A NIFT alumnus, Deepa Pant bid adieu to her long flourishing career in the fashion industry. With her fashion brand Svatanya, she now trains underprivileged women, helping them live with dignity.
After 13 years of a corporate career in the apparel industry, something made Deepa Pant stop to rethink – “Is this my true calling?” She gradually realised that after all these years, she had evolved as a person and a professional, and most importantly as a compassionate human being.
“That is when I launched Svatanya to do my bit for improving lives, to grow as a person, and take along deserving women, who needed support to live independently,” reveals Deepa Pant, Founder of Svatanya.
Launched in 2013, Delhi-based Svatanya offers two fashion labels – Amaryn (for women) and My Munchkin (for infants and kids). Amaryn’s product range includes dresses, tops and skirts, whereas My Munchkin has apparel, bags, soft toys and other accessories for the little ones.
Svatanya also offers products on made-to-order basis that are customised as per customer requirement. A few of the tailor-made products include ensemble sets for babies with coordinated top, bottom and booties, reversible waist coats for children, coordinated sets for siblings, moms, and children. The brand doesn’t have any offline presence and is selling through e-commerce portals like worldcommunity.com, stylemylo.com and mybabycart.com.
As a social enterprise, Svatanya aims to empower underprivileged women by training them to make handcrafted products, which are later sold under its in-house labels, Amaryn and My Munchkin.
“Inducting and training the first few women was the real challenge. Still, as we progressed not only did we evolve with time, but the concept also spread through word of mouth and the existing workforce started bringing in more women. It was almost like a referral policy,” recalls Deepa.
How Svatanya is doing its bit for the society
Besides working on empowering underprivileged women, Svatanya recently launched an initiative to distribute soft toys to underprivileged kids who are differently abled, suffering from ailments, or living in slums. The initiative works on a crowdfunding model under Amaryn Care, serving the two-pronged strategy of providing regular work to women in addition to spreading joy and cheer among the underprivileged kids.
For her socially-responsible vision, Deepa recently won the WE-Innovation Award at the Think Big conference, Asia’s largest platform for women empowerment.
To market its products, Svatanya has joined hands with corporates to conduct roadshows, and it also participates in exhibitions. It has launched Amaryn Care (social initiatives arm) and is working together with organisations, with similar ethos, to increase its reach to many more underprivileged children and to provide work to women.
Though the fashion industry today is overcrowded with brands — be it the online or offline entry of several international brands in the Indian market — Deepa doesn’t seem worried about competition. She believes that her brand works on an innovative business model that is self-sustainable, environmentally conscious, and socially impactful. She is away from the rat race of the fashion industry.
The journey so far
Deepa recalls that Svatanya’s journey started with just two enthusiastic apprentices who were keen to train and learn. Today, the company has come a long way and has trained more than 40 women since its inception, and 25 of them work regularly with the firm.
“The first set of women came to us through my mom who teaches underprivileged kids in an NGO school. She realised that the mothers who used to come to pick up their kids were keen to work and had some basic stitching skills, thanks to the traditional Indian expectation from girls to know how to stitch and sew,” adds Deepa.
As the number of women who joined them increased, Deepa’s mother, Neelam Mohan, started to play an active role in running the social enterprise. She manages training schedules, coordinates with the women for roles and responsibilities, looks after raw material allocation, inventory control, and is on a continuous lookout to get more underprivileged women onboard.
Furthermore, the team has chosen women, who have been with the organisation for a long enough time, and trained them to double as managers who handle different aspects of production like stitching, crochet and handiwork in their working groups.
Sneak peek into Svatanya’s future plans
The startup is bootstrapped and has no plans to raise funds for now. In terms of growth, the brand achieved break-even within the first two years of its inception and despite market fluctuations due to demonetisation, it managed a growth of 25-30 percent last year.
“This year again GST has impacted business but fortunately we have been able to weather the storm. With an expanded line of products, increased market presence and brand recognition, we are looking at closing this year as one of our best years so far,” highlights Deepa.
With Svatanya, Deepa wants touch as many lives as possible across the country. To fulfil the vision, she aims to replicate Svatanya’s model across India, and bring more underprivileged women under its umbrella.
The brand has also catered to some clients in the international market and hopes to explore the international handcrafted products market soon.