepare the oil, mix in ingredients to the hair wash etc. but that was the one step out of the way.

Step 6 – Product Photography

With everything else in place, I had to get the pictures right. I looked up product photography on YouTube, and learnt how to do it on a budget. In case you’re wondering, this is the video I learnt form –

I just stuck up a plain white chart paper, used a table lamp, and borrowed a DSLR from my friend (my camera wasn’t working), and clicked the pictures. I was pleasantly surprised by the pictures, and very happy with the outcome.

Sarva Vedam hair oil

Sarva Vedam hair wash powder

Step 7 – The Launch

Things were in place, and I was ready to start selling. I posted an instagram story about my website, and my dad told his friends about it. The first order online order came soon, from my dad’s school friend, and my school friend placed an order in person.

Vedam Herbals (now Sarva Vedam) was off the ground.

Delivering product to first online customer
Delivering products to the first online customer