Meet the woman entrepreneur whose love for fashion made her start up in her 50s
Sukriti Chopra has been a teacher all her life. But a love for fashion in her younger years led her to start her eponymous label, SYS by Sukriti, which offers Indian, Indo-Western and bridalwear collections.
During her college days in Delhi, Sukriti Chopra dabbled in modelling for a while. That’s when her interest in fashion took shape. After completing her bachelor’s degree in English Honours, she worked in the fashion industry for some time, and also designed her own clothes.
But fate willed otherwise. She got married, and keen to spend more time with her daughter, chose a career in teaching.
“I taught in some of the best schools in the country, but teaching was never what I planned on doing. But it was my choice to ensure that I got maximum, undivided time with my daughter. I taught history and English to primary school children and enjoyed it. I have taught in some of the best schools in North India, such as Delhi Public Schools and Cambridge Schools, both in Dehradun and Delhi,” she recalls.
From teaching to starting up
After moving to Mumbai in 2009, Sukriti stopped teaching. Her only involvement with fashion was when she designed clothes for her daughter till she was in her teens, while continuing to design her own.
Once her daughter completed her education and started working, Sukriti realised it was time to follow her heart and pursue her passion.
“I have to admit there was a little fear in starting up in a career that I had been out of for over two decades. But with a lot of encouragement from my family, I finally took the plunge. And I have not regretted it even for a moment,” she says.
So around two-and-half-years ago, when Sukriti was 51, she converted her living room into a workspace, hired a master and two tailors, and started SYS by Sukriti.
For the modern Indian woman
Sukriti is a self-taught designer but was confident enough to launch diverse collections that included Indian, Indo-Western, Gowns, and Bridal.
“Our collections are designed for the modern Indian woman who is as comfortable in a saree, as in a gown. We have the same outlook for our male clientele as well. The designs range from pure ethnic to fusion; our focus is as much on design and exclusivity as it is on comfort,” she says.
The entrepreneur says she offers customised designs apart from her own fashion line. She begins with a general idea of what clients wants and then experiments.
“I cultivate an idea into a garment, selecting only the best fabrics and embroidery designs. For my own line, I start with a story and move on to selecting fabrics that would best tell the story. From there, we create every unique piece. I am also starting to create lines for large-format stores that cater to people of all budgets,” she says.
She also takes orders for weddings where the bride and bridesmaids often want to wear the same outfits. She has done 30 to 50 pieces of the same styles, in varied sizes for weddings, and delivered to different cities.
Many ideas up her sleeve
Sales for the brand happen through partnerships with multi-designer stores across the country, apart from portal clients. Sukriti has also done a lot of work for B2B portals in the Middle East.
Sukriti designs most of the collections from home, and has a manufacturing unit for production. Currently her unit has one master and four tailors.
The brand was recently invited to design for Miss Eco International, a pageant in Egypt.
Its collections were also showcased at different fashion shows, and Sukriti is preparing for more in the coming year.
Sukriti began with an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh, and the founder says the brand is yet to break even. She’s hopeful of reaching profitability in 2020.
“I would love to expand the brand and make it a household name. A range of footwear and accessories is also on the cards, somewhere in the back of my mind, at a later date. I am always looking for more and new multi-designer stores across the country. I also want to open my own store in a few years,” Sukriti says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)