Two strangers met in a Jain temple in Indore in 2012 and their mutual interest in spirituality, vegetarianism, and fashion got them talking.
It was in 2013 that they both connected with each other to take things forward. Ritika Jain and Shruti Jain describe themselves as strong-minded women who are driven by their work and have a balanced emotional quotient. After much brainstorming, they zeroed in on the idea of a venture that would talk about all things related to fashion, beauty, and fashionable lifestyle, but with an ethical twist.
Ritika and Shruti’s love for fashion is driven by a larger and personal goal – promoting a cruelty-free and an ethical lifestyle. This means fashion minus animal cruelty, child labour, sweat shops, and products that are not harmful for the planet.
“There is a huge vegetarian and vegan population out there. However, when it comes to their lifestyle choices, they are either not aware or can’t find the same quality they are looking for and hence end up picking up non-vegan stuff.” It is this gap that they want to address through Address Chic. The aim is to not only help people find great quality options that help them to make informed choices. “While the awareness and demand for vegan fashion, accessories, and beauty is increasing, there are very few good vegan stores and vegan magazines that offer access to quality fashion. Taking up on this opportunity, we decided to launch our vegan fashion online magazine and store in June 2014,” share Ritika and Shruti.
The Indore connection
Both the women hail from Indore and have spent their childhood in the city. Ritika did her schooling and B.Tech in Electronics and Telecommunication from Indore and has been based out of Jaipur since 2015. “I have offices in both the cities and I do travel from time-to-time to Indore for work,” she says
Ritika, 27 years old, is not new to entrepreneurship. Prior to Address Chic, she started an IT company MMF Infotech, which provides e-commerce solutions to clients in US and Europe. She has expertise in IT and marketing.
Shruti, 31 years old, is based out of Dubai and travels to India every two months for work. She comes from a finance background and has worked as an investment manager in a stock broking company in Mumbai. She has a Master’s degree in Finance and Investments from UK.
Staying on top in a niche market
Taking the e-commerce route, they work from Jaipur, Indore, and Dubai and their target audience is
generally individuals aged between 16 and 40 years. Supported by a team of 10, which includes the IT team, SEO experts, and writers, they manage to carefully pick, inspect, and use the products before recommending it to the audience.
The IT team is based in India. Dubai is where they take strategic decisions, where they liaise with brands and designers across the world and run the show.
“USA and UK are very good markets for vegan. These are two places where we get most traffic from,” they share. They claim that in the past year they have seen tremendous growth in traffic and mostly from USA and Europe. “We are flooded with queries about vegan fashion and beauty and people seek suggestions in these areas. The store has just been launched and we are trying to have more brands on board before we start marketing it.”
Other than all the competition they face in the e-commerce sector, Ritika and Shruti have to liason and associate with brands. They meet designers and brand owners in-person in different parts of the world, and only when they are satisfied do they strike a relationship with them. “While this can be challenging and is an expensive proposition, we think it is important to maintain our brand ethos,” they share. To deal with this challenge, they travel extensively to meet people, which makes things a lot easier.
Ritika shares that her biggest challenge has been promoting their brand and its products in the international market by sitting here in India. The duo has travelled to Europe and UK to make contacts with designers and set up local networks. They are hopeful that frequenting the targeted markets frequently and exploring the trends in the niche market could help them to overcome this challenge.
Shruti’s biggest challenge has been to work around how the world of internet works. “Before I started Address Chic, I barely had any idea about what is SEO and was not even aware of the power of social media for promoting a brand, since I was too busy juggling with numbers and reviewing portfolios. Fortunately, Ritika is an expert in this and with her help I am learning and getting a hold of these things. These aspects are very crucial for an e-commerce company like ours. I am actually beginning to enjoy it now,” she says with a smile.
Last year has been a great learning experience for the duo. They realised that social media is the future and can be used for a smart marketing strategy. “We also realised that it is important to take a focussed approach when it comes to social media and marketing than have a finger in every pie,” they say.
The women have big plans for 2016. They plan to introduce a line of Address Chic products later in the year, focus on growth and tie-up with more ethical designers, and get more traffic on the website.
Following their passion
Ask the ladies what keeps them motivated and prompt comes the reply from Ritika – “My passion to get successful in my venture and my family are my driving force, especially my parents who always keeps me motivated to fulfil my dreams and desires. I always wanted to become a successful business women by doing only ethical and fair trade business.”
Shruti wanted to do something of her own, make a difference and also prove that a woman does not have to compromise for anything in life simply for the reason that ‘she is a woman’. “I don’t see any reason why a man or a woman has to live by different rules when they both are or can be equally accomplished in life. I think this is the main reason that keeps me motivated,” she says.
With their own line of vegan products being launched end of this year, Address Chic will become a platform for the duo to share the products they believe in and take their dream to the next level.