The word on the FableStreet is out: Ayushi Gudwani takes to travel and fitness to unwind
Are you looking for premium workwear? Check out FableStreet, founded by Ayushi Gudwani, who believes in the power of ideas and finding ways to bring them to fruition.
High neck or sheer yoke? Drop shoulder or petal sleeves? Golden mandarin or cool aqua? Culotte or skirt? Which will it be this morning?
If, like every woman, you face this dilemma every single day before you set off for work, think of FableStreet, says Founder Ayushi Gudwani. Her premium workwear brand believes that every woman is unique, and creates clothes in a wide repertoire of styles and a vast spectrum of sizes for the Indian woman.
Her mantra, stylish work wear meets flattering fits, led to the launch of her company, FableStreet, where she curates made-for-the-office clothes with functional designs coupled with 'FS Sizing Algorithm' to create ensembles that look great on all body sizes.
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender, she speaks about her work and her hobbies that range from travelling, fitness, and Netflix (in that order).
Where it began
Ayushi is an engineer, who went on to do her MBA from IIM Calcutta, following which she worked with McKinsey & Company as a Senior Engagement Manager.
“I used to travel abroad very often during my stint at the company and would find myself shopping for workwear internationally, as opposed to shopping from brands available in India. My struggle to find well-fitting, comfortable, and quality work wear in India made me realise that the work wear market in India, especially for women, was significantly unchartered and had enough business potential to build a brand,” she says.
Ayushi put her management and analytical skills to use, and conducted extensive R&D for a whole year before FableStreet was officially established. Given the increasing number of women entering the workforce, the only way to crack the market was to offer outstanding products.
“It was of utmost importance to me that my brand was unlike any other available in the market,” she adds. “The data collection also helped me and my team develop a proprietary tailor-fit algorithm, which helped us solve the sizing issues that Indian women generally face.”
Once the research was done, Ayushi launched her website, www.fablestreet.com, for sales and plunged into the arena of product acceptance, testing, and tweaking with her early customers. Raising funds, scaling up their operations, and adding more products and styles took up much of her time.
According to Ayushi, fashion is all about being yourself and not merely being fashionable. “There has to be an independent and unique sensibility of style, dressing, and look,” she says. “Our USP is tailored fits, minimalism, and edgy detailing. Our focus is on the functionality and longevity of a garment.”
FableStreet also has a sizing algorithm that only requires the customer to provide three body measurements online to extrapolate the remaining measurements to 95 percent accuracy. Today, they have engaged with over a million women online and have now added shoes, nursing and maternity wear, accessories and more to their product list.
A word of advice
Her advice to anyone who is dreaming of a startup would be, “If you are contemplating whether to risk or not risk setting up your own startup, always take the risk. It may or may not pay off, but you won’t regret it later! But having a great idea is not enough; the only way to succeed is executing it right.”
Ayushi also lets us in on her favourite pastimes. She loves travelling and often sets off on vacations across the world.
One of Ayushi’s favourite travel destinations is the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
“When I was there, I stayed at a lovely farm cottage. I found the country absolutely stunning and breath-taking. It was quiet, serene, and picture perfect. I would stop at every milestone during my drive to the Isle of Skye to absorb what I was seeing.”
Ayushi also enjoys drives, the hikes, watching sunsets, walking by the sea, and catching up on her reading during her travels.
“There was a time in my life when I would visit every tourist spot during my vacations, but now that I understand more about what I enjoy and what I don’t, I only choose the tourist spots that make sense. Also, with so many online travel communities, you can actually find hidden gems that are isolated and unidentified,” she adds.
Ayushi says that the one tourist spot, she would go back to, again and again, is the Louvre Museum. “I would return, not just to visit the museum, but to also enjoy the sight of the Pyramid of Louvre lit at night, with a distant view to Eiffel tower. I love sitting there and enjoying the view with a cup of hot chocolate.”
Ayushi enjoys checking out the local culture when she travels with her husband, Saurabh. “I am not much of an adventure sports person, but we love to walk everywhere,” she says. “We like to cover the central towns (especially in European cities) on foot and stop at local outlets to enjoy the local food, sit in cafés by the road, and absorb the local culture. And I do love to shop too.”
She does not care much for souvenirs but ends up picking up fridge magnets everywhere. “Saurabh and I have been collecting pictures, boarding passes, tourism tickets, postcards, city maps etc. over past few years, and we hope we make a collage out of it someday!” she adds.
As for the cuisine, Ayushi says she fell in love with the vast variety of breads and bakery products available in shops along the streets of Paris, Venice, and Madrid.
“The smell of freshly baked bread, waffles, and crepes follows you when you walk on the streets and is one of my most beautiful memories,” she says. “I actually learnt how to bake bread and cakes recently – and now, I make some amazing Ciabatta, Focaccia and several different types of whole-wheat bread at home.”
She has a few tips for travellers who might be going on a journey. “Always, travel light, carry a local map, cover limited places/spots, but enjoy where you go rather than rushing to check mark all the tourist spots.”
For the love of travel
Travel can bring along a host of problems, and Ayushi has had her fair share of them. “Once, when I was travelling solo, during the last leg of my journey, I landed up at a small airport in Scotland only to realise that some low-cost carriers need you to web check-in to confirm your booking (despite paid booking),” she recalls. “You won’t get a seat in the flight at airport check-in counter if you haven’t checked in online or any ticket refund. With no assistance in a foreign land, there is no way easy way out of it. My learning from that experience was – always read the fine print on your tickets.”
Ayushi believes that a single lifetime is not enough to see all the beautiful places on the earth. “Travel teaches me to be open to new places, people, and cultures, and I am always eager to absorb more.”
Staying fit is on top of Ayushi’s priority list. “I have wanted to focus on health for years, but never did so, until a year ago. That was when I stuck to a regimen for over a year,” she says. “Crossfit has been an interesting training regimen which focuses on strength, stamina and endurance and follows a one hour instructed class approach.”
She enjoys weight training and can lift up to 80-90 kg, depending on the type of workout regimen, and she also does deadlifts and squats. “The reason I stuck on to this regimen was because I saw a significant improvement in my strength and I built up a muscular body.”
Life and finding a balance
Ayushi says that enjoying life is an important function of the mind.
“I believe that every moment you spend should be spent either learning or having fun. This is why I bucket my daily activities in that manner – I de-stress when I am at work, with my team, at Crossfit, or even while enjoying some great dessert.”
When it comes to finding balance in life, the process varies from person to person, she says. “You have to define what balanced life means to you. For me, it is working hard, having fun, spending time with my family, catching up on some of my reading, and chilling with Netflix. I find time to do all these things every week and it keeps me happy.”
If the words of writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron who once said,"Writing is what I do... it is like breathing to me..." defined the goals of Ephron's life, it would be Asha's mantra too, as she lives to create word pictures of the people she meets. She believes that the best stories "must move the heart and feed the mind". When she is not working, she loves reading novels and listening to music.