This woman entrepreneur gave an eco-friendly, millennial spin to a winter wear business started after Partition
Yuktie Jhangiani Verma recalls spending most of her time after school and college at Davidson’s, a made-to-order winter clothing brand that her grandfather started in Bombay (as it was called then) when he arrived there from Pakistan in 1947 after Partition.
Over the last one and half decades, the business was carried on by her mother.
Now, Yuktie is carrying the torch forward, having rebranded the company as Kosha and catering to the millennial generation’s taste through affordable eco-friendly winter wear.
“Entrepreneur is a very recent term. I always knew I was going to take the business forward. It was never so much about becoming an entrepreneur as it was about taking the legacy forward,” Yuktie tells HerStory.
Yuktie did have an entrepreneurial epiphany that made her more resolute in taking the business forward.
During a trip from Manali to Chardigarh in October several years ago, she says she “didn't realise how cold it was till I stepped out of the car and as the cold hit me, I dashed to pull on winter clothing. What I still remember from that day is realising the fact that warmth is priceless. And so, winter wear came to resemble something noble”.
Tapping the millennial audience
Yuktie believes that the focus on winter wear sustained because of their family’s shared love for travel and adventure.
By establishing Kosha (meaning layers in Sanskrit) in 2017, she aimed at innovating in the winter wear category with a focus on research, especially to reduce the weight without compromising on warmth.
The company now offers travel-friendly winter wear, including thermals, puffer jackets, and hard-shells, among others, priced between Rs 300 and Rs 5,000.
She shares that the designs are prototyped and tested for durability and temperature grading before starting production with its four manufacturer partners in India.
Kosha offers winter wear priced between Rs 300 and Rs 5,000.
Kosha’s products are now available through four stores in Mumbai along with ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon, Myntra, and Nykaa.
The B2B model contributes to less than 5 percent of the business, which includes designing for the crew of Akash Ambani's wedding, tour guides of travel companies, the security team of ICICI bank, and Indian air force team that summited Mt. Windsor, among others.
Growing up with her grandfather has shaped her as an entrepreneur with two main focus areas: problem-solving and innovation. “He particularly told me about a waist coat that he created and how it was unique."
Yuktie stays true to these values by maintaining close customer relationships, learning about their trips and destinations, and showcasing the layers they would need accordingly.
In October 2019, Kosha raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round from US-based Tres Monos Capital and Narendra Hiranandani, Founder of Enhira Software.
COVID-19 and the challenges
As an entrepreneur, Yuktie says building the team was an initial challenge. At this stage, she cites a new challenge: raising capital.
“A lot of the products offered by financial institutions are very dated and not really adapted to the needs of current entrepreneurs and businesses. And innovative fintech products have interest rates of 18 to 30 percent, which are not feasible for businesses,” she explains.
Yuktie says she has faced gender bias as an entrepreneur, something she never did growing up in a family of two daughters.
“An investor asked me about my plans to get married. I don't think a male founder gets asked such questions. My getting married has nothing to do with my capabilities to take the business forward,” she says.
While Yuktie agrees that women find it harder to raise funds, emphasises that there is enough of a support ecosystem one can access. “In the midst of the lockdown, our business was majorly impacted because we are directly related to travel and retail. We found a huge support system in GAME.”