Mother-daughter duo overcome grief, start ‘WhySoBlue’ fashion portal

14th Oct 2015
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Unlike other entrepreneurs, Shweta Shivkumar never wanted to start up. The trigger that led her to starting her own venture with her mother as co-founder was perhaps her father’s demise in 2012, which left the mother-daughter duo at a crossroad.

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Shweta (L) and Jaya Shivkumar, co-founders of WhySoBlue

“It didn’t make sense to pursue my higher studies at that point in time. Though it sounds very Bollywoodish, my mother’s distant cousin came to pay his last respects when my father passed away and he knew a person in his building who was looking for a person to take care of the Ad Sales department in Outlook’s Business magazine,” says 24-year-old Shweta, the co-founder of WhySoBlue online fashion portal.

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Shweta Shivkumar

A 13 month stint at Outlook as her first job followed by 6-7 months of Media Planning in another company and Shweta had had enough.

In between work, Shweta used to look up fashion magazines and blogs and make the most of her break hours. Though she wasn’t convinced of starting up a venture, Shweta knew that she would love to dabble in fashion someday.

It was her mother Jaya who encouraged her to quit the job as she was dissatisfied but Shweta took time before taking the final call to say goodbye to her job and change gears to start up instead.

“I would not be motivated to start up had it not been for my father’s untimely death. He had developed some infection in his liver and just when things started looked better after prolonged treatment, he passed away. Had he been around, I would have just delayed my starting up to a further date, I wouldn’t have had courage to start up,” says Shweta recollecting the way she and her mother went about doing things, meeting people, arranging capital to invest in their startup etc.

The mother-daughter duo thought just one thing – it couldn’t get worse than this.

WhySoBlue starts up

A name born after Shweta and her younger sister brainstormed over it till late one night, WhySoBlue was a conscious effort to keep the term ‘fashion’ out of the name. “Our brand stands for everything peppy and happy, something which will instantly lift the mood of the person donning the product,” says Shweta.

And it was immense support from her mother that forced Shweta to start up. “I told her she should not continue doing something just because she is the lone earning member of the family, she could always follow her dreams of doing something related to fashion,” says Jaya.

For someone who has been the pillar of support for the family right after her father started keeping ill, Jaya was always a source of inspiration for her daughters.

“Once decided, we pooled in money without taking loan from anyone. We decided to gradually grow and then take a loan if required,” says Jaya, obviously the stronger of the two women when it comes to taking decisions. It was she who decided that they start up now rather than keep delaying it for the opportune moment.

Jaya’s stitching prowess comes to use

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Jaya Shivkumar

Jaya is adept with needlework and has been so for the last 25 years and it helped that she made mostly Western clothes for her daughters to flaunt as children. When WhySoBlue was conceptualized, the roles were rather cut-out right at the beginning. While Shweta takes care of sourcing the fabrics, deciding on the final designs and taking care of marketing, Jaya looks into the execution and the stitching part. They produce in-house and with a total control over production, they customize for their shoppers too. From tweaking designs to making something totally new, under WhySoBlue’s umbrella, they try to incorporate everything fashionable. This brand started operating very recently and are looking at expanding rapidly.

Mother Jaya stands by daughter

“Financially we were not too stable when my husband passed away. Though I motivated her to quit her job, I knew in my heart that it was one of the biggest risks we were taking. But then she was very unhappy in her last role, so it didn’t make sense to continue there. We thought we would pull it over together,” says the brave mother. Though she has been stitching for her daughters and some of her friends for all these years, it was only after getting on to this role that Jaya got a lot of confidence and each time someone praises her creations, she feels happy.

She had the entrepreneurial instinct in her right from the beginning and it helped that she pushed her daughter to start up rather than the younger woman pushing her into it. “In their growing up years’ too, I tried making Western clothes through trial and error method and succeeded,” says Jaya.

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