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Jhappi stores: Spreading happiness, Supporting communities

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Born out of the need to give a platform to sell products made by disadvantaged communities, Jhappi today supports over 3000 people through its three stores across plans to spread the goods to 20 stores in the next three to five years

Mumbai: Imagine setting up a retail store with no prior experience in the industry, driven solely by a desire to make a societal impact. That’s exactly what Bhumika Marwaha and Bipin Joshi, the founders of Jhappi, did. With over 40 years of collective work experience, they embarked on a mission to provide a platform for underserved communities to sell their products and earn a dignified livelihood. Jhappi runs 3 stores that sell products made by the underprivileged from personal wear to festive items.

The Genesis

Marwaha and Joshi recognized an unmet need while conversing with NGO founders. Although policies and funds were available to skill unemployed communities, there was a lack of sales channels and marketing support for their products. The duo realized that merely imparting skills wouldn’t suffice, a sustainable market and an income-generating avenue were essential for achieving the intended goal of empowering underserved communities.

This realization birthed the concept of Jhappi, a physical retail store that would showcase quality products and provide a socially conscious experience to buyers, all the while offering sustained support to the makers.

“We wanted to create a store where the makers of these products could receive due recognition. We wanted their identities to be known, and their stories to be shared with customers who purchase their products. This way, buyers can connect on a deeper level, knowing that their purchase is making a direct impact on someone’s life,” said Marwaha explaining the vision behind Jhappi.

The First Store 

On 4 March 2021, amidst the looming fears of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first Jhappi store was inaugurated in Thane, Maharashtra as an experimental venture. The premise was simple yet powerful: by allowing customers to touch and feel the products at a conveniently located experience store, accompanied by inspiring stories of the makers, a strong community of buyers who value social impact would emerge. With the participation of six supplier non-profits and over 100 products on the very first day, Jhappi has been growing. To further strengthen the venture, retail industry expert Jamshed Daboo (former MD of Trent Hypermarket Pvt.  Ltd) joined the team, bringing valuable expertise to aid retail expansion.

“The journey of establishing Jhappi has been remarkable. We owe our success to the Cheliya Community, which played a pivotal role in mentoring us and helping us understand the intricacies of the grocery retail business. Their expertise, combined with our passion for creating a sustainable market for underserved communities, has been the driving force behind Jhappi,” said Joshi.

Collaborative effort

Jhappi has partnered with over 40 NGOs from 12 states, providing a platform for makers to showcase their talent and craftsmanship. The venture has not only witnessed the opening of its second store in Thane but has also proven the viability of its retail franchise model.

With a unique buyer base exceeding 3,000 individuals, Jhappi’s impact is spreading far and wide. Jhappi has supplier non-profits in 10 states- including Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Assam in the east. It has over 30 partnerships.

Speaking about his customers, Joshi said, “Jhappi has served more than 3000 unique customers so far with a very high repeat rate. The average transaction value is Rs 1000 to Rs 1200. Gifting to near and dear ones is picking up as a major reason for customers to visit again and again.”

One of the key aspects that set Jhappi apart is its commitment to highlighting the stories of the makers. This approach creates a meaningful connection between the buyers and the makers, fostering a sense of pride and appreciation for the products.

The Business Model

Jhappi’s margins, which are upwards of 35%, depend on the speed of movement and volumes. These cover the costs associated with running the store in a commercial area. The key differentiator lies in its diverse collection, showcasing products that are not easily accessible elsewhere. In addition to revenue generated from retail operations, Jhappi explores institutional sales opportunities, including corporate gifting.

“At Jhappi we consciously promote remote entrepreneurship. The maker groups in remote geographies have been making great quality products (like crochet toys in Uttarakhand, bamboo products in interiors of Assam) but never had access to a market like Mumbai. The products coming from different corners of the country add to the uniqueness of the product range,” said Joshi.

Product offerings 

The offerings span five categories: personal/home care products, personal wear, home linen/decor, bags and organizers, and seasonal or festive items. Each product adheres to the highest quality standards and many are handcrafted, chemical-free, not tested on animals, and vegan.

Jhappi stores are designed as experience-driven destinations, strategically located in prime commercial retail areas. The stores range from 300 to 500 sq. ft.

Marwaha emphasizes the importance of creating an environment where customers feel at ease to explore the stories behind each product. “We want our stores to be happy places, where customers can discover unique products and the stories of the makers behind them,” she says.

The Challenges 

Overcoming various hurdles, Jhappi has been successful in creating a blend of commercial viability and social impact. The makers of Jhappi products come from diverse backgrounds, including intellectually challenged individuals, those with physical disabilities, and socially disadvantaged communities such as women in distress and transgender people. These makers have chosen to break free from helplessness and create a life of dignity through their craftsmanship.

Jhappi is a bootstrapped organization so far. The founders believe that the model has to be proven well before taking up any external funds.

Expanding the Jhappi Community

With the success of its first two stores, Jhappi aims to expand its presence in Thane and Goa. The venture plans to open additional stores in Thane in the coming year and two more stores in Goa. Moreover, Jhappi is actively seeking like-minded individuals who are driven by purpose and profit to join them as partners in establishing stores in and around Mumbai and Pune.

“Jhappi wishes to prove the Thane model- 2 stores running profitably in a population of two million. We are somewhere between 60-70% of our targets in the first year. We wish to be present in the top 20 cities in the country over the next three to five years. We are looking for city partners,” added Joshi.

Born out of the need to give a platform to sell products made by disadvantaged communities, Jhappi today supports over 3000 people through its three stores across plans to spread the goods to 20 stores in the next three to five years.

Store Details

  • Thane Store 1: Located at Gantali, next to the Ghantali Devi temple, Thane.
  • Thane Store 2: Located at Hiranandani Meadows, Thane.
  • Goa Store: Located inside Club Mahindra Assonnora, Goa.
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