Today, a woman’s role in society has far transcended that of a homemaker; she is now a primary decision maker, able and skilled worker.
In a country riddled with gender stereotypes, here is a look at women entrepreneurs who are making a difference in the fashion retail sector and are crucial in building successful businesses.
1. Anjana Reddy Founder and Managing Director, USPL : Anjana Reddy, the young, enterprising Founder & Managing Director of USPL, is revolutionizing the marketing and branding space in India with Celebrity fashion lines –Wrogn, Imara, Ms.Taken & many more
Anjana was exposed to the potential of the world of celebrity based fashion lines during her student days in Illinois at the Urbana Champaign College of Business. After completing her Masters Degree in Finance, Anjana returned to India to pursue her entrepreneurial ambitions.
In October 2011, she formed USPL to bridge the existential gap between fans and celebrities in India. The first offering of USPL was Collectabillia – which e-tailed fashion accessories of sports, films and other celebrity icons. The immediate success and future potential of USPL was recognised by renowned, global venture and growth equity firm – Accel Partners, with an investment of over US $3.0 Million in 2012.
Collectabillia continued to enhance its offerings of impressive accessories which included the launch of special limited edition of mobile phone cases, wallets and belts designed around Sachin Tendulkar, coinciding with his retirement from international cricket. As a build up to the FIFA World Cup 2014, Anjana spearheaded a unique tie-up with leading footballer – Lionel Messi. As part of this tie-up, USPL designed and retailedmobile phone and laptop accessories across 40 countries under the ‘Brand Messi’ tagline.
Extending her vision for celebrity fashion lines industry, Anjana collaborated with the captain of the Indian Cricket team Virat Kohli to launch – WROGN – an eclectic, high-street menswear brand under the aegis of USPL in late 2014. WROGN was the first instance of a fashion line being launched by any Indian cricketer. Since its launch on online portal at Myntra.com. Wrogn is amongst the top 10 brands on the brand index of the portal, in terms of revenue and is valued as one of the top 5 brands on the portal in the terms of gross margins. WROGN is one of the highest selling fashion brands on fashion portal Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart and is available in all Shoppers Stop locations and exclusive brands stores across the country.
In early 2015, Anjana seized the opportunity of launching a contemporary women’s ethnic wear fashion line, that sells under the brand name Imara. It is aimed at the young Indian women of today who seek to adopt a progressive outlook in their lives. Imara is presently retailed through Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart and is available in all Shoppers Stop locations and exclusive brands stores across the country.
Ms. Taken, a signature western wear line was launched in 2016. Kriti Sanon, the talented film actor is the face of this brand. The collection sports casual and semi-formal garments with categories including Tops, Tunics, Dresses, Trousers, Jackets and Denims. Ms. Taken epitomizes the young, confident and independent Indian woman who expresses her individuality and walks her own path. Ms. Taken is currently retailed through Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart and is available in prominent Shoppers Stop locations across the country.
Anjana used to rank among the top 3 players in the National Badminton junior circuit. She stepped off the court to pursue her professional pursuits and entrepreneurial passion.However, Anjana continues to follow and support the game of badminton.
Anjana is also actively involved with multiple social initiatives and assists foundations in raising funds through unique sports memorabilia auctions.
2. Radhika Ghai Agarwal, Chief Business Officer ShopClues.com : is the Co-founder and Chief Business Officer at ShopClues.com. As a Co-founder of ShopClues and the driving force behind its go-to-market initiatives, she has carefully nurtured the brand to make it a house-hold name in less than 5 years.
Having worked for Goldman Sachs in Wealth Management and Nordstrom in the Strategy Planning Department, Aggarwal has diverse experience across industry segments such a retail, e-commerce, fashion and lifestyle, advertising, and public relations, all summing up to 16 years. She started on her entrepreneurial journey with her first venture, FashionClues, a social portal for NRI women.
Aggarwal was recently awarded the ‘CEO of the Year’ Award in the Start-Up category at the prestigious CEO India Awards, 2016. She is an accomplished speaker and is a staunch supporter of woman entrepreneurship, having shared her thoughts on several including TiE and other industry events.
She is passionate about empowering women to assume leadership roles within her organisation as well within ShopClues’ vibrant community of merchant partners.
An alumnus of the Washington University in St. Louis, Aggarwal holds an MBA in Strategy. She further went on to pursue a course in ‘Web 2.0 and Creative Writing’ in Standford University.
3. Suchi Mukherjee, Founder and CEO of LimeRoad : Gurgaon-based Suchi Mukherjee, an idea that germinated when she was casually flipping through a glossy magazine after the birth of her second child in London, has become what is today known as LimeRoad, the fastest growing online marketplace for fashion in India.
Mukherjee was living abroad in UK for more than 17 years and returned to India in 2011 with the aim to create a global digital-age equivalent of the 16th Century Grand Trunk Road—a highway that changed the face of trade in the Indian subcontinent.
During her stint overseas, this Cambridge University and London School of Economics-educated entrepreneur has held key leadership roles at Skype, Gumtree and eBay. She helped build eBay in the UK, was on the executive team of Skype where she helped design the biggest upgrade in Skype’s product history, and was also Managing Director, Gumtree to the number one horizontal classifieds business in the UK.
Since its launch in the Indian market in 2012, LimeRoad has had more than 50 million visits and the country’s highest conversion rates. The USP of this online fashion portal is a community of a unique set of sellers including women curators, who together post a record 3,000 new products and 20,000 new fashion stories per day.
Mukherjee has been named ‘Woman Entrepreneur Of The Year’ in the 2016 NDTV Unicorn Start-up Awards. In 2010, she was recognised as a ‘Rising Talent, Global Leaders Under 40’ in Deauville, Paris. Her brainchild LimeRoad has also been voted ‘The Coolest Start-up’ by Business Today in 2015. Recently she was a part of the Indo-Canadian Summit, at a roundtable with the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.
4 Monica Gupta, Co-Founder, Craftsvilla : Monica Gupta is the Co-founder of Craftsvilla, a leading ethnic online platform in India. The brand was co-founded with a vision to create a platform where unprivileged artisans can make a living by selling their handcrafted products. With over five million products to choose from and 30,000 plus sellers on board, Craftsvilla provides an array of ethnic products directly from the designers and artisan at a wholesale price.
She has been actively involved with the handicrafts industry in India for over 10 years. She has extensively travelled across the country, including remote areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan and has built strong relationship with multiple artisans and organizations including Gram Shree, Kalaraksha, Sahaj, Sadhna etc.
She has very good understanding of categories like Women’s Clothing and Accessories like Bags. She is also associated with multiple NGOs in India on informal basis.
She is also the COO of Craftsvilla.com.
She has done her MS in accounting from San Diego State University, US. She is a keen reader and enjoys inspirational books.
5. Shivani Poddar, Founder, Faballey : Shivani Poddar completed her graduation from Hindu College where she consistently topped her batch for all 3 years and did an MBA from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi where she was among the top 5 per cent of her class and represented the college and won many National level competitions.
After graduating from FMS, she was a part of the leadership program at Hindustan Unilever and specialized in the Commercial and Supply Chain function.
She has also worked with Avendus Capital as a part of the Investment Banking team.
At FabAlley, she has been responsible for setting up sourcing and manufacturing processes, financial systems, and fully integrated supply chain techniques, thereby, spearheading the company’s growth to become a world class fashion brand.
6. Richa Kar, CEO and Co-Founder, Zivame : when Richa realized that women who shopped online for lingerie needed assistance and that such a company didn’t exist, she set out to launch her own, and has never turned back since.
The journey was not paved in gold and the challenges she faced were far beyond imagination. Everything from incorporating the company and getting a payment gateway to renting ofﬁce space proved to be a herculean task – the most difﬁcult one being the Indian discomfort with the category – but she ploughed on relentlessly.
Today, it is this very battle to eliminate the taboos surrounding the category that motivates her to achieve more, every single day. With a category like lingerie, ﬁtting is of utmost importance. This is a concept that is rarely understood or given priority.
Richa’s consumer research further revealed that 4 out of 5 women end up buying ill-ﬁtting lingerie. This led to the creation of a second bold new concept called the ‘Fitting Lounge’, which was extended to the brick-and-mortar arena. Here, a customer simply has to book an appointment and drop in to discover products that offer the right ﬁt in total privacy and under the guidance of an expert. The products are then ordered online and conveniently delivered to the customer’s address. An essential need met by a simple solution!
Hailing from Jamshedpur, Richa has pursued an engineering degree from the prestigious Institute of BITS, Pilani followed by a MBA from NMIMS. She has a rich experience of eight years – working across functions in SAP Retail consulting and Spencer’s store, where she learnt the facets of Retail Marketing, Branding and Operations.
It was at SAP, consulting with a global lingerie retailer, that the idea of an online lingerie portal was born. Following her passion, Kar launched Zivame in year 2011 from Bangalore.