[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet the ‘alpha females’ of India’s streetwear sector

Capsul founders Bhavisha Dave and Meenakshi Singh talk about dealing with and disrupting the existing ‘bro code’ in the streetwear industry.

[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet the ‘alpha females’ of India’s streetwear sector

Friday March 03, 2023,

3 min Read

“Streetwear fashion is a beast in India and people outside the country are not aware of it,” says Bhavisha Dave, Co-founder of multi-brand streetwear retailer Capsul

She and her co-founder, Meenakshi Singh, are trying to grow India’s streetwear culture, still a very nascent sector.

Bhavisha and Meenakshi have known each for almost a decade. Hailing from Samastipur, a small town in Bihar, Meenakshi, a NIFT alum, joined Puma India after her stint at Tanishq. 

Interestingly, Bhavisha, who was already working at Puma at that time, had taken Meenakshi’s interview. A national-level skater, she has a background in biomedical engineering and completed her MBA from the Asian Institute of Management Manila before joining Puma’s marketing team. 

The duo’s experience with various cultures and subcultures while handling marketing for the brand in different countries led to a business idea. 

“While working with these countries, we met some amazing brand makers in streetwear fashion. We realised that something similar could be done in India. So, we quit our jobs, came back to India, and started Capsul,” Meenakshi says.

In 2018, Bhavisha and Meenakshi established Capsul--a multi-brand online streetwear store. 

Bhavisha says the emerging streetwear culture goes beyond simple marketing gimmicks.

“Working with subcultures and so-called ‘underground verticals’ like hip hop, skateboarding, and music - these are not just marketing strategies. There is a lot of business surrounding them, the business of culture. We saw the effervescence of it in India and figured it was the right time to be a part of this powerful movement of youth culture,” she says. 

The duo traces the origins of their entrepreneurial bug to their days in Puma. Being among the very first employees of Puma when it entered India, they felt that there was an air of “entrepreneurship” within the team. 

However, streetwear culture is mostly led by men, which seemed to be a hindrance in their business. It took the founders almost a year to onboard the first streetwear brand as “people didn’t know if the culture of streetwear even exists in India”. 

“So two ‘alpha females’ would go and pitch about the country, the youth culture, and what we represent. And that’s when we realised that we were among the very few streetwear brands led by women,” Meenakshi recalls.

Once, a fleeting biased comment made them look hard at their hurdles. 

“Once, a person told us people were intimidated by two women selling streetwear. This is a primarily male-dominated space and we sell primarily to men. There is a kind of ‘bro code’ that operates here. It made us think: is this bro code the reason why we were not having a hockey-stick growth?” Meenakshi says. 

However, their passion for the streetwear culture and their support system helped overcome these biases. 

As they plan to become India’s premier streetwear retailer by onboarding almost 100 brands, the duo has different pieces of advice for upcoming women leaders.

Meenakshi says women need to build resilience and confidence within themselves. “I also believe that when you correct one thing in your life, all other things fall into place - be it becoming better at time or finance management,” she says. 

Bhavisha tells women to just “go for it” if they “have an idea”. “Don’t hold yourself back for the perfect time, partner, or business plan. Everything gets figured out along the way. There is nothing that cannot be achieved in bite-sized pieces.”

Edited by Teja Lele