Neerja Lakhani is the co-founder of Inner Sense, an organic innerwear line made from a blend of organic cotton and fibre that are certified anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal. They are pretty and fashionable too.
With sustainable fashion being the new buzzword, it makes sense to extend the concept to everything you wear, including lingerie.
With this in mind, Neerja Lakhani launched Inner Sense in 2014, which she claims to be India’s first premium organic antimicrobial lingerie.
Inner Sense is the flagship brand of Green Ideology, an organic cotton and bamboo fibre manufacturing company founded by Neerja along with Abhishek Lodha.
Neerja has rich experience in the fashion-apparel sector. With a bachelor’s degree in Design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Gandhinagar, Neerja has worked in an export house and set up an organic women’s brand before. She has also been a part of the 100 most Influential Retail Leaders Listing by Asia-Africa GCC and was awarded the Women Leadership Achievement Award by WWLC in 2017.
Abhishek Lodha holds a Bachelor of Textiles (Textile Chemistry) from DKTE, Ichalkaranji, India. He c0-founded Green Ideology with Neerja in 2013. Abhishek also has considerable experience in the textile sector, having held senior positions in leading organisations, both in India and abroad.
Speaking of the pain point behind Inner Sense, Neerja explains, “India being a tropical country with a hot and humid climate, the chances of bacterial infections, odour, in the nether regions are more due to the sweat generated. There is no such ‘hygienic’ underwear available in the market, and this laid the foundation for our line of organic lingerie.”
“While the accent is on healthy, high-quality, anti-bacterial innerwear, we wanted our range to be pretty and fashionable too. Since we aim to make innerwear with sense, we came up with the name, Inner Sense,” she adds.
The brand was launched on Flipkart in February 2014, and within a couple of months, it was featured on all major ecommerce portals including Myntra and Jabong. “We are now selling on 18 websites in India and in four portals abroad. We also launched our own website to give customers a comfortable brand experience and also to let them buy directly from us,” informs Neerja.
Started with eight styles, Inner Sense now has more than 60 styles in primarily two products – brassieres and panties. It has padded, non-padded, wired, non-wired, cushioned bras in myriad colours and prints. The panties line has bikinis, thongs, boy shorts, and cheeky styles. The brand is also all set to launch a capsule collection of night/lounge wear.
Elaborating on the ‘organic’ concept, Neerja says: “All our products are made from a blend of organic cotton and fibre that is domestically certified to be anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal. They also have anti-odour properties, have three times stronger wicking capacity than the counterpart cotton with no pesticide or carcinogen used in the production process. Also, a fair price is given to the organic cotton farmer as compared to a conventional cotton farmer, thus helping in sustainable development of the whole ecosystem.”
Initially bootstrapped, the startup recently received Rs 50 lakh in debt funding from YES bank with the help of CrAdLE, an incubator started by Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII).
Inner Sense is for the woman who appreciates attractive styles but does not compromise on ease of wear, fit, and hygiene. The brand does not sacrifice style at the cost of sustainability.
According to Neerja, the raw material sourced in India itself is more expensive than non-organic cotton but Inner Sense’s lines fall in the mid-premium category that is easily affordable.
“Our biggest success is when we receive emails, calls from customers or reviews saying that they have switched from the brand they used to wear in favour of Inner Sense. Or when we receive appreciation from customers saying how Inner Sense products have changed their love-hate relationship with bras — from one of need but discomfort to a feeling of ease and comfort.”
Inner Sense works with a team of six and is looking forward to the future with a disruptive marketing plan that Neerja believes will change the way business is generated in the industry.
She notes it’s heartening to see more women join the startup scene. “If you are passionate enough and focussed, being a woman doesn’t make it difficult to start a business any more than being a man. In fact, there is more appreciation and support when you are from the ‘underdog’ gender,” she says, signing off.