1. Success Story

This Couple Earns Rs. 2 lakh per Month by Making Tableware & Grow Bags From Areca Leaf

This couple left UAE and returns to India to start a business of biodegradable tableware and grow bags from Arecanut Leaves.

Shivani Meena
Tableware made up of Areca Leaf
Tableware made up of Areca Leaf

Engineer Devakumar Narayanan spent four years in the UAE, working a 9-5 corporate job and living a fast-paced lifestyle. Soon after his spouse Saranya joined him, the grueling lifestyle and pace that his job demanded left the duo with such a strong longing to return to their origin - Kerala. 

So they returned to Kasaragod in 2018 intending to launch their own business. 

"We'd always planned to start our own business, but we weren't sure what it would be." So we began exploring concepts that matched our interests. "We could be certain that it had to be a venture with a good reason and social responsibility," Saranya explains told media. After choosing to explore the manufacturing sector, they began seeking locally accessible and natural raw materials that may serve as their USP. 

 "We narrowed it down to arecanut leaf sheaths, known locally as Paala, after studying several alternatives." Arecanut trees grow abundantly in Kasaragod, making it easy to obtain the produce. "They are also biodegradable, ecosystem friendly, and an excellent substitute to plastics," Devakumar adds. 

 After they had decided on an idea, they began looking for a brand name that was significant and related to their company goal. "Arecanut leaf sheaths can be an excellent replacement to both plastic and paper." "We named it Papla from the idea of using less paper and less plastic," Saranya continues. 

Papla, which was founded in 2018, currently produces everything from tableware to grow bags out of arecanut leaf sheaths, with monthly revenue of Rs 2 lakh. 

Reduce Plastic, Save Earth

Devakumar and Saranya soon established a small manufacturing unit near their home in Madikai panchayat, which today employs seven people, according to Devakumar. 

"We get the sheaths primarily from Kasaragod and occasionally from Karnataka." "We purchase them after ensuring their quality and compensate the producers depending on several parameters such as variety, size, and so on," he explains. 

"The sheaths are only collected after they fall out of the trees," he continues. 

The Challenge they face 

Saranya claims that the sheaths are only available during the arecanut tree's flowering season. "Seasonal availability of arecanut leaf sheaths is one of the obstacles when utilizing them." We could only get them for six months out of the year. As a result, we must guarantee that we have enough materials for the remainder of the year. This necessitates a large storage room, which we have put up alongside our unit." 

What do they offer? 

Papla's products mostly consist of tableware such as plates, bowls, and spoons. "We have tableware in a variety of sizes and forms, such as plates ranging from 4 to 10 inches in diameter, shallow and deep bowls, teaspoons, and so on." "We also customize them based on customer preferences," Devakumar explains. 

Papla also creates packaging for handmade soaps, badges, caps, hand-fans, grow bags, and wedding invitations in addition to tableware. "The grow bags are produced by hand." They are created by interweaving together all the sheaths. We cannot promise longevity because the sheath is biodegradable. "We recommend temporarily utilizing them while gifting a plant or sapling that can be transplanted," he explains. 

The company recently developed wedding invitations printed on these leaf sheaths. "Instead of paper, we use UV printing technology to print wedding invitations on sheaths." Aside from that, utilize the same technology to create badges for occasions and events. "It's a terrific replacement for conventional plastic tags," Saranya adds. 

How much do their products cost? 

Papla's greatest sellers are tableware, which ranges in price from Rs 1.50 to Rs 10. Handmade goods, such as grow bags, are marketed at Rs 40, while caps are priced at Rs 100. "We accept purchases via our website as well as over the phone," he says. The duo claims they also export their items on a small scale and hope to grow into handicrafts in the future. 

 "We are now looking to expand our international market for our products." "We also decided to experiment with other natural raw materials, such as banana fibers and coconut shells," she continues. 

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