This sustainable apparel brand wants women to know it is always ‘summer somewhere’
For Meghna Goyal and her friends, preparing a travel wardrobe was always as exciting as planning for their annual vacation from the get-go, as they sourced outfits that were sustainable, vacation-friendly, and affordable.
For a trip to Bali in December 2018, the search for the ideal outfit began with a lot of planning.
Meghna Goyal, Founder of Summer Somewhere (Image credit: Meghna Goyal's Instagram account)
“We were curating looks for drinks, for the beach, and for sightseeing, but I didn’t want to shop from Zara, H&M and the likes. I looked for unique and responsible places. That is when I thought of taking the plunge and addressing the gap myself,” she recalls.
As soon as tickets were confirmed a month or two before the trip, Meghna tried sampling products, combining her love for fashion and travel, which became the genesis for Summer Somewhere.
“Traveling is therapeutic when things get difficult. And just thinking of the fact that it is always summer somewhere gives you that sense of relief.”
This venture also marked Meghna’s transition from being a conscious consumer to conscious entrepreneur.
Meghna grew up in a family of textile entrepreneurs, with her father in garment exports for over four decades, and her mother being a boutique owner. However, she always dreamt of having a secure job, and aspired to be a marketing professional. She completed her Bachelors in Mass Media from the University of Mumbai, and Masters in Integrated Marketing from the New York University.
“In 2017, I returned to India due to visa-related problems, and was hunting for a marketing job. After two full-time jobs as a brand consultant and design director, I longed for 100 percent ownership on projects and in everything I did, so entrepreneurship seemed like the right choice,” she says.
Having started with an initial investment of Rs 15 lakhs, it took one year for Meghna to finetune 15 products and officially launch Summer Somewhere in December 2019. The brand offers a range of sustainable clothing, priced between Rs 1590 and Rs 5590.
Products by Summer Somewhere
Meghna worked as a one-woman army for a long time, managing everything from website maintenance to designing, and dealing with vendors to set the production work in motion. “At this point, after all that experience, I can work as a web developer as well,” she jokes.
As an entrepreneur, she wants to ensure the products have repeat value, and have utility beyond vacations to everyday casual and outdoor wear.
Sold primarily on its website, the brand gains most traction from social media engagements. “It has been a great push to gain brand visibility. A lot more people are spending time on social media as they are now spending more time indoors during the pandemic, and that is where we spend most of the time and effort in terms of marketing.
COVID-19 and other challenges
As COVID-19 sent all of India into a lockdown in March 2020, the apparel brand was stranded with zero revenue for three to four months. Although customer engagement went up and they began placing orders, the business came to a standstill due to lack of viable delivery options.
The entrepreneur says the COVID-19 impact was disheartening to her team of four, to the extent that they felt moving ahead was not a good idea. But, as operations resumed, the business broke even, and registered an annual revenue of Rs 75 lakh in the current financial year.
Initially, starting up also came with a lot of criticism that included others pointing out that it is a done and dusted idea, and that the brand is not size inclusive and expensive. ‘Large’ is the biggest size available at Summer Somewhere at the moment.
Commenting on the inclusivity of all body types, Meghna says, “It is a game of demand really. Now as clothes in bigger sizes are selling quickly, we know there is a demand and hence, we plan to launch in bigger sizes like XL and XXL in the coming months.”
Meghna also highlights that the apparel industry is highly male dominated, especially behind the scenes like production, and despite the times, continues to be a difficult space for a woman entrepreneur like herself.
“Even though I had access to fabric suppliers and printers through my parents, I had to take things forward by myself. But many of them would not take me seriously because I was a young woman. I had to ask my father to intervene. I know for a fact that had I been a man handling the production, my work would be done a lot quicker,” she shares.
Bootstrapped so far, 90 percent of Summer Somewhere’s sales take place in India, while the remaining 10 percent is driven internationally. Meghna’s focus is to increase her international footprint to at least 25 percent in the next two years. She hopes to stock the products in smaller boutiques in New York, California, Berlin, and London soon.
As she tests the water for the international expansion, the entrepreneur believes, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.”