How This Self-Taught Designer Decided To Pursue Her Entrepreneurial Dream During A Pandemic?
In 2019, Rhea Bhattacharya closed her digital marketing firm TattleTale to start working on her dream entrepreneurial business, Drawn, a Gurugram-based women's clothing brand.
When she started domestic work and placed orders for the first batch of products to the producers, she had to cancel them due to the COVID-19 outbreak and return home with several goods already produced.
"The brand was supposed to be launched in 2020, but I didn't know how to launch a clothing label when no one was shopping and everyone was at home. Factories and production facilities were closed and the general atmosphere was not very fun, " she said, remembering the difficult beginning of her business.
However, as people got used to the new rules and overcame pandemic uncertainties, so did the pandemic.
Around September last year, Rhea decided to try on her own clothes, posted some photos, and launched the brand amid positive feedback from internet users. By November 2021, approximately 2,500 limited design and print orders had been shipped.
Fulfill the dream
Rhea has always wanted to be a designer and stayed close to her passion, but only as a fashion journalist, writing for magazines such as Grazia and Cosmopolitan. Later, she worked in public relations and worked as a famous publicist, which helped her enter the world of stylists and designers.
"But I haven't seen myself like this for 10 or 20 years. After seeing the proper backend work of small and large fashion labels, I decided to try my own brand of women's clothing, ”she says.
As a self-taught entrepreneur and designer, Rhea did not intend to do anything "innovative", but offered casual, comfortable clothing for Indian women.
"We have so many outfits in the closet, but the options, at least in my closet, remain quite limited: a white shirt and a blue striped shirt. I noticed this gap and realized that many working women, especially the elderly and middle-aged, are looking for options for everyday wear that are so few now,” she explains.
Using his savings, Draun aims to "take very classic and simple silhouettes and present them in new and interesting ways to print."
The 34-year-old entrepreneur started with a clear target audience: workers like her, aged between 28 and 45, whose ability to earn at that age was high and stable. However, Drawn found buyers among the young students and even a 65-year-old woman for their clothes priced between 3,500 and 4,500 lei.
The comics, which are sold online through the website, will be available in New York City retail stores and a variety of designer stores in India next year.
Rhea says it's been a challenge to find producers who work with small businesses, producing smaller batches of products without charging an exorbitant price. Even though Rhea started working with a manufacturer in her network, coordinating the logistics for the virtual launch and delivery of the products was a challenge.
India has become the sixth-largest women's clothing market in the world by 2020, according to Statista. The pandemic has given rise to many small businesses and local brands, such as Drawn, which share the market space with well-known brands such as Zara, H&M, Marks and Spencer and others.
Drawn relied on social media for marketing. "In troubled times, it was very difficult to persuade people to be optimistic, happy, and shopping when the general environment during a pandemic was demotivating," says Rhea.
The entrepreneur is now taking a conservative approach to growth and is striving to expand product categories based on sales and customer feedback, among other factors.