Anchal Gupta taking Lucknow’s Chikankari art to foreign markets with Dress365days
Dress365days is an indigenous e-commerce site selling Chikankari dresses, the oldest and renowned art work of Lucknow. Anchal Gupta was looking out to buy designer Chikankari dresses online and could not find any quality places to shop. Thus was born her website.
We at YourStory caught up with her to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey.
YS: What was the motivation for setting up Dress365days? Was there any specific market gaps that you wanted to bridge?
AG: I am an online shopping freak and have been doing a lot of shopping on top online fashion stores for quite some time. During this phase I found that there was an e-commerce company selling designer Chikankari. Most of them were selling low quality dresses, and there was a clear lack of designer items in Chikankari. The heavy pure georgette lehengas, sarees and Anarkalis with Mukaish/Kamdani work were nowhere to be seen. I saw this as an opportunity to serve people across the globe. Since I was born and brought up in Lucknow, it was easy for me to start my own workshop.
I have tested this idea with many people in my social circle and found people craving for for this stuff which I used to bring for them whenever I went to Lucknow. All this motivated me to start my online portal and let this ancient craftsmanship spread globally.
YS: When did you start Dress365days?
AG: Dress365days started its journey in April 2013.
YS: When you started what was the seed capital?
AG: I started with a capital of 5 lakh initially.
YS: Could you share some milestones in your journey with Dress365days.
AG: In a year’s time, we have exported to almost all major countries. Domestic sales have also taken a quantum leap especially in tier 2and tier 3 cities. Till now, touch wood, we don’t have any dissatisfied customer. We have our loyal set of customers both in India and abroad.
YS: In a nutshell, what does Dress365days offer?
AG: Dress365days is an exclusive online Lucknow Chikankari store for Chikankari hand embroidered kurtis, dress materials, sarees, kid's and men's wear at very reasonable rates. Our endeavour is to provide quality products to the connoisseurs of Chikankari. Our foremost aim is to introduce this ancient artwork across the world and not let it be limited to its place of origin. Our success reflects in our increasing number of client base, especially in Canada, the US, the UK and the Middle East in a short span of time.
One of our main attractions is our collection of designer wear with intricate Chikankari and Muquaish work on both pure georgette and cotton fabrics. It comprises of unstitched kurti fabrics, heavily embroidered dress materials and semi-stitched Anarkalis in pure georgette fabric. These are at par in quality with the stuff provided by leading fashion houses but without making a hole in your pockets. This collection is very much in demand during festive seasons like Diwali, Eid or weddings by customers across the world.
YS: Are your craftsmen and artisans especially from Luknow?
AG: Yes, the craftsmen are basically from Lucknow, who have devoted their entire life to this artwork. We are committed to do something for the entire community.
YS: What is the market for Chikankari work?
AG: At present, there is a vast variety of Chikan work in different types of fabrics. It’s liked by people across the globe, including India, USA, the UK, the Middle East, Australia and NewZealand.
YS: How has the response been so far?
AG: The response has been really good which can be seen from the increasing number of customers both in India and abroad. Our customers include not only people of Indian origin or NRIs but also people from different nationalities.
YS: What is keeping you excited about what you are doing? What are some of your personal and professional motivations?
AG: The feeling of doing something and managing everything on your own keeps me going. At the end of the day when there is no energy left, the feedback from my customers rejuvenates me for the next day. Here I must also mention the tremendous support of my husband, without which it would not be possible to reach here. He motivated me and took care of our kid while I was occupied with my work.
YS: Any advice for women in this field?
AG: Just listen to your heart and do what you are best at. If you have the guts to do, nobody can stop you to reach great heights. There will be phases of struggle and disappointments, but never lose hope.
YS: Do feel that women entrepreneurs are not heard?
AG: I do not think so in the present time.
YS: As a woman what difficulties did you face?
AG: The most important was managing the house and bringing up my 2-year-old kid. But all this was overcome by the support I got from my husband.
YS: What is the revenue for Dress365days?
AG: Since it is privately held, we would not like to disclose at this juncture.
YS: How is the market responding to your venture?
AG: People like our stuff because of its uniqueness and affordability.
Website : Dress365days