This Delhi-based lingerie startup hopes to give women a shot of self-confidence
Aariz Nizam was determined to “give back to women who are the strength and backbones of the society.” When his love for travelling took him to Egypt and led him to discover various Nubian fabrics, Aariz turned to entrepreneurship by founding lingerie brand Azzaria – named after the Turkish word for freedom.
He tells HerStory that the idea is to promote self-confidence and freedom among women with a product that is comfortable to wear. Founded in February 2020, the Delhi-based lingerie startup has entered the promising market for women innerwear in India. Valued at around Rs 120 billion in 2018, the market is expected to reach Rs 275 billion in 2023, according to Statista.
The B2C startup is currently operating with a team of fewer than 50 people in accordance with social distancing norms and to ensure safety.
The brand has a quality control team at their office in Cairo that sources cotton from Egypt and collaborates with independent stylists and designers from London to design trendy innerwear.
The products are then locally produced at their manufacturing facility in Delhi-NCR. Priced between Rs 349 and Rs 1,199, the startup specialises in three different product variants: comfort bra, sports bra, and nursing bra for mothers.
Bootstrapped so far, it claims to be registering strong growth due to many repeat customers. As a young startup, it has focused on extensive digital marketing efforts to connect with prospective customers and create a brand presence.
The entrepreneur claims that Azzaria was one of the first lingerie startups to introduce a concept called ‘Free Flow Technology’. He explains, “The various cup sizes by different lingerie brands are confusing. Our solution is that we based all bras only on cup sizes B and D, but includes comfortable adjusting fibres which can easily fit all breast shapes.”
Aariz adds that this also sets the startup apart from other players in the market. He also shares that there is immense competition from established brands like Clovia, Jockey, and Enamor.
However, he hopes to bring unique designs from their team in London and make western trends and fashion easily accessible. The entrepreneur is also betting on his knowledge of and access to the cotton fabrics from Egypt.
Besides upland cotton (which is the most common type of cotton used), Azzaria says it also uses two higher-quality raw materials – Egyptian and Pima cotton.
“Egyptian cotton is classified as extra-long staple cotton which has longer and silkier fibres that can produce luxuriously soft and strong fabric,” he explains, adding that it was after learning about these fabrics that he moved to London to explore creative design opportunities to merge quality with fashion.
Market competition and challenges
Navigating the entrepreneurial path was not without challenges, especially when the economy was not in good shape due to the pandemic.
He says, “There has always been competition between the giants and it poses one of the biggest challenges for the survival of startup businesses. This competition gets tougher for ecommerce businesses. It can also be hard to determine if your company is on the right path.”
Another major challenge was hiring, which was time-consuming. Aariz says it is important to get essential and skilled people on board who can help the business not only survive but thrive. However, the entrepreneur believes that one does well by sticking to their values and principles.
Having started up just before coronavirus hit India’s shores, Azzaria could sharply feel the impact of COVID-19. The startup had to constantly deal with a lack of personnel, import bans, and the temporary shutdown of ecommerce activities, among other things.
Like in many other sectors, the COVID-19-induced lockdown has also halted its growth rate in the very initial stages. He shares, “It can be tempting to shut down and escape into hibernation due to the fear of illness or economic disaster, get engulfed in the hopelessness that the pandemic brings, and trap yourself in finding inadequate ways of blocking out the stress.”
However, the entrepreneur says the key lies in resilience, as well as technological and managerial innovations.
Edited by Kanishk Singh