Close friends Mallika Singhania and Shruti Rathi were looking to do something together. After several years of discussions and brainstorming, they realised that the digital and fashion space excited them.
Mallika says they saw a gap in the Indian digital space for a channel that provides curated and comprehensive fashion content, which is relevant to the well-read Indian consumer. The Indian reader was craving both Indian and international content that was well presented.
"After many discussions, we had our Eureka! moment and set up Styleogram," says Mallika. Styleogram works as a fashion and beauty platform that brings in trend alerts, designer interviews and tips and information on fashion.
After completing a Bachelors degree in Communications at Northwestern University, USA and MA in Mass Media at LSE, UK, Mallika published eight shopping guides with Roli Books and Times of India. She also wrote a fashion column for DNA for five years and wrote for many fashion magazines as well as anchored TV shows on CNBC Awaaz, NDTV and Zoom related to fashion. She successfully founded and sold her fashion e-commerce venture Indianhanger.com last year.
Shruti has published a couple of fashion guides with Roli Books and Rupa Books while freelancing for other publications. She also ran a successful multi-designer fashion retail store Sankalan in Delhi for a few years and then launched a luxury home accessory line called Firefly Home.
The team consists of the two founders and freelancers/contributors. They've also outsourced work to independent companies for certain aspects of their business but are now looking for the right people to expand their team.
Mallika says that the key challenges they've faced is in the pre-launch phase, mainly related to web development, as they have a highly customised content management system.
It is challenging, Mallika says, to handle, content, marketing, brand collaborations and PR with a small team. However, they have reached out to their community and have got good amount of help pouring in from women specialised in media related activities in the past.
She says it's a tightrope to walk between work and family given that both founders have young children and the world of startups and blogging requires endless commitment. But Mallika believes that as women entrepreneurs it's important not feel guilty or apologetic about your career. "Respect your job and time, others will do so too. There should always be no compromise for quality, whether it's your personal or professional life," she says.
The time of marketplaces is gradually moving towards a more discovery and curation platform. Recently, Yebhi pivoted to a discovery model, and other fashion discovery platforms like Wooplr, Red Polka and Roposo have raised funds. The Indian online fashion market is believed to touch USD 35 billion by 2020.
If Google India research is to be believed, then every third shopping search on Google from India is fashion related, and queries in this particular category is said to be growing at 66 per cent YOY.
Revenue and future plans
Styleogram generates a fair amount of revenue through brand collaborations, ads, and editorials, and the team now is focussing on increasing market share. They are also looking to link e-commerce sites to their products with a ‘Buy Now’ button.
Currently bootstrapped, Styleogram is looking to grow big and fast with investments in the next three months. "We want to become the market leader in the fashion content platform space for global quality fashion content and videos," says Mallika.
The fashion blogging and curated content industry has transformed and forced the industry to look at groups that were previously ignored. There are several platforms dedicated for apparel and accessories that cater to modest fashion, plus-size and different body types.