Updated: Dec 14, 2020
In one line I think it is the mission to change the world, one cup at a time.
Somewhere in our mind and heart, we were all very keen to put together something that ensures that it is made by us and it is used by many many people whose heart beats for the environment. That’s how harvest came into being. Harvest a as a way of life, a way of life to bring about Indian farms practically to your tables. we actually collect residual crop waste from Indian farmers for example, you are aware that rice is grown in North of India, a lot of husk is left with the farmer after rice is harvested. Similarly, coffee is grown in south of India and huge amount of husk is left in Bangalore and farms around that area. Similarly places like Nagpur has a lot of oranges and orange peels lead to a lot of waste when orange fruits have been extracted and all these crop waste whether its peel whether its husk only way the farmers the farmers know to dispose off so that they clear their field for the next harvest is to burn it and once that crop waste is burned, we all know the only thing it leads to is air pollution. A major source of air pollution in North India is not due to vehicles but due to crop waste burning so this is precisely what led us to create a brand which not only makes designer drinkware but also makes drinkware that is sustainable enough and it feels great every single time you hold it in your hands.
What is Harvest? What is it about?
We launched harvest our latest brand as a lockdown project. We are running a company stallion barware; you can call as a parent company of our sustainability lockdown project harvest- stallion barware and stallion is around 6 years old. It has been making designer unbreakable drinkware which are indeed loved by people who are loyal to Stallion and who keep looking to and newer products. Our team was intending to build together a platform or an offering which is also sustainable at heart. Somewhere in our mind and heart, we were all very keen to put together something that ensures that it is made by us and it is used by many many people whose heart beats for the environment. That’s how harvest came into being. Then our team we call. Harvest a as a way of life, a way of life to bring about Indian farms practically to your tables and how we do that, we actually collect residual crop waste from Indian farmers for example, you are aware that rice is grown in North of India, a lot of husk is left with the farmer after rice is harvested. Similarly, coffee is grown in south of India and huge amount of husk is left in Bangalore and farms around that area. Similarly places like Nagpur has a lot of oranges and orange peels lead to a lot of waste when orange fruits have been extracted and all these crop waste whether its peel whether its husk only way the farmers the farmers know to dispose off so that they clear their field for the next harvest is to burn it and once that crop waste is burned, we all know the only thing it leads to is air pollution. A major source of air pollution in North India is not due to vehicles but due to crop waste burning so this is precisely what led us to create a brand which not only makes designer drinkware but also makes drinkware that is sustainable enough and it feels great every single time you hold it in your hands.
How did you come up with this idea in the first place, taking coffee waste and converting it into cups?
As I shared with you, we have been running Stallion barware for quite some time now and it’s been amazing the kind of feedback and kind of love we have got from Indian Consumers, every single packet that goes out of our Stallion barware factory has written on it Made in India proudly and by and by as much pride we take in making it we started realizing that consumers are taking pride in using them like
“Oh Wow! I got the set of drinkware that Made in India proudly”. So, while we are at it and we continue work on Stallion, somewhere in the back of our mind we also wanted to continue doing some R&D where the material is also made in India where we also solve a problem while making drinkware that is designer, drinkware that is functional, drinkware that is fashionable but how about drinkware that is sustainable and this precisely how after a series of lot of RD experiments and lots of thinking about and actually working with lot of prototypes early this year we had few pieces after few trials that looked very rustic and earthy and well that pretty much came about being truly Indian at heart from the raw material to where they were made to where they were being used, it was All within India.
How do you feel about developing a solution, you have been a solution bearer or say basically tuning a challenge into an opportunity? How do you feel about being a contribution?
It definitely feels great. I would call that feeling blessed. Somewhere, I feel a lot of entrepreneurs end up having a lot of Ideas, but they feel oh! I wasn’t at the right place at right time. I didn’t come across at the right set of people somewhere we feel blessed to have come across the right set of farmers who wanted to partner with us, right set of extruders to convert the material for us in a way could mold it, we have a right set up and machinery for having had a background in space, so you know how they say,
“Mein akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil magar
Log judte gaye aur karvaan banta gaya”
How have your vast range experience and skills right from a 21-year-old helped you at Harvest?
Oh, definitely big time We are two partners in this company, Nishit is one of the partners and I am the second partner we both are partners in business and in life, we both started our careers as management consultants in a company, after that Nishit ended up having some years of experience overseas, he went to work in Brazil and few other places. After Mc Kinsey, I ended up choosing to work with Delloite India as a consultant then I had a little complete different spree of writing television shows for different entertainment channels in India. When I look back, I realize that every little thing that we did in our early twenties or late twenties, some of which were experiments some of which did not turn into a career but today we are making a decision or whenever we are doing something as small as a social media post, or coming up with a next product to design, all of those early and late twenties experiences come they together and they help us hugely and immensely in every single thing we do. I can give you a very specific example from writing experience that I had in writing for television, so in television you realize that viewers have a very limited attention span, either you connect with them in the first 10 seconds or they have hundreds of other channel to go to click about and tune off from what you are saying and whenever we are creating a product description or whenever we are writing our social media post and messaging, it kind of help us a lot what is it consumers will like to hear from us, first 10 seconds what is it they should know, next 30 seconds what is the information that would click with them. I probably wouldn’t have this kind of insight had I not taking little detour into writing world and then come back to running a business.
Whatever you can wherever you can, in whichever possible way you can as long as you are doing something, it could as simple as attending art class, it could be something as simple as probably going to a guitar learning lesson, if that is what your heart beats for and that is the best you can do right now, I would encourage every 20 something person out there to go and do it. It is only much later in hindsight when you look back and realize oh here is where this particular experience is coming from and here is how it is adding value to me today.
What was your feeling when you first held the mug made out of husk in your hand?
So, it was pretty amazing, since I am a mom to a three-year-old, I would say the, so the feeling was of seeing your child ready for her first day for school. You see a baby who is now all ready, all set, looking very different from how or she is at home right all dressed up and ready to go a little away from you into the hands of the world and they will have different ways of looking at your baby or your child and that’s precisely how it felt when I held the first cup in my hand.
So, before starting did you have any fears. How do you feel about them now? Because lot of entrepreneurs before they start have lot of fears it might work, it might not work so did you have any of those fears before you started Harvest?
So absolutely yes, I think there is something wrong about an offering if your heart doesn’t pound with fear before it goes out right, it’s not that the whole world thinks about a particular thing in the same way, infact no people think about the same thing in same way right, so we were definitely jittery when we were putting it out there. For one big primary reason that when you look at the harvest range it looks very earthy very rusty and somewhere our insight into the Indian consumer was that most people like very colorful like very bling and bright looking products when it comes to their dinnerware and tableware. We were not sure if this whole simplicity idea of having something which qualifies less is more. You know would that kind of ideology ring a bell with people. right? because the bigger thing here that while these designs, they look nice of course and they feel very good for those who care for the environment. They also look pretty different from the classic traditional kind of drinkware we are used to. So definitely, it was a point that we definitely were unsure of and its only now after having lived lockdown project in through the lockdown months that some beautiful feedback comes our way and are very confident that the harvest way of life will definitely catch on.
Do you think lockdown has added some positive element to harvest?
In a very large way yes because it’s kind of gave us time to pause and think in terms of what a retail customer wants. Right, because somewhere we come from this background of running a factory or a set-up which is more you know commercial and technical in nature. Sometimes it is very difficult to actually look at a product from the eyes of an end consumer. So, you need to actually set back and think how this product will fit into the life of people that live in India and how they perceive it, what kind of packaging will work with them. What kind of messaging will they want with their cup? So definitely lockdown has helped me, and my team actually pause and sit back and think what products the special and eye ears is. If I can say that.
What does Climate Action mean to you?
Climate Change and Climate Action is definitely that needs attention from every single person on this planet. First of all, it means to me changing my view towards it and doing something that I as an individual as Annupriya Nayyar can do towards it. Be it making small changes of let’s say not using plastic bags moving to more bio -based product, trying to know about a product that I am buying whether it is clothes, whether it is day to day products I buy, whether it is food items. To me, it means to care enough so that we actually go to the source of things and incorporate every little change that we can.
If today you ask me where this rice husk is from, which farmer did you procure it from to that level of detail we will be able to tell you. Oh! ok so this particular batch was bought from this particular farmer in this particular field and it landed with us on this particular date and it got turned into XYZ cup. So, I personally feel Climate Action means taking charge of every action that you take in a way that you keep the planet at the center of all your actions.
One piece of advice you would give your younger self
To of course take your goal and vison of what you want in life seriously but to also enjoy the process. Sometimes we just get completely lost in the fact that Oh I want to achieve this, Oh I want to achieve that, Oh I want to get this done, that done and as a result months and years pass by and we just build a life that is extremely stressful so I definitely would like to tell my younger self that hey you are supposed to smile more often, you are supposed to enjoy everything you are doing and not only stress about what lies ahead in future.
So, you would say process is more important than destination.
No absolutely, and it all lies in the journey. What was tomorrow is already today, so you don’t even realize how soon you reach that future that you were visualizing in the past.
One piece of advice you would give to you youth out there
In one line if I have to answer it, I will say in a world full of caterpillars be a butterfly, it pays to be original, it pays to be yourself, definitely you would attract some criticism because your choices would be different. People might call you; you know being somebody who is an outlier or someday who doesn’t conform with the regular ways of doing things but when you grow a lit bit more and you look back, you will be proud of yourself. I would encourage every single person out there to be a student of life! And continue to enjoy life.