This 23-year-old’s self-funded startup gives a trendy twist to abayas

By Athira Nair|4th Jun 2018
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Esha Gupta launched House of Zeniaa to provide modest wear for Muslim women who want to remain close to their religion and follow trends.

At a glance

Startup: House of Zeniaa

Founder: Esha Gupta

Year of launch: 2017

Where it is located: New Delhi

Sector: Fashion retail

Problem it solves: Trendy modest wear for Muslim women

Funding: Bootstrapped

Esha Gupta, 23, is an English honours graduate from Delhi University. The daughter of Dinesh Gupta, Chairman of Prabhatam Group, Esha worked with him in media and advertising after graduation. But eventually, she followed her real passion – fashion – and launched her brand, House of Zeniaa, in 2017.

Esha Gupta, Founder, House of Zeniaa

The self-funded startup aims to provide modest wear for today’s Muslim women who want to remain close to their religion and follow trends. Since the abaya category does not have any premium brand from India, this was a great opportunity to explore.

Zeniaa is a Muslim name that stands for flower. The name was chosen to make it easier for its target market to relate to the House of Zeniaa’s collection. After establishing itself in the modest wear segment, the brand added western contemporary wear as well.

The western wear collection targets women in the age group of 20-35 years; the modest wear collection targets the 25-40 age group. Prices range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 12,000, with an average of Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000.

Esha tells YourStory that House of Zeniaa is run by a small team of young women. “We believe in women’s empowerment and promote them as much possible,” she says.

Purple Pleated Yoke Maxi Abaya from the House of Zeniaa

New product for old consumer

 Abaya, hijab, burqa – these are all terms we are familiar with. So marketing the term “modest wear” in India was a major challenge for Esha. “We overcame this through seminars, by participating in events, and personally speaking to our niche audience at events, exhibitions etc. We work with multiple agencies to generate market data apart from regular surveys conducted at colleges like JNU,” she says.

According to Esha, surveys in colleges give the youth’s perspective. “Students think differently; they are more liberated and more experimental. Young Muslim girls were very keen and excited, hearing about these abayas. They were thrilled to know that they could be stylish yet modest,” she says, adding that they learnt a lot about price points and fabrics from the students.

“The weather in our country is such that we never launched a winter line for the abayas. Affordability plays a major role in our lines,” says Esha.

According to her, every new collection is largely based on feedback from previous clients. “We’ve got on-going surveys to achieve the most satisfactory results for the consumers,” she adds.

Growing strong

Headquartered in New Delhi, House of Zeniaa does not have much competition in India, Esha claims.

Blue Asymmetrical Draped Abaya from the House of Zeniaa

“Our competitors are the major modest wear brands present across the globe, like Modanisa. We are different from them as our label does not only focus on Muslim women; we also have a contemporary collection focusing on the woman of today. And we don’t just focus on the mass market, we look at customisation as per the likes of each individual,” she adds.

Delhi, being hugely populated with a trendy audience, provides a great advantage to the House of Zeniaa. It’s also easy to get raw materials and carry out the production. The House of Zeniaa has an in-house production system as well as tie ups with multiple manufacturing units.

With many fashion brands balancing their presence between online and offline channels, including Myntra’s Roadster and Zivame, House of Zeniaa also has an omni-channel model.

Online, House of Zeniaa is available at Islamic Shop, East Essence, Carma Online, Once upon a trunk, Madame me and Aprere. It also supplies online to the US, and plans to start manufacturing abroad soon.

House of Zeniaa’s collections are also available in multi-brand retail stores like Amara, Creo and M-store in Mumbai, one store at Raipur, Topaz in Ludhiana, Ajiliyaa and Theory in Surat, Kynaa at Gurgaon, and Gotraa in Indore. The brand is targeting the Malaysia and Philippines markets next, by collaborating with leading multi-designer outlets there. As part of domestic expansion, they are on the lookout for exclusive partners in Tier I and Tier II cities.

Zeniaa Black Sequined Abaya from the House of Zeniaa

The next step

Now growing with Rs 4 lakh per month in GMV, House of Zeniaa is open to getting strategic investors on board. “Metrics that matter to our business are majorly revenue and sales. Digital marketing analysis is something we pay attention to; cost per click (CPC) and cost per lead (CPL) help us move forward and take better decisions for our online spend,” Esha says.

Although offline stores offer a wide selection in modest wear, House of Zeniaa uses fabrics of good quality and offers interesting silhouettes. Keeping in mind the role that women play every day, House of Zeniaa’s western collection also includes A-line dresses and embellished tops for casual wear.

What next? By 2019, House of Zeniaa wants to establish itself as a modest wear brand in Malaysia and Philippines, and as a contemporary wear brand in India.