With D2C brand Kanelle, this marketing graduate is pursuing her fashion dream

Based in Delhi, Kanika Jain’s D2C women’s wear brand Kanelle showcased its 2018 fall collection, Blue Jean Baby, at the New York Fashion Week.

For entrepreneur Kanika Jain, it took her years to learn the nitty-gritty of fashion to build her decade-old label, Kanelle

Born and raised in Delhi, her mother, Renu Jain, would make beautiful clothing, which got her interested in fashion and designing. 

A graduate in marketing management from Middlesex University, London, Kanika could not let go of her dream to be part of the fashion industry. 

"After master's, it didn't make sense to do another graduation in fashion, but I pursued certificate courses that gave me some insight into how the fashion industry operates,” she says. 

In early 2009, she returned to India and worked on a few design and styling projects before founding Kanelle — a label that specialises in womenswear in India — in 2011.

Overcoming challenges  

Kanika started at a time when most Indians were not ready for online businesses. It also became difficult for her to work without any connection in the fashion industry. 

While running the business as a one-woman army with support from her mother, Kanika learnt to manage everything — from looking for karigars, designing and putting an entire collection together, manufacturing the products and commercialising it, taking care of finances, marketing, and promotions. 

“Learning on the job took years and didn't happen overnight,” she adds. Getting local artisans on board and communicating with them was also a challenge in the initial stage. Although fluent in Hindi, Kanika would not be aware of certain terminologies and would find it difficult to convey her design ideas. 

Kanika does not shy away from speaking about the challenges she faced as she felt like she needed to hear stories of overcoming challenges while going through them.

Working with a team of less than 20, her brand Kanelle started to get recognition as she launched several collections. At an average price of Rs 6,000, the brand offers kurta sets, tunics, sarees, dresses, jumpsuits, skirts, tops, pants, etc. 

As a Direct-to-Customer (D2C) brand, Kanelle works on a hybrid model, and has an online and offline presence. Besides its website, its products are available on ecommerce marketplaces, including Nykaa, Aza Fashions, and Amazon. 

Its products can also be found at several multi-brand stores and designer outlets in 10 cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, and Raipur.

In 2018, the brand was selected to participate in the New York Fashion Week, where Kanika showcased Kanelle’s collection, Blue Jean Baby, inspired by Lady Diana’s feminism. 

(Products by Kanelle)

Navigating the market

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on most businesses, and Kanelle has been no exception. The entrepreneur says the business slowed down amidst the nationwide lockdown, and the brand was not able to work with its weavers. 

Bootstrapped so far, the brand has been working with various artisan clusters on a project basis, and has now restarted collaborating with them for their upcoming collection.

“Thankfully, the business picked up as most people resorted to online activities and spending more time on social media,” Kanika says. 

The D2C market for women’s apparel, she adds, has only become more competitive. According to Statista, the women's apparel market in India is likely to reach $39 billion by 2025. 

Owing to logistics barriers, exporter brands have started selling domestically, along with many local brands cropping up during the lockdown. 

Although Kanika believes these brands are not direct competitors, they take up a majority of the market space, offering more choices for consumers. “But I positively take competition because that is where you learn and perform better,” she quips. Some of the leading women’s wear brands include FabAlley and Berrylush, among others. 

Recently, Kanelle launched a range of fragrances, and the brand is looking for more opportunities in this niche segment. 

Based on its current sales and growth, Kanelle plans on venturing into different portfolios in the fragrance and beauty industry.

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Edited by Suman Singh and Kanishk Singh


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