India’s $3 billion lingerie market has its fair share of retailers, but many of them sell inner-wear along with other apparel. In a small conversation with Neha Kant, Founder, Clovia about her ardent success and story behind starting Clovia.
Please share about your entrepreneurial journey and discuss about the challenges you faced and how did you overcome these issues?
Lingerie has always been talked about in a hushed voice in our country. It is an uncomfortable experience to shop from physical stores which are mostly run by men. We all have different stories about bra shopping during our youth, some funny but many awkward. During one of my travels abroad, I happened to come across a whole range of lingerie and was shocked to realize the severe drought of good lingerie solutions available to Indian women. About 5 years back, only vanilla options existed and anything which offered even a little bit extra by way of design or fashion was exorbitantly expensive.
Having worked in e-commerce for over 5 years, I knew that it could be a great platform for women to pick the right size and fit from the privacy of their homes.
With the expansion of internet penetration in the country and the already existing gap in lingerie business, I decided to take the less travelled road, with the help of my husband (an avid tech entrepreneur), a very senior tech specialist and an experienced lingerie expert on board, Clovia happened! We started in 2013 and since then there is no looking back.
Please share the USP of your business?
Clovia’s USP is in the products we make, which are stylish and comfortable at the same time. We offer solution based lingerie that helps you look great in all your outfits. We believe that comfortable lingerie need not be boring and therefore, our designs are very youthful. We have a very strong and quick feedback gathering system allowing us to see in real time how our products are being accepted in market. We track satisfaction score for all our products and this feedback engine dictates our future launches.
This helps us stay relevant to our customer. We sell what customer wants unlike a retailer who sells what he finds easy to stock i.e. few colours, sizes, fits etc. We launch over 250 styles every month so a customer has something new every week.
Please elaborate about your distribution model?
The lingerie ecosystem in India has been operating with the age-old system of making a handful of styles a year and pushing it to the end customer through regular distribution channels. This model is extremely inefficient for this industry which has multiple sizes and solutions required by the end consumer - quite contrary to the regular apparel industry. This is what makes online an extremely strong channel for the category. Moreover when you operate with multiple sizes and solutions, customer feedback plays a huge role in this model, which further gets delayed in the offline distribution model
As against a regular offline manufacturer which does 80-100 designs a year at best, we offer over 200 new styles of lingerie every month for our end customer with a online-first approach. We design in-house, outsource the end manufacturing with strict quality controls of our own and sell through multiple channels, with online channels being our first love. We don't want to take more than 1 hop to reach the end customer - for faster feedback and quick inventory turn-around.
As being a leading female entrepreneur, what are the challenges that you face working with male counterparts?
We must stop thinking along these lines. The challenges are the same with people of both genders. However, as a working mother, I do find myself making adjustments to other people with kids and more so with working mothers.
Please share a message for all of the aspiring mothers who wish to become an entrepreneur and how franchising can help in acting as a growth booster?
All I would like to tell them is that everything starts from nothing, so have the courage to chase your dreams. Also, do not get discouraged by the bad days. There is always a good, bad and ugly phase for everything we do and it will pass. Hang on!