This Pune-based startup delivers modern and artistic sarees with a blend of craftsmanship

Launched in June 2015 by husband-wife duo Pushkar Shukla and Akanksha Kanwal Shukla, the online portal Beatitude boasts a collection of handlooms, including handcrafted and handwoven sarees, dupattas, customised designer blouses, premium stoles, ethnic wear, and handmade jewellery.
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With an aim to promote Indian art and culture, husband-wife duo Pushkar Shukla and Akanksha Kanwal Shukla launched Beatitude in June 2015 as a luxury destination for handwoven, handcrafted, and designer sarees. 

“Handcrafted Indian sarees reflect the real spirit and warmth of the Indian culture, plus promoting it gives livelihood to Indian artisans,” Co-founder Pushkar tells YourStory.

Apart from handcrafted and handwoven sarees, Beatitude also sells dupattas, customised designer blouses, premium stoles, ethnic wear, and handmade jewellery. It primarily sells through its portal and offers a 30-day return/exchange policy along with free shipping on prepaid orders. 

Beatitude works with a GLOCAL approach, where it manufactures locally in India while being in sync with all the new global trends that are in vogue. It does so with the help of an in-house team of textile and fashion designers.

It sells online via its website, as well as through Instagram, Facebook and advertisements.

“Around 33.6 percent of our revenue comes from selling on social media, whereas 66.4 percent from the website. Over 51 percent of customers who purchase our products return to us,” Pushkar says.

The Inception

Beatitude was started when Pushkar and Akanksha realised that many modern-day women aspired for exclusive pieces, affordable designer wear, and wanted a touch of modernity to their sarees. 

“Then, most of the saree market was flooded with traditional designs and fake fabric descriptions, irrespective of its pricing. Through Beatitude, we tried to fill in this gap,” Akanksha, Co-founder at Beatitude, says.

“We do not want modern-day women to neglect traditional attire just because the variety available does not suit their personas, or they get cheated by fake local brands selling products in the name of handloom. We make sure that products we sell are best in quality parameters, doubly checked for quality, and are transparently described,” she adds.

At one end was the demand that the co-founders saw and at the other end was the plight of weavers. 

“The weavers were paid poorly, and their art was not reaching a larger audience. Thus, we launched Beatitude in 2015 to promote weavers, enable their families, and ensure that they got their worth,” Akanksha adds.

Promoting artisans and weavers

Beatitude is aiming to create a niche in a specific segment by delivering modern and artistic designs.

“We make sure that the barrier is crossed, and the weavers get the income directly. By giving their art a platform, we enable over 215 weavers and more than 692 artisans across Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh. Also, over 61 percent of our team members are women. We believe in women empowerment and promote more women to be self-dependent,” Pushkar says.

The startup has over 1,591 craft-specific weavers associated with it and are paid in advance on a project basis. The co-founders say the Beatitude team meets them and their families frequently to update their skill set and to ensure their well-being.

The team

Presently, Beatitude is a team of over 21 people in Pune head office, and 12 logistics managers in various zones in India.

Pushkar and Akanksha are the co-owners of the Beatitude brand. Pushkar takes care of strategic business and product development, financial, legal, and logistics aspects while Akansha takes care of the product selection, quality management, customer relationship, digital, and social marketing aspects. They jointly head creative conceptualisation and the innovation team.

After pursuing engineering in electronics, Pushkar worked in the IT sector for over three years and worked with clients such as Adidas, SwissRe etc across Europe and Germany. Afterwards, he pursued an MBA in marketing, and worked with top MNCs like British Telecom in Europe. 

Pushkar stayed in Europe and the UK for over eight years, after which he moved back to India. After returning, he joined a real estate firm in Pune as VP-Marketing, where the Chairman was a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, and had a lot to learn from. 

“I met Akanksha at one of the entrepreneurship programmes led by the Chairman,” Pushkar says.


The target group

Around 98.2 percent of the Beatitude clientele are women aged 25 – 58 years. 

“Beatitude products cannot be afforded by all income segments; we have a selective clientele with a minimum monthly income of Rs 80,000. The major cities of our clientele are – Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata etc,” Akanksha says.

Beatitude has over 3.17 lakh users, with a dominant presence in over 87 countries, including India, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, and the UAE.

“In terms of revenue, we were at Rs 33.01 lakh in the financial year 2016-17, in 2019 we achieved revenues of Rs 13.3 crore and presently we are already at Rs 25.1 crore in 2021-22 fiscal year,” says Pushkar.

“In the last six years, we have grown at an average rate of 1523 percent per annum. In terms of annual revenues, we achieved a growth factor of 40.2x within two-and-a-half years. Presently, we already are at a growth factor of 76.8, achieving a CAGR of 141.7 percent. Beatitude has ambitious growth plans for 2022-2023. With the recently introduced skin care vertical and strategic exclusive patented product developments, we look forward to a 318 percent growth in revenues in the fiscal year 2022,” he adds.

Challenges

Akanksha tells that there were two primary challenges. 

The first challenge for the startup was to make the audience understand that handloom/handcrafted products take more time compared to power loom or machine-made products, to manufacture and to get delivered at their doorsteps. 

“To overcome this challenge, we adopted one of the brand’s pillars i.e. complete transparency with our customers. The team used to educate buyers about the detail of work involved in making their masterpiece and thus, the time involved to ship the product at their doorsteps. Also, we were quite clear that only a specific segment could afford and understand the concept. After receiving the products, 96.2 percent of customers were more than happy to have waited,” she says.

The second big challenge was to manage cash flows. 

“We adopted two strategies: first was to give discounts on prepaid orders, and the second was to request raw material vendors to give us credit period,” Akanksha adds.

Market size and opportunities

In the women’s wear market, sarees are the most popular outfit in India. According to a recent report from Liva fluid fashion, the retail value of the women’s wear market in India is estimated to be around Rs 122,600 crore ($19.2 billion), of which sarees alone contributed nearly 33 percent. This segment has grown at a CAGR of 5-6 percent between 2018 to 2023, owing to increased demand from various segments. 

However, the Indian saree market is dominated by the rural market accounting for nearly 60 percent of the overall saree consumption. The revenue contribution from this segment is expected to remain much lower owing to the price of sarees being consumed in the segment. 

Beatitude has positioned itself quite dominantly in the 40 percent segment of the urban saree market. 

“Beatitude presently holds over 3.2 percent market share of handcrafted sarees, with a big horizon yet to explore. It has strategically adopted a demand-pull model by introducing unique designs and modern styling patterns which appeals to modern urban women. To capture the market aggressively, the brand is counting upon its strength of fabric designing to capture the increasing demand even more,” Akanksha says.

Beatitude counts FabIndia and Jaypore among its major competitors.

The startup’s average number of orders per month is 3,390, making it to 40,680 orders a year. 

“We have over 900 SKUs and most of them are unique designs. Over 70 percent of the products are designed by in-house fashion and textile designers who keep on innovating and creating unique concepts. Akanksha and I spend about 20 percent of our time with the designing team,” Pushkar says.

As the firm plans to multiply the revenues exponentially in various verticals, it plans to seek funding in near future. 

“Various funding institutes contacted us recently specifically seeking opportunities after COVID-19. However, we look forward to collaborating only with an institute that has got a good balance of strong fiscal and social credibility. At the time of inception six years ago, we infused approximately Rs 2.7 million from our savings,” Pushkar reveals.

Recently, Beatitude launched the ‘Utsava’ collection, where it has over 15 copyright designs on handwoven Kosa silk fabric. 

“With recent product and vertical developments in ‘Beatitude’, we are targeting more international expansion. Various re-sellers and stores have contacted us in the recent past but before exploring this opportunity, we want the supply chain, legal aspects, technological enhancements and all the processes to be structured,” he adds.


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Edited by Kanishk Singh

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