With Rs 35,000 investment this woman entrepreneur built a Rs 10 Cr business
Delhi-based Anaya Collections, founded by Rachna Bawa, produces premium scarves and stoles that are a huge hit in international markets like the US, Canada, and Switzerland.
Growing up in Bulandshahr, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, Rachna Bawa was quite popular for her keen sense of fashion. She would buy cheap fabrics, design her outfits, and get them stitched from the local tailors. Soon, people began noticing what she wore and complimented her for her style.
This was the beginning of a dream for this small-town girl who would one day make it big in the fashion business.
Rachna went on to do a course in Computer Aided Design (CAD) from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), and joined an export house in New Delhi soon after.
Learning the ropes
It was in the mid-90s, and Rachna asked for a starting salary of Rs 4,500. The couple running the export house promised Rs 4,000, and an increase if she did well.
“I was happy with my job as I was learning very fast. Soon, I learnt the ropes in every department and even got a cabin of my own. Once, we were participating in a show, and my boss couldn’t quite get the stall design right. I pitched in and we won award for the best design. The best part was I was asked to receive the award from the then textile minister, and that was a real high,” she says.
In about four to five years, she was itching for a change, and so Rachna moved to a small setup that dealt in scarves and stoles. Soon, she decided the time was right for her to strike it out on her own.
And that’s how Anaya Collections began - in a PG room - and Rachna invested Rs 35,000 from her savings. By now, she had found her niche – scarves and stoles. She bought some fabric and got a few karigars to embellish her designs with fine embroidery and other intricate work.
“My husband, who I was seeing at that time, was also my local guardian as he was also a friend of the family. His Maruti Zen doubled up as my office as I went around trying to procure orders. In my room, my bed box served as the storage space for my fabrics,” she recalls.
Capturing India and the world
Soon, Rachna started getting orders, and registered Anaya as a company in 2004 in Delhi. She was soon supplying to high-end boutiques like Heritage and East India Company.
“The scarves were made out of silk and pashmina, which were quite popular at that time. I embellished them with beads, feathers, laces, and other accessories to make them stand out in the market,” she explains. Each piece sells between $80 and $400.
After three years, Rachna rented a small basement in Defence Colony as her workplace. She began travelling to many cities, and soon her contacts grew through word-of-mouth.
Rachna also remembers designing a customised scarf for Mrs Vijayaraje Scindia (of the Gwalior royal family). Soon, the business grew, and so did her clientele, office space, and her team that now has close to 100 people.
Today, Anaya Collection is present in the UK, Europe, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and China, besides Canada and the US as well, with a 100 percent export oriented design studio selling to big brands and department stores all over the world.
Rachna’s husband also works along with her and handles the marketing side of the business.
“There have been many challenges along the way. I had to travel for an exhibition when my younger son was only 12 days old. Balancing my personal and professional life is not easy. But I am thankful for the support from my family at all times,” she adds.
From Rs 35,000, Anaya has now grown into a Rs 10 crore company, and Rachna is raring to go.
“I always aspired to be a big designer, and feel my best is yet to come. Once my children grow, my plan is to open a retail store, preferably in Delhi, have my own shows, and these will give me the high I seek as an entrepreneur,” she says.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
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