Your home is where your heart is. It’s your safe and happy space, your comfort zone – a place where you don’t mind letting your hair down, simply be in your own skin and act like your own boss. A place that you call your own. Hence, what you wear needs to mirror your lifestyle at home, your definition of comfort and your personality, and contribute to your happiness.
The Channel 46 has collaborated with Avinash & Shanky Sharma, Co-Founders of Shararat, to shed light on how they are building their brand and what they do to keep it buoyed and growing. They also advise entrepreneurs aspiring to build a brand in this space about how they can get started and make their way through the industry.
1. What prompted the idea for Shararat?
We are couplepreneurs. We share our personal life together and work together as well. We started Shararat together in the year 2016. We actually had a love marriage in 2015 and wanted to build a business venture together. That’s how Shararat came into existence. It’s our first baby. As we transitioned from our bachelorhood to a married couple, we realised that we must hold on to the playfulness that is intrinsically ours. So, we breathed some of that playfulness into building a product and experience that is an extension of our personalities. That way, we’ll also be able to spread happiness around to people who are way past their teenage years – an effort to keep the playful child in you alive.
One day, Avinash realised that the women of the house should be kept happy. So that is how we came up with this idea of starting a women’s wear brand that literally enables them to wear happiness and naughtiness on their sleeves. Subsequently, it was a conscious decision that we would want to focus on home wear. Our product line includes items like sleepwear, loungewear, intimate wear, and maternity wear. It includes every kind of home wear a woman may need throughout her life cycle. It’s comfort-wear for every woman, right from a homemaker to a working woman.
As Avinash mentioned, we have actually taken the comfort of women as our top-most priority and then introduced a variety of designs and exciting colours to our product mix. Some are subtle and intricate, while others are vibrant and out there – everything to appeal to the unique preferences of women. They are as suitable for lounging in at your home as they are for going for a walk, grocery shopping, or to a small intimate party. Do check us out on Pop Club and Shop Pop, apart from our website and Instagram.
2. What was your first milestone and how did you get there?
The first milestone was launching on Amazon and getting 100 orders in a period of the first 10 days.
3. What are your tips for an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to enter this space?
- The first tip would be to know your finances and always keep a close track of it.
- The second tip would be to do a thorough study of your competition, price points, and the bestsellers in the market.
- Always work on your strengths. For example, if you are good at supply chain, then you can try your hand at sourcing and build a business around it, keeping supply chain at the core. If you are good at storytelling or marketing, pick a space where you can put your creativity to good use. So, always work around your strengths.
- To know your consumers. Give them the central space in your overall planning.
- And at the end, just launch. The market teaches you what will work and what won’t. So, put your best foot forward and let the market be your teacher. Keep a tight timeline in mind about the period of launch and then just go ahead with it.
4. What were the 5 best business / financial decisions you made?
- Always keep your books in order. That helped us in getting business loans from banks.
- Have a knowledge of where you will get your funding from. There are good unsecured options, government schemes, RPF, etc. So, if you have good knowledge of all these, it will be of great help to you.
- Start networking. That helped in expanding our knowledge and connected us to the right people. We have been a part of multiple ecosystems related to our industry of e-commerce and fashion.
- Another important decision or milestone was to launch to get onboarded on marketplaces like Myntra and AJIO. That has been a turning point for our business.
- And, finally, have our own D2C story. That is equally important for an e-commerce brand like ours, besides being on marketplaces. You should leverage your own customer base by selling through social media and your website.
5. How long did it take you to monetise your venture? What was the turning point?
We were able to monetise our venture from day one itself. It took us the initial 3 to 4 months for planning and then when our inventory went live, we started receiving orders and monetisation happened immediately. So, for us, the turning point was to get into the e-commerce industry at the right time. We entered at the end of 2015 and around the beginning of 2016 and the industry was warming up. People were gradually opening up the novel concept of shopping online on e-commerce platforms. As a result, we got into the channels at the right time. And fashion was something that was an easy-selling commodity online. People can simply take a close look at the available images and take their pick.
6. Are you looking for funding/have acquired investment/intend to bootstrap your business?
We have been a bootstrapped company for the initial years of our business but now we are planning to opt for a round of fundraising. In fact, we did reach out to a group of friends and family last year in 2021. Now, we are planning to do our angel round this year. Being a bootstrapped company in the initial years made our foundation really strong. We truly understand the value of money, whether it’s ours or that of an investors’ or money that we owe a bank. Every penny is equally important. We have deep regard and respect for the money we get into our venture. So we have been mindful of how we spend every bit of it. The capital is not just to increase the valuation of our brand but to build a sound profitable business.
7. Who are the key employees and vendors you need to secure to work in this space?
For us, all of them are partners. Whether they are team members or our business associates. Everyone has a crucial role to play in the success of our venture. As for our team members, we have been fortunate to have people who stayed with us for over 5 years now. They have been an integral part of our journey and have been with us right from ground zero. And in the next phase, we look forward to onboarding new team members, who will take the venture to the next level.
Besides our core team inside our office, we work with some leading partners in their own domain. We work closely with fashion companies for our supply chain and new design development, and digital impression takes care of our online marketing. They have really helped us in fine-tuning a lot of our processes. So, it’s a continuous journey.
8. How do you intend to scale up/expand your business in the next 5 years?
So we want to be the go-to home-wear brand for women. The idea that holds our brand together is that if the woman of the house is happy and enjoys a comfortable life, the entire home will be happy. So, we want to take care of their fashion needs, which take care of their lifestyle at home. We are strictly focusing on getting into the right categories and strongly feel that we have a good potential of growing in them. We started off with sleepwear and loungewear as our primary categories, but have now made a foray into new categories such as maternity wear and intimate wear. In the future, we nurture plans of getting into activewear. All this essentially boils down to taking care of women’s comfort. These are the growing categories and online is the best medium to build your scale and a larger distribution network.
Another way we intend to scale up is to be readily available by being closer to the customer. Hence, we decided to join hands with popular marketplaces like Amazon to make our products available through more platforms, apart from our website. And we distribute our inventory through multiple warehouses in the country to give faster delivery to customers. We have easy return processes as well.
This is how we feel we will grow faster, have a strong presence in online marketplaces, be in the right product categories, and distribute efficiently. And, most importantly, we have kept our designs and colour palette very versatile, while keeping our price points very affordable. Our products start from Rs 500 and go up to Rs 1,500.
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