On a visit to Kancheepuram, Ramya Iyer came across a weaver, who made sarees in a rare blend of silk and linen in a small handloom outfit. Ramya’s tryst with this six-yard wonder was love at first sight. It dawned upon her that this was her calling. “I decided to help him by selling his sarees through a simple store I designed on Tumblr. The project was called The Sixyard. That was my first step as an entrepreneur,” reminisces Ramya Iyer. In a conversation with Anisha Mehta from YourStory.in, she shares her dreams and aspirations.“I wanted to create a platform to bridge the divide between Indian craftsmen, talented designers and the end consumer,” says Ramya. An MBA graduate from XLRI Jamshedpur, Ramya worked for a management consultant firm for close to three years and she realised that she wanted to be an entrepreneur and establish a start up of her own. After setting up The Sixyard project and working with a couple of weavers, 6Y Collective was born with an initial investment of Rs 3 lakhs.
An online collective of emerging and boutique Indian designers and artisans, venture enables designers to showcase and retail their labels to a larger audience across the world. It’s a melting pot of the hottest trends and styles in Indian and Indian inspired fashion. 6Y sells sarees, kurtis, bags, shoes and accessories. “We don’t just handpick designers; we own the end-to-end experience for each label under 6Y - right from product visualisation to quality control to payments and delivery,” explains first-time entrepreneur Ramya. And it is not just Ramya who is the creative mind behind this business idea. The founding team also includes Anjali Patil, who has a degree in fashion design from Parson’sSchool of Design,New York. She has worked for a couple of years with Armani Exchange and The Children’s Place in NY before she joined 6Y. Manu Janardhan is an alumnus of IIT,Madrasand web application development using Ruby on Rails (RoR) is his forte.
“It didn’t take us long to realise the value that could be unlocked by extrapolating this idea: if you could enable new and upcoming designers to showcase their labels without the hassles of technology, supply chain and offer customers a quick and easy way to discover and shop from these labels, it would be a win-win situation for all of us,” shares Ramya. Through 6Y, entrepreneur Ramya and her team want to attract discerning shoppers, who look for a curated and boutique shopping experience. “We have focused so far on marketing to women in the age group of 25-50 years acrossIndia. We are also very keen on targeting Indians living abroad, who we feel will be delighted buy the products we offer,” she adds.
And the response 6Y has generated within just five weeks of going live proves the same. Ramya organised a private launch of the site within an extended circle of friends and colleague in the first week and they have gradually moved beyond this circle over the last four weeks, largely through word of mouth. 6Y has had more than thousand unique visitors since the launch and they spend an average of six minutes on the site. “Our conversion rate has been very encouraging so far,” adds Ramya. The 6Y team works with its designers on a drop-shipping model but their process is slightly modified to ensure all products adhere to their quality standards.
Ramya further explains 6Y’s revenue model. “Designers have zero fixed investment in our model. We work with designers based on a commission fee upon sale. We are fairly transparent in our pricing model; so our designers have a very good understanding of how the final price of their product is arrived at. Almost always, prices on 6Y are lower than the prices at other points of sale – boutiques, exhibitions, etc,” explains Ramya. As of now, 6Y processes all orders on a cash-on-delivery basis.
However, Ramya does agree that the job comes with a lot of challenges. “The market is flooded with e-commerce sites selling Indian ethnics – flash sale sites, marketplace models and regular e-stores. We are not focused on discounts, mass-retailed merchandise or big brands. We believe that the proposition and user experience of a curated collective would make us unique. Having said that, all players in the market are vying for attention and the challenge is to convince customers to move away from sites offering discounts and buy our products which are genuine and exclusive. We feel it that it is very crucial for us to ensure that we manage to build, convey and deliver on our proposition,” Ramya says.
Like any other entrepreneur, Ramya dreams big. Armed with confidence and focus, she aims to keep 6Y Collective designer-centric. “Five years from now, we wish to see 6Y having a high recall value and we wish that anyone wanting to pick up anything Indian to wear should shop on 6Y Collective,” she signs off.
Go to www.6ycollective.com to find out more!