Meet Aneesha Labroo, an activewear entrepreneur using football to build a community and empower women

Aneesha worked as a brand strategist in New York before she returned to India to start her activewear brand, Kica. She is also using her brand to help women achieve their fitness goals and is building a community to help empower them.
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Aneesha Labroo was working in New York as a brand strategist when she noticed the surge in health and fitness centres. Every block had a new yoga studio, a new health fad came up every week and activewear stores were popping up by the minute. 

A health and fitness enthusiast herself, Aneesha found the lack of an Indian activewear disconcerting. 

Kica Founder, Aneesha Labroo

However, this turned into a business opportunity when she moved back to India in September 2016. 

After four years at two different advertising agencies in the Big Apple, Aneesha decided it was time for her to do something on her own. 

On her return to India, she conducted a full-fledged marketing study on the activewear market in the country. She identified a gap in the market for “high quality, stylish products at an affordable price point”. 

Kica was born in 2017 to address this gap in the market. 

Building her own brand

Aneesha went to the US to study Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She moved to New York and worked at Strawberry Frog, a small boutique advertising agency and then moved to Young & Rubicam. 

“Building a brand from scratch is what I loved about my work the most,” says the 28-year-old entrepreneur.

From building a brand for others to building her own brand, Aneesha has certainly come a long way. 

Before starting up, she had decided she would venture into an industry that she was passionate about. Fitness has always been a part of her life, she says. Growing up she played endless amounts of football; nowadays she enrols into rigorous three-month weight programmes. 

How is Kica different?

The fitness industry is teeming with several players and Anessha admits it’s been challenging to start up in this scenario.

“There are tonnes of brands out there with the same goal - providing activewear to the mass market. Some do not compromise on quality, and the price points are on the higher side. Others keep their prices extremely low, but the quality is such that they don’t last for more than a few wears. I think the biggest challenge is communicating to consumers what our USP is and why they should pick us over XYZ.”

Aneesha says that there is no compromise on quality at Kica and the idea is also to keep the brand affordable. The price range start at Rs 750 and caps off at Rs 2,800. 

Aneesha explains, “Our average price is Rs 1,200. We are constantly working towards keeping this price point low so that we can cater to a wider market. We want women of all backgrounds to be able to afford Kica.”

Kica uses different fabrics throughout its collections, depending upon the season and the purpose of the garment. It claims that their fabrics - which are produced as per the yarn, weight, and desired texture - are  lightweight and ultra-stretchable. Aneesha points out that their fabrics are chosen based on suitability for the Indian climate, fitting that works for the Indian body, and a style that makes women feel confident.

 “Our customers come to our store or chat with us online and ask for specific designs, or tell us what they are looking for. When we see a trend, we do a bit more digging into as to why they are looking for something of this kind, and if we find a promising insight, we proceed to sample the product and eventually, make it a part of our collection,” she says. 

They have an interesting way of checking the samples before sending it for manufacturing, which they have outsourced. The team wears the sample for a full day, through a workout, and after a wash before it is finalised to be in the collection. 

Building a community of women empowering women

Realising the potential of sport in building a community and seeing the opportunity it provides to help empower women, Kica will soon launch ‘The Kica Women’s Football League’. 

Aneesha says, “Never underestimate the power of a sport. Never think it’s “too late” to learn something new. Realise that 80+ empowered women can create a stronger movement than any brand can.”

Kica Women's Football League

“At the heart of the Kica Women’s Football League is the aim to help women empower women by creating a community of women of all ages and walks of life that support and motivate each other to stay healthy and fit, through football,” says Aneesha. She is hoping to make is a regular event. 

The league aims to provide a boost to amateur football in Delhi. It wants to show women that achieving physical fitness can be fun. Along with physical fitness, it wants to contribute towards skills like confidence, mental toughness, initiative and most significantly, peer bonding, she adds. 

Currently, 82 girls have signed up for the league and have been drafted into six teams. The league is open to women of all ages, and the matches will be hosted every Sunday from February 2 till March 8 at the Conscient Sports Arena in New Delhi.

Future plans

The bootstrapped company attracts women of all age groups - from 14 to 55, and backgrounds. Through its online presence and offline activities such as pop-up events, it has expanded beyond urban centres to tier II and tier III cities as well. 

Kica products are available on its own website, and ecommerce sites like Amazon, Nykaa, Flipkart and others. The products are also available at its store in DLF Promenade, kiosk at the Lodhi Hotel, through different Sports Station stores across India. It also does long and short-term events at studios/gyms in Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ludhiana, and Visakhapatnam. 

(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)