KAARYAH has rewritten the stylebook on women’s wear; 4Ps B&M converses with Nidhi Agarwal, founder and CEO, KAARYAH, to find out how it’s all progressing
How did you come up with KAARYAH? KAARYAH was the outcome of not being able to find a basic white shirt that fit well when I spilled some coffee on myself just before a meeting. This was followed by a survey to ascertain if other women faced similar problems. Interestingly enough, it indicated that most Indian women faced a problem finding western clothes with the right fit. KAARYAH then studied ~1,500 women with varied body shapes to come up with a proprietary 18 size-set that no other brand offers even internationally. The brand is now focused on offering wardrobe solutions that help discover not just the best possible fit but also what flatters different body types.
Ratan Tata has invested in your brand. How difficult was it convincing him? What was that one thing which caught his eye and helped you clinch the deal? Getting investments from Mr. Ratan Tata was the first and perhaps one of the greatest milestones for KAARYAH. It was not just about the money but the validation that came with it. Having him onboard is a huge validation of KAARYAH’s concept and that it’s a genuinely good business.
How has your journey been as an entrepreneur? What are the lessons? Being an entrepreneur has taught me a lot about how things work outside of a Fortune 100 company (I have earlier worked with Honeywell, Bain, Airtel, KPMG before starting KAARYAH) and also a great deal about myself. Among other things, I learnt that patience and persistence must go hand in hand. While persistence will demand you remain relentless and tunnel-visioned, patience will demand empathy and time. It’s the ability to apply persistence to build momentum and show patience to truly enable your environment that perhaps leads to a situation that is truly your dream.
It’s said the first impression is the last impression. How important are clothes in creating first impressions especially in the work place? One’s clothes are a significant representation of who they are as people. Clothes are also perhaps the best way to express how you’re feeling on a certain day. Several studies time and again have indicated that the way you look has much to do with how you feel within, which also brings us to believe that it’s important to dress well. As far as dressing for office goes, I believe one must dress for the role they have/ aspire for as your clothes greatly impact people’s perception of you. So if clothing is such a crucial factor, it must by all means be used to one’s advantage.
What makes KAARYAH different from the other apparel brands? KAARYAH offers 18 size options as opposed to other brands offering a maximum of 6 or 11 sizes. At KAARYAH women not only find their ‘Perfect Fit’ but also highly personalized wardrobe solutions. Our business model allows us to improvise and personalize like no other apparel brand can promise to. Our innovative products apart from offering the ‘Best Possible FIT’ also come with unique problem solvers that are exclusive to KAARYAH. We have the largest catalogue in the world for women’s shirts and trousers and also the highest refresh rate with 250-300 new designs introduced every month. Our return for fit is lower than the industry average internationally.
Mohandas Pai has also invested in your brand. What is it that investors look for primarily in a startup? I think the first thing that any investor looks for is viability of the business idea itself. So if a business idea is promising enough and is likely to make profit, it will find the right investor sooner than later. The second factor I would imagine is trust in the entrepreneur and his/her team running the business. If these two factors are in place, things in all probability will work out in favor of both.
As a new online apparel brand what were the challenges you faced? I think the two major challenges we faced were the same as any other start-up, i.e. securing funds and acquiring the right team to run the show. As an apparel brand, KAARYAH begun to get noticed quite in the early days due to a clear “product market fit” and unmatched “innovation”. Infusing the voice and feedback of customers in our products is what makes us stand out from our competitors and by virtue of this KAARYAH has carved out its own userbase/target group.
What has been your most successful entrepreneurial moment? I think any time my family, friends and team come back and tell me that they are proud of me and they care for what I am doing, I feel like I am really lucky. From an entrepreneur’s point of view, isn’t it the largest gratification to have even one person believe you and your idea and stand in support of it?
All along this journey, who has been your pillar of support? My parents! They have never told me what to do or held me back from doing what I have wanted to. They have truly enabled me in every way imaginable and only stood guard of my health & happiness. KAARYAH today stands on the strength of their shoulders, which have stood in support during the toughest financial, emotional and physical times, not just for me but even for my team, and unconditionally so.