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Vastram, a Home Grown Brand’s Business Mantra- Fusion of Ethnic and Modern Style

Fusion of ethnic and modern style has been the business mantra of this momtastic trio. Shivani Joshi, her daughter Isha Joshi and her cousin Jaai Kogekar are not just family but the co-founders of Vastram. A handmade fabric apparel and accessories company, Vastram is a purely home-grown brand that was started in 2015. These ladies love to design with handcrafted and handmade fabrics which are also an integral part of our Indian handloom tradition.

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KYE: Wha{“type”:”block”,”srcClientIds”:[“aff7de28-08bf-4a28-9cd5-bcbed09d9264″],”srcRootClientId”:””}t was the motivation behind starting this venture?
Jaai:
We’ve always been fascinated by handmade hand-drawn prints which are available in India. All the states here have their own artistic culture. Adding to our love of handmade fabrics the fact that we all were shopaholics played a huge part in the origin of our venture Vastram. We used to shop for these traditional items for our personal use and so we realized that there is a lot of potential in using those traditional fabrics in contemporary ways. We wanted to make our products appealing to the current generation which includes a majority amount of working professionals. Also, the fact that in this way we could help these traditional artisans and preserve our traditions was always a highly motivating factor. That’s how we started incorporating these fabrics and materials into our designs and started Vastram. We got a really good response from our friends and families so we decided to take it one step further.
Isha: We believe in upcycling for e.g. we make sarees and dupattas and whatever fabric is left we try to make fabric jewellery such as pendants and bangles. The fabric jewellery is very colourful, it can be paired up with the sarees, dupattas or even with crop tops and such modern wear. It is not the typical metal jewellery. It is very quirky and since it was such a new idea we were motivated to make our mark.

KYE: Jaai, being a mompreneur i.e. an entrepreneur as well as a mom how do you manage both fronts?
Jaai:
Interestingly, I still do have a parallel IT career and the idea of Vastram took seed in my mind when I was on extended maternity leave. I loved my IT job but I also started thinking about what else do I love doing? I love designing and since I was home for so long taking care of my baby and with all the manual work that goes into taking care of your baby your brain just starts booting up these creative ideas. I loved fabrics and so did Shivani, my cousin-cum-best friend Together we started brainstorming about this idea and started small. That’s when I realized motherhood actually sharpens your skills of multitasking and planning. As a mother, you have to juggle everything very skilfully. Taking care of my daughter, her extra-curricular activities, and taking care of myself and my career its all about multi-tasking once you become a mother.

KYE: What is it in this venture that gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Jaai:
We love designs and patterns and we use comfort fabrics such as silk and cotton. As we started we realized we could touch so many people n our day-to-day lives. In a 9-5 job, you do interact with people but they have a similar mindset, more or less the same as yours. But in this venture, we interact with so many different people right from artisans to dealers to fabric manufacturers and also the maids in our houses who would help us with some small stitching work.
Isha: The customer reviews matter a lot to us. Many of our customers have told us that since we have such a beautiful variety of products, each appealing in its own way, they have a hard time choosing anyone. The highlight for us is when our customers write back to us and give us positive feedback and tell us how much they loved our products. Even during exhibitions, happiness shows on the faces of our customers, they are always excited to check out our new collections.

KYE: What were the modifications you had to make in your venture due to the current pandemic?
Jaai:
Before these corona times we used to do physical exhibitions and that was a different experience altogether. That gave us good client-base. Almost 70% of our clients were recurring clients.
Isha: Now we have started selling our products online and the response is amazing. All our clients are even happier now with the option to shop for our products online. We will be going live with our website in a few months. We do already have a social media presence on Instagram and Facebook.

KYE: What were the barriers/ challenges you faced while starting Vastram?
Jaai:
We started this venture with a mindset that people would be willing to pay more for special handmade products since we ourselves were willing to pay more. We had to avail of the services of artisans who specialized in this handmade artwork and that cost us a lot. As a result, our finished products also cost higher than what people were willing to pay for a dupatta. Convincing people about the worthiness of our products was a task for us. Once we made an impression on our client’s mind they would revisit us for more products. Another challenge was getting a supply chain. We wanted to have different kinds of variety in every collection we have, we couldn’t set a supply chain where we could set a price and that price could go on for years.

KYE: At this point what is required of you to achieve your business aspirations?
Isha:
Right now we need to have a strong presence on social media i.e. Instagram and Facebook. We will also be coming up with our website. We need to create awareness amongst the people about our presence in the market and the variety of products we sell.
Jaai: Building trust with our clients is very important. Also with this Covid-19 crisis, the whole business scenario has changed, the clients need to know they can trust us and the quality of our products. That can only be created via social media as of now.

KYE: How has this venture changed you as a person?
Jaai:
For me, it was time-management. In the beginning of my career, I used to work for 9 hrs in the office, travel for 2 hours, and my day ended within all that. But as soon as I became a mother and we started with this venture I realized I could still do n number of things. As designing is our passion it really boosts us to do other things.
Isha: I never knew I had a knack for selling things and marketing, whereas I’m absolutely loving it now. I make good sales and it makes me really happy.

KYE: What are the words of wisdom you would share with the budding entrepreneurs?
Jaai:
Mainly it’s about confidence but to get that confidence you first have to take that first plunge. You just plunge into whatever is your passion and that will take you places. Even if it doesn’t reward you immediately it’s something which you love doing. It can be relaxing to do something you love and make a career out of it.
Isha: I’m pretty new to the business but I have learnt that customer relations is the most important aspect of running a business. If your customers are happy, you are happy.

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Written by KYE

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