To son, with love

Mysuru has retained the Cleanest City tag for the second consecutive time. While the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC), its staff and the pourakarmikas have been largely appreciated for their efforts in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the city, there is one person and her products that have contributed to the city’s cleanliness as well. And it is Vijaya V Shankar and her innovative cleaning solutions-Hospinol and DirtNil.

Since 1990, Vijaya’s Vaibhav Enterprises has been a leading manufacturer and suppliers of white and liquid detergent solution in the city.

For the past 25 years, a larger part of Mysuru’s colleges, hospitals, households, hotels and industries have been using her products and thus contributing towards a hygienic environment and making the Swachch Bharat campaign a success.

Behind this entrepreneurial success is the story of one woman’s determination to overcome the constraints imposed by circumstances and the desire to provide her son the best.

Vijaya, a native of Mysuru, was married at 18 years old to Vijay Shankar of Srirangapatna. Mr Vijay Shankar worked in the accounts department of Missionary Manufacturers Corporation in Bengaluru. Soon they had a son whom they named Vaibhav. The family was run like any typical middle class family on a monthly salary of Rs 850. It was a well-knit family of three. However, a blow came when the factory was locked out and the family had to head out to Srirangapatna. Vijaya’s father-in-law though welcomed them said that their food and shelter would be taken care of and that Vaibhav could be put to a school in the village. The future as envisaged by her father-in-law though hurt Vijaya, it made her resolve to move to Mysuru for her son’s bright future.

“I did not want to limit my life to two square meals a day,” she had replied to her father-in-law.

After stiff opposition and severe criticism, she persuaded her husband and moved to Mysuru. They rented a house of her co-sister and the couple wondered what their future would be in Mysuru with no job in hand.

Vijaya’s father was a businessman. Her family was the suppliers of phenyl for a very long time and one of the only few in the business. Vijaya approached her father and explained her situation. She told him that she would buy phenyl from him and sell it.

With the Rs 100 Vijaya had received as a parting gift from her house owner back in Bengaluru, she bought two litres of phenyl from her father. With two litres of phenyl in her hand she approached the Ramakrishna Ashram and after convincing them for an hour she sold it to them for Rs 200.  During her talk, she explained her state and her desire to educate her son with honesty which continued to be her driving force.

After paying her father she kept aside Rs 50 as profit.

Her husband was a little hesitant about the idea of carrying phenyl and approaching people. But Vijaya was undeterred. Soon he too joined her. So the team of two was set.

Vijaya continued with this for six months and soon realised she was not making much, as she had to pay her father. An idea struck her and she approached her father and asked him if he could teach her to make phenyl. At this juncture Vijaya’s mother appears on the scene and dissuades her husband from teaching their daughter as it would affect their sons’ business who were in the cleaning solution business too.

But Vijaya does not succumb and explains that it was their responsibility to help her. And finally her father, much against the wish of other family members, writes the formula to her.

With savings of Rs 500 from earlier selling of phenyl, Vijaya prepares the concentrated solution at the kitchen using a small stove. And that is how Vaibhav Enterprises was born.

With phenyl prepared by her own hands, Vijaya heads to JSS Hospital who agree to buy her product and since then there was no looking back for her. Soon her clients expanded to Vikrant, St Joseph’s State High School. Also, one of the oldest hospitals in the city Dr Rajashekar Hospital become her client.

Automative Axles Limited which was in its nascent stages then akin to Vaibhav Enterprises become her client. She started to supply soap oil to them and continues to do so even now after 26 years. They have been one of her longstanding customers. Her husband too turns out to be a great facilitating factor in her work.

She bags a good order from Ramakrishna Hospital from Coimbatore from the good office of her neighbour Ram Kumar who holds an important position in L&T now. With an order to supply 50 litres of cleaning solution every month priced at Rs 150 per litre, the business gets a leap.

Her son Vaibhav was pursuing his II PUC when Vijaya’s father approaches her and asks her to give up the business as it was hurting their business in the field. When she refuses to budge, her father warns her that she would have to choose between her father and continuing her business. Vijaya, who having established the business with the sheer grit to give a good life to her son, chooses her son’s growth.

A year and half ago, Vijaya lost her husband, her companion, an indispensable part of her struggle throughout and who believed in her commitment to growth.

Thus driven by the commitment towards a better life for her son and the family, Vijaya who sold two litres of phenyl to Ramakrishna Ashram, her first client, has been supplying cleaning solution to Hotel Dasprakash Paradise, Silent Shores-Resort & Spa, all branches of Vikram Hospital in Mysuru, Automative Axles Limited, hotels in Maddur, Bharat Hospital and Institute of Oncology, CUPA and HCG, Bengaluru, Ramakrishna Hospital, Coimbatore, and a host of other clients too.

Vijaya supplies cleaning solution to all branches of Vikram Hospital and has been supplying 250 litres of concentrated cleaning solution to HCG, Bengaluru, for the past eight years. To this day Vijaya alone prepares the solution and has employed one person recently for loading and unloading of cans.

Vaibhav her son who had been her sole motivating factor to thrive in the business pursued his engineering with excellence and is now employed in L&T. He is married and the couple is blessed with a beautiful daughter.

“Now looking back and narrating my journey so far it seems a fairy tale but back then it did not seem so. The order from Ramakrishna Hospital in Coimbatore was a huge order. Though it gave a boost to my business it was tough to fulfill the order. I having prepared the solution used to carry it and travel to Coimbatore in KSRTC bus on my own. I used to wake up early prepare breakfast for my husband and son and lunch as well. After assigning the order, I used to head back to Mysuru at once, reach home and prepare dinner. My son was pursuing his engineering and there was no way I could not fulfill this order,” recounted Vijaya.

Vijaya’s message for the women.

“Everything is in one’s mind. Do not let anything bog you down. And to set up a successful business however small or big one has to be hard working, non-compromising in quality, disciplined and honest. In case of a woman, be bold, truthful and articulate. All these factors instill confidence in you. And the moment you are confident there is nothing that you cannot accomplish,” said Vijaya.

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