The 'funky' new entrepreneur in town
In conversation with Mahima Lahrani to know the story of The Funky Bunny.
Mahima Lahrani was part of the COVID-19 batch of 2020. After doing her MSc in Branding & Advertising, Mahima was an unemployed graduate with not many job prospects in the market, thanks to the pandemic. Almost every entrepreneur’s story starts with a big event in their life that precedes the birth of a venture. For Mahima, it was living through a major historical event.
I connected with Mahima over a Zoom call on a bright Monday afternoon. Her ever-present and warm smile is something that instantly makes you feel comfortable in her presence. “Usually Mondays are the busiest day of my week and that is why I wanted to speak with you today, so I could have something to look forward to besides work,” Mahima said while laughing.
Interestingly enough, it’s worth recounting that Mahima and I met on Twitter years ago through a common interest we both had at the time. After talking about said interest on our timelines, we soon added each other on Instagram and Facebook as every internet friendship works and that was it. We never connected again post those few months when we both had that mutual interest.
Until Mahima launched her stationery and lifestyle products startup The Funky Bunny. The Funky Bunny had all the ingredients to appeal to millennials and gen z alike. And it did. With an assortment of ‘funky’ products as the name suggests, yet of practical use. Mahima’s small business has brought about an unforgettable addition to the new wave of quirky accessories and home decor items that we already see swarming the internet.
The Funky Bunny’s signature notebooks
“Finding a job was hard and I didn’t want to continue being in the UK because I would be spending a lot of money while looking for an opportunity, which I wasn’t even sure I was going to get,” Mahima talked about her experience graduating last year and her plans post that. “I did get an internship in Mumbai, with a great agency in Bombay, and while they paid well and everything. The work itself was too stressful and the amount of pressure they were putting on me was ridiculous. I was crying every second day. This was not what I had signed up for,” she elaborated further on what made her decide that she wanted to do something on her own.
“The Funky Bunny started right after I left the internship. I was always into designing notebooks, for myself. I used to do that in college so I decided I had an idea, let’s go for it,” Mahima told me about how The Funky Bunny was ideated and why she started. I then asked her about her design inspiration for the notebooks and where she gets them from. She said, “Everything you see on the website designs I love and I design them with pop culture references that I enjoy because I know how to market those products well. If you give me a show or movie that I haven’t seen, I wouldn’t be able to market it as well as I would for stuff I like. That’s why you’ll see a lot of Schitt’s Creek, Megan Thee Stallion, and all.”
Mahima then went on to tell me about how her products and using pop culture references for notebook designs have also helped her build a mini-community of sorts because people appreciate her using fewer mainstream shows and movies for her designs which aren’t as easily available in India.
Entrepreneurially, she told me that she’s been inspired by Ben Francis, Founder of Gymshark. His passion for what he does and the brand he’s built are what drive and inspire her every day. She laughed while telling me, “I watch his YouTube videos when I’m free and I’m his fangirl in a way.” Continuing on her entrepreneurial journey, Mahima hired her first intern recently. She talked about how she was doing practically everything for The Funky Bunny until her intern came along and how she’s trying her best to be a ‘cool’ leader instead of a proper boss in the true sense of the word.
Mahima Lahrani, the creative mitochondria of The Funky Bunny
“I have worked with mean bosses and I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want people to stress when they’re working for me. I want it to be something they enjoy doing,” Mahima said. “I’m very lucky that I don’t have to manage my household finances so I can experiment and fail with what I’m doing. So I want to enjoy this process and make it enjoyable for everyone around me too.”
Mahima reinforced the fact that she enjoys having multiple things to do at any point in time so she tries not to let it become a stressful process for her either.
Speaking about her plans with The Funky Bunny, she is interested in taking the brand international and her ultimate goal is to provide her customers with “Everything you find on a table, it could be a dressing table, study table or work table,” she said. “I started with marquee lights, and washi tapes recently and bookmarks are in the works too. Just everything that can make your space prettier. I think with the lockdown the need for aesthetic spaces around us has increased, so I want to cater to that.”
Coming to her own IKIGAI next, Mahima talked about how The Funky Bunny ties in with her purpose in life. “I have always been this funky outgoing person, I always think out of the box, I like to break rules and do something that may not always be the norm for someone my age,” she said. “I think my purpose is to do something that nobody else is doing and with The Funky Bunny, that’s exactly what I get to do. A lot of my friends are doing jobs they don’t like and they are accepting their fate as it is but I refuse to do that.”
Mahima then went on to elaborate on how her favourite aspect of working on The Funky Bunny has been the amount of stuff she has learned on the job. From being a delivery person to the only one packaging dozens of orders, she’s truly seen (and done) it all.
When asked about her feelings about being a female entrepreneur in a landscape like the Indian ecosystem, she recounted how she used to take her father along with her to meet vendors so that potential clients would take her seriously.
“Start small, grow gradually. Be passionate about what you do and grow your product or business like it’s your baby,” Mahima said when asked about advice she would give to other aspiring entrepreneurs. “I also think people are too mean sometimes. With the way they talk and behave with customers and clients, it doesn’t always have to be a super formal relationship, and building a good and deep connection would go a long way, in my opinion.”
With a clear focus on being driven by passion and her love for the brand she’s growing, Mahima Lahrani’s IKIGAI truly shines through the work she does and the way she talks about it too.
If you enjoyed this chat, use code ARUSHI10 on The Funky Bunny to avail yourself of a 10% discount on whatever you shop for!