[Startup Bharat] This fashion ecommerce startup curates undiscovered, Made in India brands

Pune-based sisters Shabna and Shaiba Salam launched fashion and lifestyle ecommerce platform Maneraa in 2019. The startup aims to shine the spotlight on small, unbranded fashion and lifestyle retailers.

The Italian word “maniera” translates into “style” and “manner” in English. It was the word that sisters Shabna  and Shaiba Salam took inspiration from when they launched their lifestyle and fashion ecommerce platform Maneraa in 2019.

The Pune-based ecommerce startup is an omnichannel platform that is “made in India, made for India”. The founders, realising that fashion was no longer the domain of the urban elite, decided to focus on youth in Tier II and III cities with their curated platform.

“Maneraa will craft a space in the ecommerce market, letting buyers choose from hundreds of brands with new designs created by talented yet unrecognised designers from around the country,” says Shabna, Co-Founder and Director, Maneraa.

She explains that their concept is to recognise the potential of small, unbranded fashion and lifestyle retailers, to help them manage quality, and to give them an opportunity to share their unique products with the India-wide market on an online platform.

With its headquarters in Pune and an office in Kochi, Maneraa has a team of 15 people, working towards building a platform that bridges the gap between aspiration and access, for both buyers and sellers, and stands tall amidst the likes of Myntra, Nykaa Fashion, Limeroad, Amazon Fashion, and others.

Increased internet penetration and smartphone usage have led to a significant rise in first-time online shoppers, especially in the non-metros and Tier II and III cities. Maneraa is looking forward to extending its reach to those first-time online shoppers,” Shabna says.

In the beginning

Shabna, a dentist by profession, and Shaiba, a commerce graduate, quit their jobs in 2019 when they got an opportunity to be a part of a Dubai-based online aggregator for Indian ethnic fashion.

While working with that firm, the sisters came across a lot of smaller brands and retailers that lacked market exposure despite India’s ecommerce boom.

Shabna claims about 70 percent of the $100 billion Indian fashion retail space comprises unorganised and unbranded retailers, smaller brands, and unknown designers. They either have no online presence or get lost among the bigger names on large platforms.

“We realised there was an untapped opportunity in this space. We thought why don’t we create a platform in India for these smaller brands and budding designers, and give them an opportunity to display their unique collections and compete with bigger brands,” Shabna says. 

The sisters immediately started figuring out the way forward. They knew they needed sophisticated technology to compete with the likes of Amazon and Myntra.

They researched and spoke to family and friends, and finally joined hands with a family friend, Prince Jose, their technology partner who helped build the Maneraa platform.

The fashion startup aims to provide shoppers uniqueness and exclusivity in their wardrobe through “beautiful designer wear that does not come with a hefty price tag”. It offers traditional, fusion, and western wear, and an array of accessories and lifestyle products.

Business model and funding

Like other ecommerce players, Maneraa works on a commission basis on sales.

The startup has more than 80 sellers listed on its platform with over 9,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs). The company aims to onboard over 500 unique sellers to cater to more than two million buyers across India by 2021

Maneraa has completed about 10,000 orders across cities such as Kochi, Bengaluru, Pune, Trivandrum, Calicut, and others in the last couple of months.

The sisters have bootstrapped the startup with seed investment of Rs 1 crore so far, but are now looking for funding to scale operations and support the growth they are planning in 2021.

“Right now, we are concentrating on a few South Indian cities including metros, Tier I, II, and beyond. Over the next couple of months, we want to extend our presence to more cities. We want to be a shopping haven for all those who need new outfits at affordable rates,” Shabna says. 

Edited by Teja Lele