Harleen & Rajveen Takhar: Catering for a niche market

Name: 

Harleen & Rajveen Takhar.

Role and company: 

Harleen Takhar, Co-Founder & CEO Rajveen Takhar, Co-Founder & Director, Little Putar.

Employee numbers: 

We are an online company so at the moment – it is just the two of us. Sisters are doing it for themselves!

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace: 

Little Putar caters for a niche market and is centred around Punjabi humour, sentiment and traditions. It is an accessible brand which is exemplified by the fact that we have English translations for our non Asian customers. We do not have our finger in the generic pie, it is exclusively for the Punjabi community (although, we do plan on sister sites).

What’s the big vision for your business? 

The genesis of the brand was to plug a gap in the market and create niche products for the Punjabi community. It would be great to be able to expand the range to cover other communities and languages. Interestingly, we have had a lot of interest from non Asian communities in our products. So, to be able to redefine the landscape, so that people felt they could celebrate their British identity alongside their cultural heritage (in a more mainstream way) would be great!

Current level of international business, and future aspirations: 

Our emphasis has currently been on the British Asian market. We source all of our products in the UK because, first and foremost, we have wanted to support our domestic market & the British economy. Though, with a notable Punjabi community, Canada is our next step.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

We wish we had started this business earlier! Lesson learnt? Trust your gut.

What makes you mad in business today? 

The fact that even today most workplaces are not flexible to the needs of a working mother. Many women are forced to choose between their careers and their children.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years? 

The biggest change will definitely revolve around how the market caters for different communities. There is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach. People are beginning to realise that if there is an appetite out there for something which doesn’t exist then they can create it. This will start to bleed into the mainstream.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things? 

With programmes such as The Apprentice (which interestingly Harleen was invited to interview for) and Dragon’s Den there is an increased focus on entrepreneurship. Banks and government alike are encouraging and financing new businesses. However, this focus seems to be directed at young, fresh faced Britons. 

There needs to be more focus on how to financially support those who are new mothers and/or those who are facing a career transition. Currently, the British Asian market is thriving because it is largely constituted of many family funded businesses. This is not always the case for all budding entrepreneurs. Also, our business is internet based and is not as capital heavy as, for example, setting up a shop.

How would others describe your leadership style?

We both have very different working styles but as a team they are quite complementary. Rajveen provides the ‘how’ and offers the vehicles to get things done and Harleen provides the ‘why’.

Harleen’s focus is on the strategic side of the business, yet she can go from the strategic vision to the granular detail within the same sentence. We know Little Putar inside out – some see that as a ‘style’ of leadership but we believe it is a prerequisite.

Your biggest personal extravagance? 

We’re not too extravagant to be honest. It’s not our style.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper: 

We seek to source our products in the UK because we want to support our economy. David Cameron should encourage more businesses to do the same and provide them with incentives for doing so. We need to support local businesses rather than outsourcing for unrealistic prices that local business could never realistically compete with.

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