From a bootstrapped garage brand to a Rs 2.5 Cr fashion house - how this woman entrepreneur from Surat found success
Suruchi Parakh, Founder, Suruchi Parakh Couture
Founded in 2015, Suruchi Parakh Couture makes Indo-Western bridal wear and outfits for special occasions. Based in Surat, it caters to both customised orders and provides ready-to-wear sets from its lookbooks.
Suruchi, 28, says the unique colour combinations and attention to detail set the label apart.
The design house employs 80 craftsmen from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and West Bengal, who create the garments and embroidery from scratch. It also sources fabrics from Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Customers can purchase clothing from Suruchi Parakh Couture either at the store in Surat or online, through its Instagram page. Suruchi says the official website is underway, and should be operational soon. The outfits are priced at an average of Rs 22,000.
The company is fully bootstrapped but is open to funding in the future.
The route to entrepreneurship
Born and raised in Ahmedabad, Suruchi Parakh has always had an eye for colour and detail. As a child, she took various painting lessons, and even sold her first piece of art at the age of 10. She was in grade VI when she set her mind towards fashion design, and hasn’t looked back since.
Suruchi kicked off her career in fashion design in 2011 when she got the opportunity to work with designer Varun Bahl while studying at NIFT - Gandhinagar. After graduating from the university in 2012, she travelled to Italy for a year, as part of a training programme.
There, she collaborated with a few Italian designers, and gave their designs a touch of Indian glamour. Upon returning to India in 2013, she worked with Jinaam, a Surat-based label, as their head designer.
However, despite these rewarding experiences, Suruchi wasn’t happy with her line of work.
“People want designer clothes which are also affordable, and because of this, there is a lot of mass-manufacturing that happens. But I realised that the mass market was definitely not what I was looking for, and decided to start my own brand.”
From garage brand to luxury design house
When Suruchi first began working on her brand, she had just one tailor who would help her with cutting and stitching the garments, and would outsource the embroidery work. She also used most of her earnings to pay the tailor and workers. She operated out of a small garage for around six months, but as business began picking up, she was able to move into a larger space.
“Since I am very detail-oriented, I wasn’t willing to compromise on the products. I hired a few more people to work at the garage, and eventually had a team of around 15 people. But the space wasn’t large enough to accommodate all of us. So, we decided to move out.”
Today, the 80-member team works in a space measuring 4,000 sq ft, and Suruchi says this has been good enough for them to run the label comfortably. In early 2018, she also launched her flagship store in Surat, separate from the production house.
Some of the designs at the store
She initially faced the challenge of stabilising the finances and organisational structure, but has learned how to navigate better through the years.
When it comes to volume, the brand produces around 200 new designs every three months, and catered to over 2,500 customers in 2018. She reaches new clients through the brand’s Instagram page, as well as by setting up promotional stalls at various exhibitions.
In 2018, Suruchi Parakh Couture earned revenue of a whopping Rs 2.5 crore, which according to Suruchi, is a 26 percent jump from the previous year.
The brand has also catered to a few celebrity clients such as South Indian actors Sukrutha and Manvitha.
Running a company, making sure everything is in order, keeping employees happy, and customers satisfied can get overwhelming at times. It’s important to identify the things that keep you motivated, and for Suruchi, it’s her passion.
“I’m a workaholic. I absolutely love the work I do. Even if someone asks me to work in the middle of the night, I’m up for it.”
She also stays on her toes because she feels responsible for the welfare of her 80 employees, as well as their families, because many of the craftsmen are the sole breadwinners of their households.
Suruchi with some of her employees
The best part of her job, Suruchi says, is seeing happy customers, especially brides who are overwhelmed with the brand’s creations for their special days.
When it comes to inspiration, Suruchi looks up to the work of designer Anamika Khanna because her style is “very subtle and very classy” and incorporates different kinds of cuts and silhouettes. She also admires the work of Tarun Tahiliani.
The next steps
In the next couple of years, Suruchi aims to open up more stores, in either Ahmedabad or Mumbai. Recently, her husband also joined the company, and together they plan to expand, strengthen the brand’s structure, and its presence in the fashion industry.
To other women who aspire to run their own fashion brands, Suruchi has some solid advice.
“Don’t wait for the ‘right moment.’ If you want to do it, put in the right kind of effort and positivity, and I’m sure you will be able to achieve whatever you want!”
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)