“Oh I’m an animal lover! I simply adore animals, you know” — Very often, you’d have heard people say this or go all awww at the sight of cute animals.
But is being an animal lover just about adoring and sharing cute animal reels on Instagram or petting them?
Well, it takes more than that and Wamika Shekhawat, a 32 old entrepreneur proved this by building Aulive, an animal cruelty-free and ethical alternative to traditional leather.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Bond
Wamika’s love towards nature bloomed right from her childhood days as she grew up in the very lap of mother nature, away from the urban lifestyle.
Surrounded by the beauty of forests, Wamika’s soul always embraced with an appreciation for environmental sustainability and wildlife.
“Growing up as a military kid, I had the opportunity to live in different parts of India and experience diverse cultures and ecosystems.”
As the nature of life continued to swirl its wand, Wamika went ahead to pursue her Master's degree in Business.
Later, she began to work as a corporate employee, relishing the stability and tranquillity of her 9 to 5 job, being completely unaware of her soon to begin entrepreneurship journey.
The Incident That Sparked Entrepreneurship
Yes, little did Wamika know that the love for nature and animals that she had buried within her would soon bring a time when she’d leave the comfort of her corporate job.
And there finally came a day when both her passion towards cruelty-free, sustainable fashion and curiosity towards high-quality vegan leather products, changed things.
“As a teenager, I stumbled upon a YouTube video that exposed the harsh reality of sourcing animal fur.”
With a wrenched heart , Wamika made a conscious decision to opt out of purchasing any product that had animal leather, fur, or any other animal-derived materials.
The Moment of Inspiration
The heart wants it wants.
There would be days when she too would long for leather-alternative bags and garments and get disappointed over the quality/design of limited options in the Indian market.
This made Wamika notice a market gap that needed to be filled.
One fine day when she was looking for classic and cruelty free leather bags that didn't harm animals. By then, she was determined to do something about the existing market gap.
So she ended up researching, came across some bag samples and handcrafted a duffel bag for herself which turned out pretty darn cool.
“We decided to make a few more bags and put them out there for people like me. This was a personal project I thought I’d work on the side.”
The response Wamika got the bags she handcrafted was overwhelming and her side hustle began taking up most of her day. She included a few more products - a laptop bag, a clutch and a tote.
That’s how Aulive was born, with a thought to embrace innovation and strive to be at the forefront of ethical, conscious alternatives without compromising on style and quality.
Forget Traditional Leather. Enter Vegan Leather.
As a conscious fashion brand, Aulive offers classic handcrafted bags and accessories made from cruelty-free faux leather materials and plant-based leather alternatives like pineapple leather, coconut leather, cork etc and recycled fabrics.
“My goal is to provide customers with a viable alternative to traditional leather bags, while also promoting ethical and conscious fashion practices in India.”
What we love the most about Wamika’s conscious fashion brand Aulive is that unlike fast fashion, its production process and materials follow ethical and sustainable practices.
It focuses on providing classic, timeless designs while prioritising environmental conservation by minimising waste and promoting mindful consumption and trade practices.
Fashion At the Cost of Animal Consumerism? No Thanks.
Animal consumerism is a sad reality. More than Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than 1 billion animals and tans their skins and hides.
Thanks to Wamike, people can enjoy fashionable bags and accessories without harming animals.
So if you’re a conscious consumer who’s looking for ethical and innovative alternatives to animal leather products, Aulive is the place.
Aulive is most popular among younger generations who prioritise sustainability and ethical consumption.
Consumers who are environmentally and socially responsible and appreciate the products’ craftsmanship and commitment to fair trade practices and supporting local artisans.
Entrepreneurship Isn’t Always Rainbows and Butterflies
Starting is always the hardest and Wamike still remembers the initial struggle of building customer confidence in trying out her products, and finding the right pricing strategy.
However, from the start, Wamika was committed to investing in the lives of our artisans, through her brand, ensuring that they received above-average salaries.
“This required setting up a backend operation that was fair to our team and customers alike, making it easy for customers to choose Aulive and try our range of cruelty free alternatives.”
Speaking of the initial support for Aulive, Wamika mentioned how her friends and family not only purchased her products, but also promoted them within their own networks.
It is also her business partner, the other half of Aulive, Yashraj V Rathor, has been the driving force behind the operational aspects of Aulive in India.
The Origin of the Term Aulive
Apart from playing a vital role in the success of Aulive brand through his budgeting and problem-solving skills, it is Wamika’s business partner Yashraj who coined the term Aulive in 2017.
“He came up with the name as a combination of "Au," which symbolises gold and exists naturally, and "live," meaning to lead a good life.”
The concept of Aulive is to live a golden life by coexisting peacefully with the wild and being considerate towards the environment.
Aulive Continues to Move Onwards and Upwards
With a small but powerful team of 7 individuals, Aulive has been experiencing a significant amount of traction over time.
Their customer base has been expanding steadily, and the brand has seen a positive increase in word-of-mouth promotion from their loyal customers.
“As we continue to introduce new and innovative products that align with our customers' values and preferences, we remain optimistic about our future growth prospects.”
Wamika, An Entrepreneur Who Only Flies Higher
As someone who always wanted to be a corporate person working 9-5 and quite content with that life, Wamika never thought that someday she’d dip her feet in the wild ocean of entrepreneurship.
It's not easy going back to just being content and Wamika knows this too well. The learning in the field has been immense for her.
She’s built a sense of ownership that allows her to make sure she takes care of her team, makes extra efforts towards a promising future and continues to try out various strategies at every milestone.
“It's challenging, definitely requires more hours, but in the end, far more fulfilling.”
For those starting up, Wamika’s advice is to take a chance and follow your instincts, but also emphasise the importance of having a solid backup plan before diving headfirst into a business venture.
She says that while it’s crucial to trust your intuition, it’s equally important to be prepared to adapt and pivot as needed.
“It's crucial to balance risk-taking with a sense of caution and practicality.”
Moreover, do surround yourself with a strong support system, and don't be afraid to seek guidance and mentorship from others who have been in your shoes.
Spread Your Wings and Be Among #EntrepreneursWhoFlyy
Do you resonate with Wamika’s story? Do you also have such a story? Then we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to share your story. Until then, keep flyying!