Appealing to The Indian At Heart – Indian Concepts

Young mothers who have to quit work to take care of their babies can sometime get frustrated about the sudden lack of independence in their lives. While some women may get depressed about the fact, some like Manali Shenoy decided to look for opportunity in adversity.  “I never thought I would start something of my own or be called a mompreneur,” says Manali -- a post graduate in management and who earlier worked in advertising. After few desperate attempts to balance both work and home and dabbling in flexible jobs, Manali finally decided to start her own venture Indian Concepts in 2012.

The premise behind the venture was a problem which even Manali faced as an office–goer - What should I wear to office today? Manali had a particular liking for kurtas and decided to make that her area of focus for the new venture. Gaudily embroidered and jazzy printed kurtas were not the right fit for the sophisticated corporate environment. And for those not willing to wear tight fitting western wear, elegant ethnic Kurtas was particularly favoured. Indian Concepts therefore offers cotton woven (preferable traditional fabrics) kurtas which carry single colour tones with professional cuts and which can sync with the corporate dress code. Manali has positioned it as India’s first brand to launch corporate kurtas and has been successful in carving a niche for itself. Manali is very happy with the progress so far and now plans to diversify into other product categories for corporate women like silk kurtas, short kurtis, footwear, office bags, jewellery etc. She is targeting working women in the age group of 28-40 years living in Metro and Tier 1 cities of India.

“It was challenging for me as I didn’t know from where to procure readymade stitched kurtas according to my specifications as there was no source available. I didn’t want to manufacture in the early days as that would mean heavy investment in machinery, labour and designs. The quantities ordered were too less and to cover the price of raw material, stitching from suppliers, garment manufacturers would have been difficult” says Manali. Paying exorbitant margins to sell her kurtas was not a viable option either. She started working with people who were small, needed work and could deliver quality stuff. “We started with a lean structure and a majority of the work was outsourced. This gave her greater flexibility in operations while ensuring competitive pricing for the products,” explains Manali. Only value added activities like procurement, product development, designing and marketing was being done in-house, with voluntary support of her husband who assisted her with marketing and finance.

The consumer insight that forms the backbone of this venture was the fact that corporate women now have access to internet in office as well as at home and therefore could be reached using eCommerce. Indian Concepts also enjoys a limited presence in multi brand retail outlets.

Manali feels digital marketing is ideal for her brand as it is effective for creating awareness and generating traffic to the web store. Indian Concepts uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn for connecting and interacting with the existing customers to provide them with information about new launches, seek feedback for the existing designs and input for development of new designs. This is also helping them build a long term relationship with the customers and retain them longer. Indian Concepts was also among the few start-ups invited by IIM Ahmedabad for their Entre Fair 2012 to showcase their merchandise.