Ayushi Gudwani, Founder, FableStreet On Creating A Premium Workwear Brand For Women
In an interview with BW Disrupt, Ayushi Gudwani, Founder, FableStreet talks about the Premium workwear for women, business expansion, competitors and more.
Ayushi Founder & CEO, has been a work-wear consumer for years and went through the predicament of finding great pieces to wear to office. This was the starting point of FableStreet. It started as a vision to make women feel confident and beautiful about themselves, by addressing their work-wear needs.
1. Brief us about your business model like how did the idea come to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
FableStreet is a workwear brand for women focusing on providing clothing solutions for professional women, specifically for the Indian body type and sizes.
I used to travel abroad frequently when I was working as a Consultant with McKinsey and Co., and it is then I realised that there aren’t enough options available for premium workwear for women in India. More so, the fits available within India were international sizes and did not work for Indian body shapes. I even ended up picking clothes for myself from stores and brands abroad, and this is how I found this to be an interesting market to look into and launch a business back home once I left McK.
A digitally native brand, FableStreet started with selling on its own website, where the customers could buy clothes in pre-existing sizes from XS - XL, as well as customise them, tailored specifically for their shape and size. Over time, we expanded into adopting an omnichannel strategy, by selling on marketplaces like Myntra, Ajio, Nykaa. In 2019, we also ventured into offline retail by opening our first store in DLF Promenade, New Delhi.
2. What are the unique key points of your company?
FableStreet is a tech-enabled, lifestyle brand, offering premium workwear solutions for professional women across shapes and sizes. Our USP includes proprietary and R&D-backed Tailored Fit algorithm which gives a great fit with just 3 body measurements. We are the first brand, globally, to offer "My Style, Your Fit" solution where we address and solve the unmet needs of professional women across shapes and sizes.
3. How are you different from the existing competitors?
FableStreet operates in the underpenetrated women's workwear space and is the first workwear brand in India to offer Tailored fit apparel with functional elements and luxury fabrics. What remains distinctive about the brand is the following:
- We are R&D-oriented and analytics-driven, with a strong focus on fit, comfort and functionality to create designs.
- The brand caters to consumers and their evolved needs by staying agile and designing evolved products that address & solve their workwear issues. This has helped us to stay relevant and build strong brand loyalty.
- We are a Made to Order brand that offers clothing customised to women's body measurements and have it delivered straight to their doorstep (both domestically and internationally)
4. What is the funding status and monetization model?
In December 2019, FableStreet raised $3 million in Series A from Fireside Ventures. As an e-commerce business, our monetisation happens through the revenue we earn by selling our products.
5. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
In a broader sense, the challenges we face are similar to any other business, which include hiring the right set of people and other day-to-day challenges that we encounter in our business operations.
Taking a more specific lens of a fashion retail business, our top challenge is to run a lean inventory model, and we are glad to have cracked this early enough in our growth phase—which is core to our business model.
6. How has been the people`s/TG response so far?
In the span of over 4 years, we have served over 1,00,000 customers, and have seen a very healthy rate of repeat business from our customers. Going by this, we can say that the response for our brand in the market has been very positive, and this is a testament for us solving an existing and real need for professional women. More so, despite being a non-essential category and with the onset of WFH during the COVID-19 period, our deep understanding of consumers led us into building relevant products (like WFH collection, Knits, etc.).
7. What are the traction details (like users, app downloads & other achievements of the company)?
We had been growing 2.5-3x year on year till last year. In 2020, despite the pandemic, we have been able to grow at 1.8x.
8. How do you look at expansion?
As we grow, our website and online marketplaces will continue to remain important channels of the business for us. We have also noted high traction offline in our retail store, which we opened only last year, so we will be looking at expanding our offline presence too. Our aim will be to definitely continue and strengthen ourselves as an omnichannel brand.
9. What are your marketing plans?
As a digitally native brand, most of our marketing efforts are online in nature. When we look at marketing at FableStreet, it is far away from being just a way to sell our products to our customers. As a brand, we stand for celebrating women and being a part of their personal journeys. With this in mind, we have an ongoing blog The Corner Office and recently ran a #FSChangemakers campaign to celebrate women, who are bringing about a change.
While we will continue to double down on the theme of celebrating women on the brand side, we have a very strong performance marketing team as well. We are a very data-oriented company, so the digital marketing team’s key focus is on improving our repeat cohorts by reaching out to the right customers with the right products at the right time.
10. What has been the biggest learnings so far?
Our key learnings thus far have been:
a. To hire amazing people, and ensure they are positive enablers in the push to do better and overall organisational culture, and have a high degree of drive and ownership of their work
b. Being customer-backward, as opposed to design-forward, helps in maintaining a strong focus on the evolving needs of the customer and building products to address those needs
c. Being agile enough to counter challenging times is a must for any young company. We were able to survive & thrive despite the pandemic because of our agility—we ensured we first launched masks, and then we were one of the firsts to launch a work from home line, followed by an all daywear line called Multitude.
d. Innovation on the product and business model is pivotal to break the core barriers in a conventional industry
11. What is the market size and opportunity?
Within the market for apparel industry, western wear for women is one of the fastest growing segments, growing at a CAGR of 30%, and has a market of $10bn. Within western wear, workwear is one of the most underpenetrated segments, so we believe we are well-positioned to scale towards 1000 cr/yr revenues over the next 3-5 years.
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