The heart of the peppy Worli home-office – the boss’ cabin, the nerve centre, the base camp – is a riot of serious banter, excited nervousness, and organised chaos. And what might appear as its two most fragile arteries, are what pump blood and life into the entire company. This young and vivacious best friend pair, Trishla Mehta and Yashni Kothari, might seem like they are the quintessential party-heads looking for a good time, but their only idea of a good time right now it is to create a business and see it grow beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations.
As roommates while studying different areas of fashion at the London College of Fashion, Trishla and Yashni were each other’s ‘persons.’ Living with each other brought out the best in them, as they learnt, evolved, and bloomed together during the course.
“Knowing and living with Yashni for a year in London made her my go-to person. All the cooking, cleaning, laundry and late night chats fast-tracked our bonding. The comfort and compatibility we shared led us to believe that we would make a strong team!” Trishla recalls, joyfully.
Through her research during her masters, she realised that there was huge scope for fashion designers who were creating quality products but were keeping their reach limited to their known social circle and client base. “They needed access to a wider audience which could be provided by a digital platform. And naturally, even to give a shape and form to this idea, I went straight to Yashni,” says Trishla.
Business meetings disguised over coffees and dinners gave consequence to that idea, and they were convinced that they may be on to something big. “We wanted to build a unique and disruptive fashion business. The pillars of fashion are authenticity and creativity, which for us are these talented, upcoming fashion and lifestyle designers,” she explains.
“The most conducive way for doing this was building a transparent ecosystem where designers and consumers could exist, interact, and get to know each other’s styles, without sale transactions being at the centre of it all – That’s how the concept of The Coloured Trunk came about. Our belief in it gave us the confidence to take the leap from our well paying jobs,” adds Yashni .
“Before starting The Coloured Trunk, we were often advised against taking the entrepreneurial leap. Quitting a well paying and secure job was not a wise and thought-through decision according to a lot of people we met,” Trishla says. They were hindered by financial constraints since they did go ahead and quit their jobs and their limited savings were the only startup fuel.
Bootstrapping also meant working out of their homes initially, which also meant staying under the constant scrutiny of well-wishers with their unwelcome two pennies worth on their lives.
“Being women, we were expected to be in a safe career path, not make any unconventional decisions and perhaps even be married by now. However, our families were very supportive and gave us all the encouragement and confidence we needed to make this bold choice,” says Trishla.
There is this notion that to be a successful woman one has to be the ‘man’ in the pack? But Trishla and Yashni have all the evidence one would ever need, to refute that theory. Haters gonna hate, and doubters gonna doubt, but their unwavering commitment eventually puts a muzzle on them all.
“Fashion is a women-centric industry. We just had to keep proving ourselves because of our age since older women are often taken more seriously. We were often mistaken for two college students who had a whim and started a blog, so we had to be assertive and let people know that we mean business,” says Trishla.
“We set high standards for us and move heaven and earth to achieve them. We are strong believers in organised chaos – because things are always hectic and chaotic but being organised gets us through each day,” says Yashni.
Backing The Coloured Trunk is an army of over a hundred upcoming designers and brands from across the country and an eight thousand-strong audience base that they have built across their various social media pages, since their launch four months ago. Currently growing at 190% per month, their brand-new website also launched on October 22. They also plan to foray into various diversifications, including an industry and consumer-facing experiential event, and a free-to-download in-house fashion magazine by end of this year.
“Moving forward we see ourselves being much more than a fashion platform – we want to be an aggregator, perhaps an accelerator or an incubator supplying complete creative know-how, for upcoming design talent.”