Namrata Shah, Founder, Two up Two Down

In an age where corporate greed and thoughtless exploitation seem to be making most headlines, it is refreshing to know someone like Namrata Shah. Her business idea Yourstory spoke to Namrata to learn about her work and dreams at Two up Two Down Two up Two Down not only produces exclusive hand-crafted fabrics but is also a social change bringer. Her efforts have been recognized by the British Council in the category of ‘Young fashion entrepreneur-2010, India.To read more about the Young Fashion Entrepreneur Award click here. To follow British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur Award on Facebook click here.


Tell us more about Two up Two Down and its work?

Two up Two Down is a textile design studio based in Bangalore, India. The company was started in August 2008, with its core interest being development of hand-crafted textiles.


The key driving force is to offer exclusive hand-crafted fabrics by being socially meaningful. It started with 3 lady workers and currently employs 12 ladies who are enjoying their financial independence by offering their services in surface embellishments. 

Today there is a strong competition being faced by imports of fabrics from China and the invasion of handlooms by power-looms, affecting the entire cycle of demand and supply. Two up Two down in its own humble way, attempts to revive and sustain the hand loom industry by working closely with a small community of weavers in a remote village. We impart training to these weavers in simple yet innovative weaving techniques, there by adding more value to this craft as well as bring in some financial help to the weavers.


What textile design products are you fielding in the market?Our focus is to concentrate on Hand-wovens, and attempt to bring about innovativeness in our work thru newer techniques which appeal to the contemporary customers. While everybody wishes to focus on gen next, we also are trying to offer aesthetic products to those who are in the age group of 30+. Thus we have positioned ourselves as a Hand woven design oriented entity.


Can you tell us how your business idea differs from others?

The major differentiators of our business are the following:

Bespoke or custom designing based on customer requirement’s material, color and choice.

To be socially meaningful thru our efforts, by empowering women.

To be environmentally conscious, by using eco friendly and natural materials.


How does your business model operate?

We operate on a model which constitutes of in-house as well as outsourcing of facilities. While our entire business is about designing and innovativeness we make sure all our designing is done in-house as well as execute all our basic production in-house to maintain quality and consistency. However we outsource facilities like dyeing, printing and tailoring by working with start-up units as it gives them as equal opportunity to grow and participate.


Our products being unique and exclusive do get appreciated and retailed at some of the very niche stores in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, while we also strike a balance by making our range available to established retail chain of stores all across India as it helps us connect with more number of customers in turn help us get prompt feedback on our range.


When did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I have not become an entrepreneur right after my formal education. I have worked with some of the leading textile houses and have been a design consultant with one of the leading textile export firm in Bangladesh. However there was always an urge to create my own designs and be an independent player in the market. To be an entrepreneur gives you that freedom to actualize your dreams into reality and it is this factor which has drawn me to this calling.


What achievement or recognition has meant the most to you?

While it is very difficult to list down what is the single biggest achievement, the progress has been coming in small steps. First of all being accepted by some of the leading fashion houses of the country itself is a big leap. In a short span of time we have managed to showcase our collections at high-stores in Mumbai and Bangalore as well as collaborate with a chain of retail outlets.


However the most recent and satisfying achievement has been by British Council in the category of ‘Young fashion entrepreneur-2010, India. This has been a truly satisfying award as it recognizes our efforts and gives an opportunity to present our brand to the outside world. The council sponsored a trip to the UK, and afforded a window to explore the contemporary design and markets trends in one of the fashion capitals of Europe. This trip enabled me to meet an array of promising and established designers and entrepreneurs. This visit has certainly brought in a lot more understanding in our work and helps us to focus on designing with a clear picture of our customers. Our venture is finding its feet and we hope in next couple of years to become a self sustaining activity.


It's a great achievement as it is on an all India basis. The idea was to show how different and unique is your work while being socially responsible. Besides getting accepted and encouraged by such fashion icons like Fab India and other leading boutique stores of the country is yet an another such recognition.


How would you define entrepreneurship to a novice?

Entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park. It is a bold step and not to be attempted as a last refuge. Do think thru your plans, give it sufficient time and once in it, try to stick. More than anything else, be passionate about what you want to do, and do not expect instant results. Also take a leaf from other successful entrepreneurs.


What do you think needs to change in order to make Indian entrepreneurship more successful?

India is probably the most successful entrepreneurial lab in the world. We have this trait of entrepreneurship in our blood. However, I feel that in the modern world, where change is the order of the day, an entrepreneur has to be on his toes all the time. One of the inherent difficulties, that an entrepreneur faces, is the lack of adequate support systems. Govt institutions just speak and publicize but are of not much help.

There is immense talent and scope for entrepreneurs in India, however with inadequate support of facilities and services one often is discouraged to take this path.


Yourstory wishes our Young entrepreneur Namrata Shah success and fortitude in the days to come. We are sure that the potential in her that has been recognized by the British council among others will soon guide her to greater achievements.She can be contacted at 9880077782