Pipa Bella is a revolutionary digital fashion brand, offering trendy fashion jewellery and accessories to women in India. With its range of 1000+ styles, the brand offers unique, quality-assured, and affordable jewellery for the women of today. In an interview with Abha Garyali Peer, Shuchi Pandya, Founder, Pipa Bella shares her journey, her views on funding for her start-up and her future expansion plans.
Pipa Bellaâ€‹ is a fashion jewellery brand that has really caught people’s attention. What, according to you are the factors which have given it a boost?
It’s really important that we connect with our customers in a way that goes beyond just selling jewellery. We use data obsessively to understand our customers better, everything from geography to age to psychographic profiles. We then set out to build products based on past transaction data as well as future trends that we believe will hit the Indian market in a few months. This way we can ensure we are always ahead of the game in terms of launching trendy and off-the-runway trends for the user.
Share your entrepreneurial journey?
I started Pipa Bella in 2014 and we have since grown from a 3 person to a 35 person team in less than 3 years. We faced many challenges in the initial days around marketing our brand with limited funding. We decided to focus purely on organic marketing - we participated in offline trunk shows, exhibitions, and recruited brand ambassadors to promote the brand. This helped us get that initial marketing boost we needed and build word of mouth without having to drop a lot of money on celebrity endorsements and huge campaigns.
The brand has raised approx $ 650K till 2015. How has been the process of funding? Can you also please enlighten us about the importance of funding for Pipa Bella?
Funding allowed us to scale on three levels - marketing, HR and technology. Investors provided better access to resources, especially technology and HR. We were able to attract better talent thanks to funding, and also experiment more with marketing campaigns.
An entrepreneur learns while making his/her journey. What all have you learnt from managing Pipa Bellaâ€‹?
I have learnt that some of the most complex problems in an organization are created not because of a poor strategy or lack of resources, but because of lack of communication. Understanding this makes the problem much easier to solve, because then you can design systems that systemically solve for areas where communication becomes a barrier for growth. For me at Pipa Bella, an important part of this journey has been learning how to give autonomy to your team in making decisions. It’s natural for a CEO or Founder to want to control all aspects of the StartUp, but there are only so many issues and decisions that one can dive deep into in a given day. Also I have learned that a CEO’s most important job is to outline the vision of the organization and ensure that everyone else acts in line with that vision. Everything else falls into place if the CEO can do that one job well.
Your journey has been very encouraging to all. What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women?
I am probably one of those rare female entrepreneurs who believe that women don’t require any special treatment as an entrepreneur, simply because they are women. Maybe this is because all my life I have seen a lot of female leaders in my own close circle and hence I have never thought twice of it. I think if there is one advice I have for entrepreneurs in general, it is to build an organization that is here to last. It’s easy to get caught up in the sexiness of funding and fancy offices, but a startup is like a baby that needs to grow up healthy. Focus should be on fundamentals, profitability as a near-term goal, and revenue per employee increasing over time, rather than vanity metrics.
How has been the customers response to Pipa Bella? How do you plan to expand further?
With a strong focus on customer service and product design, our customers have always appreciated and complimented us on our efforts in those areas. We plan to expand both offline and globally in the next few months. We will also be launching a new bag and make up collection in collaboration with world renowned make-up artist Namrata Soni in the coming weeks.