Stitch by stitch, Farida Gupta is growing her label and upskilling marginalised women
Ethnicwear label Farida Gupta, which promotes hand embroidery and block printing, clocked an annual turnover of $2 million last year and now plans to set up four stores in the metros.
The Indian apparel market is flooded with offerings for women. But among the many brands one stands out due to its focus on hand work. Farida Gupta, a Delhi-based ethnicwear label, known for its exquisite hand embroidery and traditional block prints, has grown significantly in the last few years.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Farida moved to New Delhi to pursue her Master’s in French Translation and Interpretation from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1987. After completing her post-graduation, she got married and settled in Delhi as a homemaker. However, her love for artisanal and indigenous crafts led her to design apparel two decades ago. After spending five years in the fashion industry, she launched her own label ‘Farida Gupta’ in 2011.
When she started out, Farida’s sole focus on hand embroidery and block prints came with a challenge. She started by training women in hand embroidery at a small home-run training centre. Today, the label that started with only two women workers has grown into a small chain.
“Initially, I had to do a lot of research to figure out India’s artisanal centres where traditional skills of dyeing, weaving and hand block printing were practised and promoted,” says Farida, the brand’s founder.
The label, which offers kurtas, short tops, dresses, farsi pants, shararas, lounge pants and dupattas, aims to help women from marginalised sections of society earn a better livelihood by employing and upskilling them.
“Employing for hand embroidery also meant being able to provide employment to women who had till now never been given the opportunity to be economically independent,” Farida says.
The company has also employed head field girls to collect and deliver projects to women who live in a predominantly patriarchal culture in the deepest alleys of Delhi villages, helping them generate their own income from the comfort of their homes.
Focus on ensuring customer delight
Farida highlights that customer delight has always been a core emphasis for the brand and ensuring quality products is the first step towards this mission.
The brand has its own office-cum-manufacturing facility in Delhi, where all products are manufactured in-house. A robust quality checking process, involving fabric, raw materials, initial samples, in-line machine, initial product and final product checks, ensures that quality never suffers. A second check of the readied goods is done before they are dispatched.
Farida Gupta also has a dedicated customer service department for addressing customer grievances and queries. It aims to enhance customer delight and strengthen operational stability, leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence.
Creating a niche in the market
A report, Growth of the Indian Ethnic Wear Market, by research firm Technopak reveals that the women’s segment currently accounts for an overwhelming 87 percent of the total ethnic wear market at Rs 54,425 crore. “Growth of this segment will continue to drive the overall sector,” the report says.
Anticipating huge growth in this segment, the space is flooded with popular labels, including W, Biba, Fabindia and Aurelia, among others.
Amid the many players, Farida Gupta aims to stand out with its sole focus on block prints and hand embroidery.
Sahil Gupta, Business Head at Farida Gupta, says: “Not every brand in the ethnic wear space is concentrating on just these two things – block prints and hand embroidery. The label’s other big differentiator is that we design all the merchandise, blocks and prints in-house so as to give our products a distinct look and identity.”
The road ahead
The label is currently bootstrapped and has no fundraising plans for now. Going ahead, the brand is eyeing a global launch through its website by December 2017 and also plans to set up four flagship stores in the metros over the next two years. It also plans to expand its product line, and is contemplating a night wear section soon.
Farida Gupta clocked an annual turnover of $2 million last year, a 400 percent increase in revenues compared to the year before that. The business is backed by a team of 30 employees, including two designers and the manufacturing staff.
With an aim to revamp the brand’s identity, the label shut down its three offline stores in 2015 and is currently offering products under its own sales channels through its website and solo exhibitions across different Indian cities.
“While exhibitions were always the company’s cash cow, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in footfall and sales because of the omni-channel effect of simultaneously promoting our brand through digital,” Sahil says.
Clothes make the man, goes an old saying. But at Farida Gupta, they’re helping make style statements for some women and transforming the future for others.