Mumbai-based contemporary ethnic brand, The Indian Ethnic Co, which has an annual turnover of Rs 10 crore, is currently growing 3X year-on-year, and is in hyper growth stage.
The brand’s current year target is to cross over Rs 20 crore annual revenue. The fashion brand offers handcrafted apparel and lifestyle products created by rural artisans from across India.
Founded in 2016 by the mother-daughter duo Hetal Desai (Chief Designer & Founder) and Lekhinee Desai (Co-Founder & Marketing Head), as a passion project, is now having three full offices in Mumbai and a team of 25 people. It works with over 100 master artisans of Indian handicrafts.
Lekhinee is a professional Odissi dancer and MBA, Marketing from NMIMS (Mumbai) graduate, Hetal has done her Masters in Home Science from MS University (Baroda). It’s only their pure love and passion for Indian handloom and handicrafts that has led them to start this venture.
“When we founded The Indian Ethnic Co, we just had one goal- To make Indian fashion responsible and sustainable and hence truly handcrafted. This is sustainable fashion, which not only makes you feel good and look good but also sustains the livelihood of millions of artisans and craftsman,” Lekhinee tells the NFAPost.
“Social Media shopping was just gaining steam back in 2016 and we thought that it would turn out to be a cheap experiment to sell through social media as it would not call for any heavy upfront investment. Moreover, we thought that even if the initial sample garments we make to sell on our page do not sell, my sister and I could wear them off. You could actually call this like a no risk experiment,” says Lekhinee about their brand’s journey.
With an investment of Rs 50,000, they made kurtas, clicked photos on their phone and uploaded on Instagram and Facebook. The rest is history. All clothes were sold in a few days and social media provided them a platform to reach out to customers worldwide.
While her mom managed designing and sourcing, Lekhinee managed social media and digital sales alongside her MBA degree.
“For the first two years we continued selling only through social media since I was pursuing my MBA, but even then the brand was growing faster than our expectation. We officially launched our website and registered our brand in 2018,” she says.
At present, they have an inventory of 50,000 meters of fabric. “For a business that was conceptualised and run out of a 400 sq feet living room in Mumbai, with no prior business experience, we had never imagined that our creations had the power to dress 3,000 people living in over 450 cities and 19 countries, just in a year,” she adds.
Being bootstrapped, the mother-daughter duo managed everything initially. “We have been rated as 4.5+/5 across 250 customer reviews on our website,” she says.
The brand is launching a whole new range of contemporary and western silhouettes using traditional craft but modern motifs and styles to appeal to a younger generation of audience that is increasingly becoming conscious about choosing sustainable fashion in their wardrobe.
The styles included will be street style, lots of dresses, both long and short, crop tops and skirts. “This is different from our signature styles of contemporary kurtas and sarees. Our latest collection ‘Grishma’ literally meaning summer is all about fluid fabrics, flowy silhouettes, easy breezy styles that let your skin breathe and let you be as you go about conquering your day. The fabrics used are primarily ‘mul/muslin cotton’, which is specifically light, airy, fine and extremely soft, rather the softest version of cotton and Kota Doria which is a sheer, light cotton variant,” she explains.
These fabrics are hand block printed and natural dyed in crafts primarily Ajrakh, Bagru, Kalamkari and Dabu. The fashion brand has also launched sarees, contemporary dresses, and kurta sets in this collection.
It has also launched a range of Kaftaans and Home Leisure Wear in its Rozaana collection. “Rozaana focuses on home leisure wear with comfort at its core. When you wear a Rozaana, nothing feels more comfortable. Extra loose, extra soft, anti fit styles reimagined in the softest of fabrics, all hand block printed to give one unmatched comfort,” she says.