How this self-taught designer from Ahmedabad built a unique brand for designer scarves
A self-taught designer and artist, Ahmedabad resident Babita Jain’s love for art began in school. She simply loved to play with colours and the canvas. After graduating from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, she joined her family’s garment export business.
Over the years, Babita gathered a profound understanding of textiles, different colour concepts, and their application in design making while in the garment business. In August 2018, she launched The.
“Through my brand, I design exquisite fashion items in line with the brand’s aesthetic. My team and I manage the entire product design process — from initial market research to mood board creation, to sketching/designing, to delivering the end product,” Babita tells HerStory.
As the world was swiftly adopting technology, including fashion designing, Babita decided to jump on the bandwagon and infuse art and creativity in it.
“I felt as designers we must evolve and leverage these technological advancements and merge them with fashion to create extraordinary work that speaks for itself. This is truly what I am trying to do with The House of Prana,” shares Babita.
Setting up the brand
Babita boasts of over three years of experience in the luxury brand market and more than 15 years of experience in the garments sector as a whole.
She says fashion designing is more than just the art of creating clothes and accessories. She believes fashion designing truly intertwines with the culture of the place it has originated.
“At The House of Prana, I create scarves based on consumer demand or even their own creative vision, and my consumers respond to those designs, ushering in new trends,” she says.
Thanks to her daughter Tanya, Babita believed she could traverse the journey from being an artist to an entrepreneur.
“She made me realise my love for art and fabrics after a sabbatical of almost 20 years. She also helped me brainstorm the brand name “Prana,” designed the logo and website, and guided me to dive into some research on my competitors so I could be well versed with the current market scenario. I am truly grateful to her for my entire entrepreneurial journey,” she shares.
At first, Babita started with making paintings, but she wasn’t satisfied as her true passion always lied in fabrics. Thus, she thought of using her creativity on fabrics, and the idea of designing one of its kind luxurious scarves was born.
Babita with her daughter
The challenges of the pandemic
An emerging company, initially, Babita started The House of Prana with physical exhibitions and on a consignment basis in a few stores in Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kanpur, Goa, etc., besides selling on its website.
However, owing to tough competition and cheaper substitutes of abstract art scarves, the company’s sales were low. Thus, Babita slowly started to list the products on a few online portals like Nykaa Fashion and Natty.
“I got decent responses, but it was not overwhelming. Before I could garner proper results, the COVID-19 pandemic hit us all, and we faced few challenges,” says Babita.
One of the biggest challenges was maintaining consistent sales when people were watchful of their spending, and buying only necessary items instead of splurging on luxuries. “We are working hard on social media and advertising to grow and be visible when there are so many competitors around,” she adds.
Another challenge was to manage the workforce amidst the pandemic. Already a small team, The House of Prana saw more employees quitting the company to find better prospects, owing to low sales and no work. The team also had a low consumer demand as people grew conscious of their needs.
“In this trying time, I decided to hire freelancers instead of permanent employees to reduce costs. This also enabled new teams to bring in fresh ideas, so it was a win-win situation for me. But the pandemic shifted my mindset. I truly believe interacting and working with the new generation helps you in getting great fresh inputs to the table,” says Babita.
She adds that she was expecting a lot too soon, and in hindsight, it was to know the competition and carve out a niche for the brand.
The House of Prana’s scarves are priced between Rs 1,800 and Rs 3,500 per designer piece. The brand also has designer face masks for Rs 150 each. In fact, it also sells exclusive premium home décor designer table mats and trivet sets for Rs 5,600 each (set of six table mats and four trivets).
“The dream is to see The House of Prana be a flourishing and successful brand globally,” Babita says, adding that she would like to diversify into clothing in the near future.
“Starting a garment business is a very personal journey. You’re probably a creative person, with something different to offer in a fast-moving industry. But bear in mind, the fashion industry is notoriously difficult to predict. There is no space for being impulsive, and hence, your plan will need to be flexible, as there are no guarantees. One will always have to be up for multiple challenges and deal with them as and when they pop up,” Babita signs off.
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