How a business analyst became a fashion entrepreneur and went on to collaborate with Radhika Apte
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Rashi Menda took the route of a career in finance, and joined Ernst & Young where she worked in the Tax department for two years.
However, she soon realised a corporate job was not for her and became intrigued by the idea of startups and joined Prime Ventures as an analyst. Later, she joined an incubate of Prime Ventures – Unamia – as the head of marketing channels.
Fashion for millennials
The leap from employee to entrepreneur was a big one for Rashi, but it was in a space she had always been interested in.
“Being a fashion addict, I saw a massive gap in the shopping experience of Indian millennials, which led to the birth of Zapyle. People get confused with options. Zapyle helps millennial women narrow their choices and make decisions quick and simple,” she says.
“One look at our fashion options today, and you'll notice, there's not much for the stylish, confident woman of today. Sure, the markets are teeming with international fast-fashion names, but are they made keeping Indian women in mind? More importantly, the body type? The Indian body is of a beautiful, unique proportion, and creating garments to flatter it is, well, not everybody's playing field,” she adds.
With this in mind, Rashi and Zapyle launched their first private label in 2019 – IS.U – a portmanteau of “is you” – a brand that the founder claims is centred around “girl bosses, who are always on the go, and want to look stylish without putting in too much time”.
Before launching the brand, Rashi conducted extensive research on the Indian female size, and came up with three things that really mattered while catering to their tastes – fit, fabric, and finish.
“We realised those are simply all the ingredients it took to make the perfect clothes for women who are constantly on the run and want to look stylish and trendy at all times.”
A fruitful collaboration
Radhika Apte collaborates with IS.U
Another important ethos the brand wanted to reflect was the empowered woman. Zapyle’s merchandise carries slogans such as “Fight Like A Girl” and “Empowered Women Empower Women”, while the packaging boldly states “The clothes inside won’t change the world, but a woman who wears it will.”
Communication was something that Rashi has taken great pains in to stand out from other brands. And her collaborations are in sync with this.
“Our audience is young, ambitious, confident millennial women, and they are looking to get inspired by influencers who are authentic, candid, and approachable. It was an easy choice for us to collaborate with Radhika Apte and create a collection with IS.U,” says Rashi.
The collection has over 100 styles, with a little bit of retro in prints, cuts, and fits, and Radhika Apte believes it is an extension of self-love.
The actor said, “When I read about IS.U and the message it stands for, I knew this was the brand I wanted to associate myself with. IS.U’s ideologies instantly matched with mine. In a world that is obsessed with perfection, it is important that we don't succumb to the unrealistic standards set by society. We do not realise that it is not about breaking the norm; it is about creating the norm. This project is extremely close to my heart as it stands for self-acceptance, self-love and embracing oneself, wholly.”
Stylish and affordable
Rashi works with a team of designers, helping with their mood boards, and direction. The brand, while aiming to create styles for all, also takes inspiration from fashion trends of the 70s and the 80s.
IS.U is in partnership with manufacturing units that also manufacture for international brands like Zara, Dorothy Perkins, Coast, Warehouse, etc.
It has two lines – IS.U love, an athleisure collection that ranges from Rs 800 to Rs 1,400, and IS.U, a more fashionable and statement collection that ranges from Rs 1,490 to Rs 3,290.
Both are available on isufashion.com along with an exclusive collection on Zapyle.com. IS.U is also available on all major ecommerce channels like Myntra, Ajio, Amazon, Limeroad, TataCliq, and others.
According to Rashi, the various challenges in the journey has been to understand different body types in India, getting the fits and patterns 100 percent right, and increasing width than just depth in styles of larger visibility.
Despite the roadblocks, she says that the brand’s biggest successes have been partneships, identifying key people early on and growing the business.
While Zapyle had planned to start selling offline this year, it had to put these plans on hold due to the current COVID-19 crisis.
In light of the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, all operations of Zapyle and IS.U are currently shut, but the founder claims that they are still receiving orders on their websites, which will be delivered once the lockdown is lifted.