Darshan Kaur Khalsa, founder of Waggy Zone, the first-ever producers of ice-creams for Dogs. She is also the founder of WAGpreneurs, women entrepreneurs who are also pet-parents.
Darshan’s journey in her own words…
I come from a family that’s been in the business of manufacturing ice-creams, so I have a business background. I joined them as a teenager so the entrepreneurship journey started from there. However, the story behind the Waggy Zone is such that I was originally scared of Dogs. Petrified of them. My then-fiance Kshitij, now my husband, happened to come across a German-Shepherd pup who was just 21 days old and was being abandoned and he wanted to foster her until a good home adopted her. I actually gave him an ultimatum, its either her or me who’s going to stay in the house because I couldn’t stay with a Dog. Kshitij the suggested he’d foster her just for a few days and for those many days I wouldn’t visit his house. One fine day I was passing y his house and he opened the door and a cute Lil ball of fur came running towards me and started pouncing on me, I yelled very loud. Someone just asked me to open my eyes and look at that small fluff who wasn’t doing anything to me. That’s when I fell in love with that pup, her names Myra she’s all grown up now. She is really the inspiration behind Waggy Zone.
KYE: What was your motivation in being an Entrepreneur?
Darshan: I come from a family business and thus, joined my family business pretty soon but slowly realized that I do like the thrill of creating new ideas and being a part of the process from manufacturing to packaging, from logistics to consumer interaction. For quite some time I did feel lost and thought that having a job might be stress-free but then I started with my journey of Energy Healing from YPV and realized that we are all channels to pass on the energy. Similarly, as entrepreneurs, we are the channels to pass and give economical independence to a few and create an environment for people to learn and grow.
KYE: What are the factors that give you a sense of accomplishment?
Darshan: My father would always say that an ice cream’s biggest compliment that he receives is the smile he sees on a child’s face when she eats ice cream. He would always say that I wouldn’t tamper with the quality of the ice creams as I would want my daughters to have the best ice creams. Replicating the same, when I started with Ice creams for doggos, the smiles, the wags, and the lovely licks that we receive after a dog has had the frozen treats is was kept me going through every day.
KYE: What were the Barriers/Obstacles you faced as a new entrepreneur?
Darshan: Manufacturing has always been a male dominating domain, so making my own space in there was the actual journey. From how you dress to how you talk, you’re judged at every step. My father would only say one thing that your respect is in your hands, thus starting my journey. Initially, I would wear western formals but slowly realized that wearing a saree in the manufacturing unit gave you more respect and authority. As from purchase-heads to laborers, everyone is majorly male. Apart from that my biggest obstacle was that the pet industry doesn’t have a frozen category and we are the pioneers in doggy ice creams. Converting that barrier to an opportunity, we have manufactured the instant mix, which is simple to transport and stock, plus gives the bonding that we wanted to create for pet parents and pets.
KYE: Factors you think will help you achieve your business aspirations?
Darshan: Dedication and persistence are what have kept me going.
KYE: How has your venture changed you as a person?
Darshan: Every venture is like a baby, it teaches you a lot and helps you grow personally. Like I mentioned coming from a family business, I thought our factory is the best but slowly when I was exposed to different segments, different manufacturing units, and different kinds of businesses, I realized we still got to learn a lot. I would replicate and make the same mistakes as my parents because as a child you have seen them doing a certain set of actions for years so your brain starts mirroring it and thus you don’t even realize you are making the same errors. Personally I took some time off to evaluate and learned a few skills by taking up additional courses or taking an effort in meeting new people and then every day becomes a learning process. I personally wasn’t very good with the finance vertical as I never handled it in my unit but thanks to Waggy Zone I learned a lot in that space and I am still learning.
KYE: How did it help in becoming a better human being?
Darshan: Well, being with dogs is a bliss. Being with the furry friends and learning about their behaviors from BHARCS, I have slowly absorbed being a bit more patient and most importantly, not keeping presumptions. For example, a dog doesn’t really care whats your color, class, or education. He simply understands the language of love and is happy to be there with you. In the industry, we have seen horrible things but however bad the humans have behaved, the dog or the cat would still trust and love their parents. It’s in giving that you receive and the unconditional love that they have to give.
KYE: What are the words of wisdom you’d like to share with the budding entrepreneurs?
Darshan: If you are from a family business then do a job initially and then enter your business else you would never know the flaws in your system. As an entrepreneur do not hold your identity only with your brand as you are a human so have some time for yourself and your loved ones. Ultimately, if you are happy and refreshed, you will be able to do a better job with your brand. Keep learning, educating yourself, and keep changing and adapting with times as for me my idea was doggy ice cream so it sells frozen or dry powder shouldn’t be a problem. Lastly, it is very important you help your community is growing and you give back to society as from that’s where you are receiving at all.