From dirty socks to sensual stockings, Masoom Minawala has come a long wayTanvi Dubey
Masoom Minawala is a 21-year-old fashion blogger-turned CEO of a fashion portal, Style Fiesta. Before she discovered fashion, Minawala was a tomboy fussing least about what she wore. Today, her company has turned profitable in its first year of operation.
Style Fiesta is vivid, trendy, unique and easy on the pocket. It also reflects her personal style to a great extent as she personally curates the items on offer.
But the online fashion world is a crowded marketplace. Fashion portals Jabong, KOOVS and Flipkart where Masoom also sells her merchandise, are flooded with many such design houses. HerStory caught up with Masoom to hear more about Style Fiesta and its plans to counter the competition.
From tomboy to fashionista:
Masoom was a tomboy in school. As the football captain, she always came home with the dirtiest socks. Things changed around grade 12th, and all of a sudden Masoom became aware of fashion and developed an interest.
The logical next step was an internship with a cousin, who was a fashion designer. But the experience wasn’t what she expected.
Masoom turned her focus to the business side with a marketing internship with Brand Marketing India, where one of her research projects was on fashion bloggers. “This was the first time I stumbled upon the concept of fashion blogging, and frankly, I was enthralled,” she says.
So enthralled that she went ahead and started her own blog. Masoom began to style her existing wardrobe and post pictures online for the whole world to see.
What started out purely as a hobby was soon garnering thousands of hits, numerous comments and amazing feedback from unknown, faceless readers. It was amazing to see my work and style being appreciated by people everywhere. Month on month, I started blogging as much as I could, building a relationship with my readers based on just one thing — I enjoyed doing it! Nothing can replace that satisfaction that still comes when I put up a post on my blog.
Woman on a mission: Accessible trendy fashion for all women
A year-and-a-half into fashion blogging made her realize that this was going to be her life. At this point, her father urged her to take some formal qualifications in fashion. She completed six diploma courses from London, after which she returned to Mumbai and started working on her e-commerce website. By December 2012, Style Fiesta was up and running. “I was driving traffic to the website through my blog, converting my readers into customers,” she says.
Technology, surprisingly, was her biggest hurdle. Masoom says she had to change her developers four times before she set up her e-commerce website. The process was beyond stressful she says. The biggest problem that e-commerce in India is facing is technologically inefficient labour. “I am still looking for a developer to give me the site in Magento. Style Fiesta is now hosted on Shopify and I have taught myself basic coding so I don’t need to rely on another person,” says Masoom.
Masoom strength has kept her going through all the hiccups she’s faced while setting up this business and running it. She states confidently, “I don’t remember a time I’ve ever done anything with a fear of failure. Even if I have a bad idea, I say to myself, ‘What’s the worst that could come out of it?’”
Competition is tough with same merchandise available on multiple fashion portals. “Style Fiesta is about the experience and not products. The experience of navigating through a great-looking, style-centric website to pick your product, having a live stylist guide you through your purchase for the perfect product or simply the speed we’re delivering international trends to India gives Style Fiesta an edge,” according to Masoom. “We guarantee the absolute and latest and most fashionable. With each buying decision we’re placing ourselves in the shoes of the customer and evaluating our choices instead of taking calculated risks unlike other players who focus on a universal standard approach.”
Up and gunning:
She received an initial investment to set up from her father. “Though halfway through the first year, we recovered the investment, and since then, we have been churning our profits back into the business.” Masoom
Masoom shares that they are clocking approximately Rs 22,00,000 for the first quarter, and are forecasting a month-on-month substantial boost to round up with a Rs 1.5 crore plus revenue for 2014.
Until recently, 90% of their sales have been organic with little or no advertising spends. Since last three months, they have begun to dish out funds for marketing, advertising and PR. “We’ve seen a prominent boost since we started an online ad campaign in July, and are expecting a massive push in the coming months.”
Her team of seven members works from her warehouse in Lower Parel. Along with the offer of free shipping everywhere in India, cash-on-delivery services, Masoom offers free returns and live stylists to enhance shopping experience. Recently, they have also begun selling on third party websites.
Her future plans include expanding product categories and provide a 360 degree fashion experience for the masses.
Message for our readers:
Style, for me, has always been a representation of my personality. How an artist expresses his emotions through his paintings, I express my ideas, my opinions and my individuality through my dressing. Rule number one of being stylish – be an inventor of your own style. I have so many days where I can’t imagine wearing anything but yoga pants and there’s no fashion guru in this universe that can stop me.
So be your own person, your own style guru for it is all about you!
See more of Style Fiesta here.