Remember the time when Deepavali sales involved an hour of looking for parking, standstill traffic on a weekend, and a warm, stuffy venue with booths selling similar items?

There’s going to be a beautiful alternative early next month for those looking to do their Deepavali shopping. What can be better than supporting upcoming entrepreneurs in the pleasant suburb of Subang Jaya. The Indian Trail is having its 5th pop up marketplace on the 8th of September at Ruang, Subang Jaya. This time, the event is aptly themed Diwali Dhamaka!

Varnam speaks to the founder of The Indian Trail, Saratha, who talks about how she conceptualised the marketplace, and what her real motivations are.

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The Indian Trail is a pop up marketplace for entrepreneurs of Indian origin

Saratha’s brainchild is Neta Weaves, an online store that focuses on Patur silk sarees, all of which are handloomed. Being based in Australia, she had hoped to conduct an event where she can come together with fellow entrepreneurs to create a brand awareness for their products.

“I really wanted to do the first event in Malaysia. There is a lot of talent out here, and a dedicated platform was needed for them to hawk their wares. I put this up on my page, and a few people contacted me, saying they would like to be a part of this,” And The Indian Trail was born.

The first pop up marketplace was held in January 2018, and this will be their fifth outing

Saratha gathered a group of 12 vendors selling various products. She then single-handedly organised the event venue, decorations and the food for the vendors. “I charged the vendors a very nominal amount, just to cover the expenses.”

“At the first event, our vendors were all Malaysians. There were single mothers, people who had left their day jobs and were trying to promote their business, but just didn’t know how to,” Saratha reminisces.

The organisers don’t make any money our of the event, nor do they want to

Saratha tells us that although things have picked up tremendously since that first event, she remains steadfast about not profiting from the organisation of the marketplace. “Honestly, I am doing this as it is my passion, and I want to help upcoming businesses in Malaysia,”

“I have roped in two vendors from the first event to become a part of the organising committee,” Saratha reveals. “Poornima and Yalini have since joined forces with me to organise all the subsequent events. I am lucky to have found them, as we are all on the same wavelength, and our passions and principles are aligned when it comes to The Indian Trail,”

Saratha, Poornima and Yalini are crystal clear about their motivations when it comes to The Indian Trail. Saratha says, “We are not here to make money. We are just doing for the betterment of our fellow entrepreneurs,”

“On the day of the event, I tell all the vendors that I am the mother and you are all my children, so I’ll make sure you’re well taken care of!” she jokes.

The tight budget leaves no room for marketing and promotion

Saratha and her team shoulder the responsibility of marketing and promotion when it comes to The Indian Trail, “All promotional material is designed by me, because we don’t have the extra cash to spare on that. My background in graphic design and multimedia helps quite a bit!”

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“The vendors need not worry about the promotion of the event, or if the crowd will make up the numbers. We do all the groundwork on our own, even up to things like going to Klang and putting up flyers!”

All vendors must share The Indian Trail’s vision

“We want only like minded people to come on board The Indian Trail,” The event is about entrepreneurs helping each other out, Saratha tells us, “When we begin the promotions, we get every brand to post on their page. That way, if I have my own brand, I will post other brands on my page,”

Saratha says that this has become a point of filtration for The Indian trail, as many people aren’t comfortable reposting other brands on their page. “This is understandable, you can’t have everyone think the same way you do! It just means that they aren’t suited for this platform. The Indian Trail can help you reach out to your target audience, if you like our concept and how we work,”

“The booths in the event space are arranged close to each other. If a vendor is shorthanded on the day, the committee or other vendors will come in and help them sell their products. Even if the vendor needs help with her setup, we are happy to lend a hand,” Saratha says that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the organisers are clear about why they are doing this.

“We expect each vendor to do a little more than just promote their own products,” Saratha tells us. “Of course everyone wants to make a a sale, but there must be the element of helping each other as well. That way, it is a win-win situation, and a bigger win for The Indian Trail,”

There’s no competition on the day of the event

Saratha and her team make sure that there is no repetition of products on the day of the pop up marketplace. “When it comes to sarees, I make sure that each vendor selling sarees sells different weaves, and I do my due diligence to make sure there aren’t any clashes in terms of products,”

“Sometimes there is a possible clash of products being sold, but we always preempt it by talking to both vendors, and asking one of them to change their feature product being sold on the day of the event,” Saratha says that she also makes sure the vendors selling similar items are not placed next to each other. These tiny gestures go a long way, especially for an entrepreneur who is just starting out.

Each round of The Indian Trail will feature different vendors

“There are a few vendors who have done two events with us, and they have gone on to bigger platforms. In those cases, we don’t invite them to join our next pop up marketplace. We open up those slots to newer businesses who need the reach,”

Saratha tells us that for many of these entrepreneurs, The Indian Trail has given them the confidence in their business and they are able to take the next step thanks to the exposure.

From diabetic desserts to personalised umbrellas, The Indian Trail 5.0 has it all

“For the September event, we have 14 vendors, and this includes two entrepreneurs from India. While it may be an added cost for them, they are passionate about the cause and I used my contacts to help them with the logistics,” Saratha reveals.

“This time, we have a multifarious range of products being sold. There is a photographer with a PhD in Engineering, an achar entrepreneur who has ventured into catering, an architect who now makes backdrops out of paper, and other vendors selling sarees, hand block printed T-shirts and umbrellas, modern Indian blouses, ethnic shoes, kids ethnic wear, palazzo pants, saree underskirts, ethnic dresses, men’s ethnic wear, diabetic desserts and even socks!”

Passion over distance

Saratha is raising two children on her own in another continent and yet, she puts in the time and effort to make The Indian Trail a success, five times over. “I have been on my own with no support, so I have dealt with life’s crass ways. Now, it is my turn to help so many others overcome their hurdles and make a name for themselves,”

Saratha, Poornima and Yalini are relentless in their pursuit of promoting up and coming businesses, “This is our passion, and if on that day, we are able to help fellow entrepreneurs, that is pure joy in itself!”

The Indian Trail 5.0 – Diwali Dhamaka will be held on the 8th of September between 10.30 am to 6.00 pm at Ruang, Subang Jaya. For more information on the event, check out their Instagram page here