Affordable designer wear is Delhi-based Once Upon a Trunk’s mantra

Founded by sisters Shivaani and Saanchi Jain, ecommerce marketplace Once Upon A Trunk offers collections by homegrown designers and brands at affordable prices.

Affordable designer wear is Delhi-based Once Upon a Trunk’s mantra

Wednesday March 17, 2021,

4 min Read

Being fashion forward usually means splurging at designer stores. Delhi-based ecommerce marketplace Once Upon A Trunk wants to change that perception.

Founded in 2015 by sisters Shivaani and Saanchi Jain, the women’s lifestyle marketplace offers collections by homegrown designers and brands at affordable prices. 

Once Upon A Trunk

Saanchi and Shivaani Jain (L-R), Co-founders of Once Upon A Trunk

“It was the zest for fashion, designer wear, and aesthetics that drove me to create an e-fashion marketplace catering to women looking for affordable designer wear,” Shivaani tells YS Weekender in an exclusive interview. “The perfect amalgamation of our expertise in fashion and marketing got supported by my family and helped me launch this business in this evolving industry.” 

The marketplace’s target segment are women in the age group of 25-45. Whether it’s fast fashion or vintage looms, Once Upon A Trunk has something for everybody.

 “We are inclusive of all sizes, shapes, and tastes,” says Shivaani. 

One can shop for apparel, jewellery, home decor, and kids’ wear on the platform and get the items delivered to more than 22,000 pin codes across metros and Tier-I cities.

The platform offers collections by designers Gunu Sahni, Janasya, Rivaaj Clothing, Eridani, trueBrowns, and Aakaar, among others. Average prices for occasion wear range from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000. 

Despite the pandemic, orders on the ecommerce portal grew 180 percent last year compared to 2019. 

Pivot to a direct dispatch model

Once Upon A Trunk started out with an investment of Rs 50 lakh and an orthodox business model. Designers, who listed their products on the ecommerce platform, would send the orders to Once Upon A Trunk’s warehouse within a turnaround time of five days. 

However, with an increase in order volume, the time required for delivery started getting extended, says Shivaani. So, in late 2019, the platform pivoted to direct dispatch, a model it continues to follow.

Once Upon A Trunk

Orange Silk Kurta by Truebrowns, available by Once Upon A True

Under this model, orders are directly shipped from sellers to customers, making Once Upon A Trunk one of the fastest designer wear delivery e-marketplaces. According to Shivaani, orders are dispatched within three days and delivered within five days. The business-to-consumer (B2C) shipment model enables sellers to dispatch products through logistics tie-ups with Delhivery, Ecom Express, and Blue Dart.  

Once Upon A Trunk works on a commission model with sellers. As part of the quality check process at the marketplace, all sellers get a weekly surprise visit from the team, which consists of 15 full-time professionals and five freelancers. 

Growth channels

Friends and family of the founders initiated the first sales on the ecommerce platform. Before the onset of the pandemic, Once Upon A Trunk had pop-up stores in co-working spaces. Over time, it has taken up paid marketing, social media marketing, as well as affiliate and influencer marketing. 

Last year, the platform crossed the 2-lakh customer mark amid the pandemic. During the lockdown, on an average 35-45 percent of customers returned to the marketplace to make more purchases, says Shivaani. 

Revenues for the current fiscal year are expected to grow 75 percent compared to the previous year and have surged 180 percent since the pandemic started. 

“Our target for FY22 is to grow our sales by 200 percent,” says Shivaani.

Once Upon A Trunk

Co-founders of Once Upon A Trunk

Market potential

Once Upon A Trunk competes with online marketplaces such as Luxepolis, Tata CLiQ Luxury, and Darveys that host luxury brands in India. 

According to Shivaani, what differentiates Once Upon A Trunk from the rest is its “plethora of aesthetically pleasing and affordable designer wear, along with customisation and superfast delivery”. Customisation includes fitting changes, which are taken care of by designers or sellers. 

Shivaani says that following the lockdown, loungewear and activewear have gained tremendous momentum and are taking over the market. 

The platform launched its private label, Reyna, a year and half back and is looking to introduce another one this year. “We also plan to launch at least five more collections under the existing label,” says Shivaani. 

This apart, the platform aims to add more than 1,000 brands in the next two years.

According to Statista, the Indian luxury fashion segment is expected to clock revenue of $1.59 billion in 2021, with the market likely to hit a compound annual growth rate of 8.40 percent in the 2021-25 period. 

In terms of funding, Once Upon A Trunk has raised Rs 3 crore from friends and family. It is planning to raise more funds to aggressively target Tier-II and Tier-III cities. 

The platform is also looking to launch an app that would allow stylists to get in touch with customers as they shop and assist them in selecting the most suitable outfits. 

Edited by Lena Saha

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