The ‘Pink city of India’ Jaipur has been famous for its historical monuments, vibrant Rajasthani culture, architecture, cuisine and the world famous arts and crafts. Thirty-two-year-old fashion designer and stylist Snigdha Bihan had always been fascinated by her region’s traditional handwork. Her mother’s involvement in the city’s traditional arts, crafts, and embroidery inspired her to start her own business.
After she became a mother herself, Snigdha realised that there was a huge gap in the kids apparel market. So in 2015, she decided to create a fusion mix between traditional Rajasthani craft designs and contemporary clothing for kids at an affordable price as an experiment, and established Trendmongers Pvt Ltd in Jaipur.
Started with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh that Snigdha borrowed from her husband and a friend, Trendmongers now has an annual turnover of Rs 65 lakh. It operates under the brand 'Little Pockets Store' that specially caters to ethnic wear segment for the kids with Rajasthani handwork carved on it.
The company makes high-quality formal and semi-formal ethnic and casual wear for both boys and girls aged between zero and 10 years.
Snigdha holds a degree in fashion designing and worked as a stylist for the Shri Adhikari Brothers Group of SAB TV in Mumbai. The experience and exposure that she gained there helped her a lot.
She left her job and started exploring different types of kidswear available in the market like traditionally ethnic, contemporary, and casual styles. She realised that there was nothing creative available for kids.
She decided to incorporate the funky and bright colours of the Indian palette with self-designed prints and handwork. Snigdha says, “Our products are articulately designed to give children an effortless air of quirky and contemporary style. We take pride in the uncompromised quality, comfort, and the perfect fit and finish that all our products carry, which makes our products different from the competitive brands.”
According to Snigdha, “The market size of the sector is more than Rs 14,000 crore. “Initially, our main target was Indian kids’ apparel or the domestic market, but now we are seeing a demand from overseas as well.”
Trendmongers employs around 90-100 handicraft artists and manufacturers along with a core team of five. The company has direct retail and wholesale channels for maximum customer acquisition.
Snigdha represented India at the Kids’ Fashion Week 2018 in Vietnam and Budapest. She was awarded the ‘Advaita Award’ for women entrepreneurs in a special category for 2018.
Snigdha has had quite a few challenges in her business journey. Recently, she faced an issue with a group of block printing workers who wanted to quit their traditional work and go for a higher paying job.
She says, “I don’t blame them knowing the fact that there is not enough work available for them. But we are trying our best to create an ecosystem where we can provide them with continuity in their work as well as better pay. I just hope our customers everywhere try to understand what they are buying and the story behind the product.”
The government’s demonetisation move in 2016 affected the sales of the business overnight and gave it a big jolt. Snigdha says, “As most of our workers come from a background where they didn’t use banking services, we paid them all in cash.”
She had a tough time pacifying them as there was no cash available for quite a few days. There was also a lot of panic in the market due to lack of information among the customers that lead to an immediate drop in sales and she had to use all her back up to sustain that year.
Snigdha still has high hopes from the government and believes that it is the key to the growth of small businesses. She says, “From my own experience, I feel that the government has already done a good job by launching these schemes for entrepreneurs, but there is a major lack of awareness among the general public.”
“Loan schemes have high-interest rates and lowering the interest rates can definitely help the new businesses,” she adds.
The sky's the limit for Snigdha, but first, she wants to build a proper setup for her company and then eventually explore the new potential markets all over India and the overseas.
She says, “Entrepreneurs who dream to make it big in this sector should study their target markets well in advance and constantly work on developing a concrete idea. They should take risks, trust their vision and settle for nothing less.”
(This story is published in partnership with the MSME Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)