In Conversation with Srishti Chowdhry, the brain and face behind Mrs. Pleats!
- Tell us a little about yourself and your previous working experience?
I graduated with a degree in Fashion & Apparel Design 7 years ago and immediately started working for a renowned label, contributing to customised ensembles, got hands-on experience in printmaking and studied various embellishment techniques. Through my journey of studying design till today, I’ve only seen a personal inclination towards restoring the grace, the power & the transformative quality of a saree. Whilst sarees became a feeling, I became Mrs. Pleats.
- How was the idea of ‘Mrs. Pleats’ born?
We’ve all seen too much of the same thing everywhere, fabrics that aren’t lightweight, yards of heavily embellished adornments & glamorous bling that only glitters. With this repetitiousness, a seed was sown! To bring art and diversity & to do something different than what’s already available in the market, Mrs. Pleats came into being. The focal point is to bring something that stands out, on fabrics that are airy & hassle-free with designs that uplift your aura and vibe.
- What is the concept of Mrs. Pleats?
The current generation is moving away from authentic Indian wear, due to the same old design patterns & styling & this is why Mrs. Pleats have introduced concept-based sarees, which are hand painted or digitally rendered on the finest & lightest fabrics. Our focus has been to cater to not only the ‘Generation X’ but also the millennials who would undertake in keeping the saree culture alive.
Mrs. Pleats focuses on making saree draping a fun and easy-breezy process! Our sarees are full of life with their colourful art pieces & are available at an extremely affordable price range approximately at Rs 5000, to begin with. The goal is to reignite the passion of sarees by offering customers vibrant colour combinations & trendy patterns all in a neat package.
- Who is the target audience of Mrs. Pleats?
Women across the globe who can start from as young as they’d want to start wearing sarees. So, I would say it’s a broad spectrum.
The plan is to move away from the brick & mortar concept and focus more on the booming online retail market. Customers all over the world are inclined towards online retail due to the comfort which it offers and the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Online retail also gives businesses an opportunity to scale the geographical boundaries and reach people all over the world with the click of a button.
- Hand-painted sarees fall under an array of exclusivity! How do you manage to create an affordable standard for your line of clothes?
Making your products that are of great value as well as being affordable can be hard at times, pretty much like walking on a thin line. A part of it is possible by eliminating the go-betweens although that isn’t all. With a lot of advance planning in place and detailed processes of picking & sourcing the right materials along with a decade of first-hand involvement in the industry and understanding of business operations, the strategy was to provide the best value for high-end products in order to create a distinct position in the market.
- Tell us a little about how your products are sourced, what is the quality quotient and how much time does it take per saree to be hand-painted and ready?
Resources procured are of high quality & premium purity. Fabrics & other raw materials are sourced from the length & breadth of our country. Each hand painted piece, with all the processing, takes over a week to be fully prepared. Sarees have always been a symbol of elegance & grace. The motto is to never compromise on the material; Mrs. Pleats is co-designed with the highly skilled artisans of our country, with artworks inspired by nature.
The target of the brand is to provide customers with value for money products; Mrs. Pleats strives for excellent craftsmanship which people would love to buy without a second thought.
- Would you mind sharing your financial investment and the turnover that you have earned or are looking forward to earning?
My motto is to build a minimal asset-based company by going online. This will reduce the burden that most start-ups feel of the initial investments. The finances differ from idea to idea thus giving the specifics would be deceptive. The focus right now is to aim for a large customer base and expand my loyal customer base who love my brand and targeting the above will not only aid in achieving excellent numbers but will also help in creating the brand presence & brand value that I am hoping for.
- A start-up business can be majorly successful or dauntingly unsuccessful. How did you decide to take the plunge and chose to start your own business?
Start-up businesses have a history of a hit and miss, but I’d say it’s all about the belief. All the hits in a start-up industry have offered customers something new and have managed to fill a gap that nobody realised ever existed.
As for the current trying times, when all the industries that have been deeply affected due to the pandemic and businesses of all sizes faced several challenges; my goal has been to build a brand that continuously adapts to any forthcoming-challenges. The product that I am selling is of a higher quality than what currently exists in the market and will awaken the lost love of sarees in the hearts of Indian women. I am very confident in the products that I am creating and sooner rather than later I hope to have a checkmark for Mrs. Pleats at the hits column among the start-up industry.
- What is the plan ahead for Mrs. Pleats in terms of growth, investment, new products, etc?
I am in my first year of creating my own brand and Mrs. Pleats is at its infancy phase. Growing a happy customer base at every step via online portals is the everyday plan, while we continue to keep creating & experimenting on new numbers. We aim at growing gradually & organically with every piece and look forward to offering an expressive language that sarees hold of its own. Next, I’ll be launching a prêt-à–porter label. The readers and our customer base will soon get to experience my sister label ‘Lapels & Pleats’ which will excite customers with trendy menswear & womenswear.
- Would you like to share some advice to budding start-ups or to someone that has a business idea and is contemplating it?
To put it in the simplest of ways, “Have a vision & take action!”. Several great ideas and potentials are lost in the age-old question of What If? or How to? Thus, have faith in yourself and your ideas and strive for excellence always.