Indian saree is by large the most popular outfit in the nation, its market size thus is unlike any other. Consumers are loyal to certain brands which they have preferred over generations without much thought, observably. Hence, it is very difficult to cut into the Rs 40,000 crore saree market, which is currently growing at a CAGR of 5-6 percent between 2018 to 2023.
Founded in 2019, Shobitam has become a prominent name in the industry. The brand has grown 8X from 2019 to 2021 with sales of Rs 9 crore last year. The brand has been able to accomplish that by targetting 18 million NRI's living outside India who are desperately looking for world-class ethnic fashion brands.
“We are continuing to grow rapidly and are on target for 100 percent YoY growth in 2022,” said Aparna Thyagarajan, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer of Shobitam, Inc.
The brand has already raised $1.5 million from leading VC and Angels investors. It has been allocating the funds primarily in four areas: new product development, technology investments, marketing and most importantly building up its team.
“We get nearly 90 percent of our revenues from USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand where we see lots of demand for a high quality and affordable brand like Shobitam,” the company shared.
According to the company, the differentiation that the brand provides is across 5 pillars: beautiful selections, silk mark certified quality, best value prices, fast shopping globally, and 5-star service. In fact, the brand is said to have tens of thousands of customers now, shipped to over 40+ countries and we just crossed 5,000+ 5 Star customer reviews.
Building a Wide Weavers Community
The brand is said to be currently working with over 400 weavers and artisans across 19 cities now. To build such a wide network of weavers is no small task, particularly so for a start-up.
Aparna stated, “We initially started with a few weavers and karigars we knew and used to design our own clothes with them. We then reached out to a few more across different clusters and cities throughout them in 2019. As the Shobitam brand has grown over the last 2 years, we now constantly get requests every week from new weavers and artisans who want to work with us from across India.”
The company claims to have a stringent quality evaluation process with designs for all new weavers and only after that, do they carefully select them.
Also, because the brand has been working directly with weavers, all the middlemen or intermediaries have been eliminated. This provides a key advantage since there are lots of resellers across this entire industry.
Aparna said, “We have a vertically integrated supply chain with no middlemen costs. Working directly with weavers across India enables us to design our unique Shobitam collections that customers love, pay above-average wages to our talented weavers and artisans, and also support their families (through Shobitam GIVE and CARE programs) with meaningful social impact.”
Pain-Points In Saree Industry
Building a distinctive product has always been a challenge for saree brands because the quality is what a consumer eye for. Aparna agrees with the same.
"The #1 pain point was designing great products that solve a clear market need and delivering an exceptional customer experience every day globally," Aparna added.
In fact, to do that the brand has built a world-class product, tech, ops, and marketing team with leadership from ex-Amazon, Microsoft, Hubspot, Nalli, and Cisco.
"The #2 area has been around building our content with selections and deep community engagements so that customers love Shobitam, refer their friends, and keep coming back for more," Aparna further added.
Having built a wide weavers network for sourcing the right products and a solid supply chain, the company is now focusing on scaling going forward by about 10x growth. The brand has the target to build Shobitam into a Rs 100 crore run rate in 5 years, in terms of numerical figures.
On the possibility of going omnichannel, Aparna said, “We are a digital-first online only D2C company. That has been our strategy so far. We will be evaluating omnichannel strategies in a few years. However, we will do offline stores only if we can truly bring Innovation with Operational excellence as true differentiation!”
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