Upcycling sarees to streamlining SME supply chains, what SMBStory covered this week

This week, SMBStory spoke to LataSita, a Kolkata-based brand that upcycles sarees to provide classic fashion to its customers. We also introduce you Aksum Trademart, which is helping SMEs through supply-chain-as-a-service.
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India has a problem with excess sarees. Did you know that eight out of 10 women in India have either not worn most sarees in their wardrobes or worn them only a few times? 

According to a report, the retail value of the women's wear market in India is estimated to be around Rs 122,600 crore ($19.2 billion) in 2017, of which sarees alone contributed nearly 33% amounting to nearly Rs 38,000 crore. The segment is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5-6% between 2018 to 2023, owing to the increasing demand for sarees from various segments.

With so many sarees in the market, the mountain of textile waste has grown larger than ever. This also leads to a loss of artisanal legacy, which is kept intact through these sarees. 

In an effort to find a solution, Meghna Nayak built LataSita, a brand that upcycles sarees to provide classic fashion to customers. Here’s the brand’s story.

LataSita

The fabric and the craftsmanship of vintage pieces are beyond compare. This is what Meghna Nayak, a freelance journalist from Kolkata, realised a decade ago when she saw her mother sifting through her wardrobe. 

A particular heirloom saree, which Meghna’s mother had inherited from her grandmother, caught her eye.

“The saree was decades old but the kind of work done on it and the fabric were unmatched. It was nothing like the ones available today. When I looked inside the wardrobe, there were hundreds of such sarees that I had never seen my mother wear,” says Meghna.

This led Meghna to ponder over what could be done with the sarees that were not worn.

She started LataSita, a design studio that upcycles old sarees in an attempt to create “zero-waste” and “ethically-produced classic” outfits for women and also preserve the country’s textile legacy. 

A decade ago, when Meghna started the business, ‘upcycling’ was a fancy term and a niche category with not many organised players. LataSita, which was started with Meghna’s savings of Rs 5 lakh, makes a variety of clothes such as jackets, kimonos, shrugs, kurtas, and dresses. 

Sarees from the wardrobes of women—used, gifted or unworn—are the main sources of LataSita’s clothes. In 2021, Meghna scouted for sarees that were used in Durga Puja pandals across Kolkata, repurposing tonnes of fabrics which would have otherwise ended up as waste in landfills. 

Read the full story here.

Other top picks of the week:

Aksum Trademart Pvt Ltd

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have ebbed away, its impact can still be felt large and wide. MSMEs are still caught in the wake of its turbulence—with disruptions in both the demand and supply sides creating a lasting impact. 

The pandemic created a lot of challenges for MSMEs and according to Ministry of MSME data, nearly 6,000 units were shut in FY21 and FY22. A core factor contributing to this downslide was the supply chain logjam, which had not been addressed at large. 

In 2021, Sumit Bhatia and Ankit Jain started Aksum Trademart Pvt Ltd to help small and medium businesses (SMEs) and corporates build sufficient flexibility in their supply chain processes. The company develops a framework that helps SMEs plan and execute their procurement operations and working capital management efficiently. The concept is called supply-chain-as-a-service (SCaaS)

SCaaS refers to the outsourcing of several or all supply chain management functions to a third party which offers a flexible model for SMEs to operate their supply chains without upfront heavy investment in people, processes, and technology.

“There are many B2B players in the market, however, the biggest problem lies in connecting the small businesses with potential large buyers and even if that is done, the hindrance of smooth logistics, quality check, working capital, and a lot more pose various problems,” says co-founder Ankit in a conversation with SMBStory.

In an interview, Ankit and Sumit talk about the idea behind the company, what makes it stand out, and the challenges faced.

Read the full story here.

Why companies need to build a value-rich culture

A recent survey of 1,400 CEOs found that an overwhelming majority (92%) believed that in the long term, improving the company's culture and values would be beneficial. The executives also said that values influenced productivity, profitability, and growth across the organisation. 

However, firms have found it challenging to integrate values and culture, especially as the organisation scales over time. Only 15% of the survey respondents said their firm's value was as expected. 

In a rapidly evolving business environment, it is now more critical than ever for startups and smaller firms to develop values aligned with the company's long-term goals. But what exactly are these values, and how can companies implement this? 

Read the full story here.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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