Grow your plants in beautifully recycled matkas from Buttey Matka

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Age is really just a number when you are passionate and clear about what you want to do. Poonam and Sudikhsya, 4th year agriculture students saw opportunity in a dustbin which led them to establish Buttey Matka, an eco-friendly, upcycled brand that sells customized pots with plants.
Aren’t they an inspiration for all young aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Read our conversation with these two young entrepreneurs to know more about these plants and their venture!

buttey-matka

1. How did the concept of Buttey Matka ideate?
Poonam: During our 3rd semester, we visited “The Sunflower Nursery” where we saw Mr. Suman Maharjan, BBA student handling the entire business of flowers which really amused us. Then after almost a year, Sudikshya and I approached him to learn about propagation and he along with his team was really supportive. They taught us how to propagate and nurture plants while also allowing us to do some small experiments of our own. It was that nursery where we first learned the word “succulent” and we were naturally drawn towards it.
And, the idea of using matka struck our mind when we were leisurely strolling around Patan Durbar Square where we saw Kulfi matkas in dustbins. We collected a few matkas and brought it home.
It was at a college competition where we presented our first raw form of butteymatka as a winning present. It was just plain matka with a plant. I approached Sudikshya to add colours and designs as she has more knowledge on color combinations and art. We began sharing designs and painting matkas and giving it as a token of love at college programs. Our friends really took interest in our work and pushed us to do it as a business. Hence, we started Buttey Matka by opening an instagram page and that’s how this journey began.

2. As a start-up, what were some of the major challenges for you?
Sudikshya: The first challenge I would say was finding the succulents at an affordable price. Initially when we started out we had limited knowledge about everything, we did not know the standard price and the right place to find them. So, handing that was a challenge.
Similarly, finding the matkas was another huge challenge. We used to collect matkas from Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu Durbar Square but that did not work after we started having more demand. Now we have settled with chiya adda for the supply of matkas.
Likewise, both of us are students and managing time for studies and our venture becomes tough, especially when we have huge orders. 

3. Where do you get your matkas? Are you using only up-cycled ones or are there other sources for matkas?
Poonam: At first, we collected used matkas from the dustbins in Patan and Bhaktapur that did not work in the long run, so we shifted to Chiya Adda. Owners of the adda, store the used matka one day prior and give it to us.
Apart from this, some customers want different shapes and sizes for their pots. So, although our motto is to use up-cycled matkas, we’ve been ordering matkas from Bhaktapur to cater our clients’ requirements. 

4. Did you start this venture with the motive of selling customized products from the very beginning?
Sudikshya: Actually no. We started off by painting the matkas by ourselves, looking on the internet for the designs. But, one of our friends asked us to make a customized matka with a F.R.I.E.N.D.S series themed design and our customers also loved that. And since then we have a lot of orders for customized matkas with pictures of Doraemon, monkeys, pizza and all. And based on the customers’ preferences we went for customization. \

5. How have you been maintaining the inventories for the plants?
Poonam: When we get the order, we send the pictures to the nurseries in Godawari, to check whether that particular plant is available or not. Based on that we cater our customers. Likewise, we have also been buying the plants in bulk and storing them in a small nursery of our own at Sudikshya’s place. We have also been propagating some plants ourselves. Also, our main and highly demanded plant is succulents which does not require high maintenance, so we are able to easily store them and maintain the inventory. 

6. Having an agriculture background, do you give tips to your customers on the maintenance of plants?
Yes, of course. While delivering or handing over the products to the customers, we make sure that we provide them with basic instructions like not to keep the plant in direct sunlight, in a dark place, water them twice a week and so on. And even after this, if they face any problem, we ask them to reach out to us directly via Instagram. 

7. Who is your target market?
We did not initially think about this, we were just going with the flow.But now, after a few months of operation, we consider youngsters and students as our target market. Majority of our matkas are bought by the students. In addition to this, we are also looking forward to supplying our products to hotels and eco-cafe to broaden out the market. But, it has been on hold due to the lockdown.

8. Apart from mud matkas, there are many products that can be used as a vase. What is your thought regarding this?
We have actually tried using coconut shells as pots but that was not feasible as it was very tough to cut the shell on equal halves, even for the professional coconut sellers. So, we dropped that idea. Then we moved on using bamboo which was also not feasible because of availability issues.
Apart from these, we planned on making pots using plastic and cement but that did not align with Buttey Matka and our values, it did not seem ethical to us, so we dropped that idea too. So, yes we are open to other products but those products need to align with what we are advocating for. 

9. What are the future plans for “Buttey Matka”?
We are planning to bring in more varieties of pots and plants for customization purposes.  Also, we don’t have a workplace for Buttey Matka itself, so we are planning to have one, where we can keep a lot of plants to make it easy for our customers to choose from. We have also been in contact with Asian paints to sponsor us the paint for the pots, which has been halted due to the lockdown, so we will be working on that. And,  if favourable, we also want to associate with a non-profit organization where we want to give our pots and certain donations. 

10. Any unique customer experience you’d want to share?
The Doers Nepal recently bought our pot to give to their guest. That we would say was a unique experience for us as it was the first time a company actually got our product. We designed a customized Matka for them and they really appreciated us and also promoted us, which felt really good. Their happy and satisfied faces were really encouraging for us.

11. How has your journey been so far as a social entrepreneur?
Poonam: It has been a journey full of varying emotions. There were times, it was tiring due to hectic schedules, there have been times when we learned a completely unknown aspect regarding plants and even the business. Moreover, this journey has been a fun one with a lot of room for improvements. 

Sudikshya: Yes, this has been a journey full of learnings. We have also been able to know ourselves better.  I have learned a lot from the journey. Previously, we did not consider ourselves to be good at painting but now, we are at the stage where we think everything is possible. I have learned an important life lesson that if you do something with full dedication, the end result is always a good one. 

12. Is there any other information you’d want to share with us?
Poonam: I would like to say that opportunities are everywhere, we found ours in a dustbin. So you don’t have to do something or look for something big. Take a small step, do your part, just make sure you work on it, research it and give your 100% to it.

Sudikshya: Do what you want to do and don’ t always go looking for an opportunity. Your hobby, your passion may be an opportunity for you. Just believe in yourself, take a leap of faith and you will be able to achieve anything. And don’t let people stop you, the ones that laughed at us in the beginning  are now taking inspiration from us.  

Check out their amazing matkas at @butteymatka_

Transcribed by Sujana Joshi
Edited by Trishna Shakya