SuTa - A Design House Creating a Range of Attire with a Blend of Tradition and Contemporaneity
Within the Branded Indian Apparel industry, Suta operates in a very small niche of contemporary ethnic wear for women using hand woven fabrics.
This is the journey of Su and Ta, two ladies who have taken a plunge to excel in women entrepreneurship and take their start-up SuTa to a next level. In a quick conversation with Business World, Su and Ta share their thoughts on how they have broken the unseen barriers and tasted success on their entrepreneurial journey.
Silly childhood game of selling bags made out of handkerchief suddenly started looking like a signal for Sujata Biswas and Taniya Biswas. After spending successful years in the corporate world they decided to follow this tremendously fun journey named SuTa, the name itself means thread - Su- Sujata and Ta- Taniya, elated when they discovered the magic of the syllables in their names and felt that it’s meant to be.
Entrepreneur on a mission
Coming from an engineering and MBA background has made them more adaptable and flexible to the structured process in both Fashion and e-commerce. Su did her engineering from CET Bhubaneswar and MBA from IIFT Delhi. She then worked for 6 years across the Essar group and Jindal group. Ta did her engineering from NIT Rourkela and MBA from IIM Lukhnow. She worked for 3 years across the TATA group and IBM. Even after spending many years in the corporate world, their passion never abated. Thus in 2015, fighting many odds, Suta was born.
Within the Branded Indian Apparel industry, Suta operates in a very small niche of contemporary ethnic wear for women using hand woven fabrics. The key contribution of this industry to the economy is taking Indian fabrics and craftsmanship to the world by providing a platform for highly skilful artisans in rural India to create designs that are contemporary and ethnic at the same time.
From the rural India to ecommerce
According to Taniya Biswas, “We are just 1.5 years old. It’s been a tremendously fun journey so far and we see enormous growth potential for our products. One of our biggest achievements is that within a short span of 6 months we have over thirty two thousand followers on Instagram without any advert spends.”
She further reiterates, “Our products have reached customers all over the world and our customer base (we call them our #sutaqueens) is growing ever so big and ever so strong. On the production front, we have so far employed 30 weavers and their family members (mostly females). We aspire to travel to many more villages and work with these god-gifted weavers.”
Demand vs Supply
Sujata Biswas comments that, “There is an increasing demand for hand-made fabrics which stand for simplicity, comfort and symbolize the rich Indian heritage. Platforms like ours provide employment opportunities to skilled local artisans in rural India, many of whom are women, and help them be financially independent.”
She further states that, “Su’s Right brain is more active and Ta’s left. Our corporate team comprises of 8 women. Our work place is like an extended family where everyone is keen to give their best. While as a leader one has to set examples for others to follow, we are very open to ideas from the younger team members. E-commerce is a fairly new area and has been active for little more than a decade. Here changes are frequents and constant. So, apart from the regular job profile assigned to the members, they are encouraged to think out of the box and implement at least one area of improvement every month which as a team we collectively work upon. “
Challenges faced in running a Fashion based e-commerce model
According to Su and Ta, “When we jumped into the entrepreneurship bandwagon, we realized it’s a messy jungle and if you want to sustain, you need to stay focused and extremely agile. Change is so fluid that if you don’t embrace it, you will perish. Starting from procuring raw materials, negotiating, meeting the artisans and understanding their stories, designing, doing photoshoots and putting forth the stories to uploading and managing the inventory- is a daunting task.”
They feel that amidst the chaos, your eye should never waiver off the path you have set for yourself.
They are successful in changing the mindset that wearing a saree is tedious and reserved only for traditional functions and have taken it upon their shoulders to see brands like theirs fighting for the dying art of saree draping. With the finest handloom products made in India they are able to reach thousands of people in India and abroad to tell our stories.
Social Presence and Responsibility
Speaking on their growing social media presence, Su and Ta say that they have grown organically till now and have not invested on marketing yet. They are investing more time in a few projects, which involves discovering different ways of natural processes to dye fabrics and incorporate different natural ingredients in the weaving process.
This ensure that the world should be a little more beautiful and less polluted, their skin will be happier, and most importantly, the fabric will have amazing texture and fragrance. They are doing these projects to make Suta, an even better and a faithful clothing brand for women.
“In the short term we would like to replicate our model of adopting villages. Now we are working with one village in West Bengal and are currently working with another group of weavers in another village. They intend to expand to the south and west of India and work on more exquisite art forms that are endemic to these regions. In the long term, we want to see Suta as a symbol of purity and known for its excellent quality of hand-woven fabrics from all over India,” say Sujata and Taniya.
SuTa’s YOY growth is 140%. The startup has made Rs 1.12 Crore of annual revenue within 1.5 years of establishment.
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