The Kaftan: Company that's created niche biz & more
This startup entrepreneur brings exclusive kaftans into the market that once used to be the rage in the days of yore
Kaftans are trending now in the world of fashion and the founder of 'The Kaftan Company' Prakruti Gupta Rao brings exclusive customised kaftans and other kind of clothes into the market. In an exclusive chat with Bizz Buzz, she takes us through her entrepreneurial journey vis-a-vis tells us more about the trending fashion wear.
Can you talk about your company and its speciality?
We are 'The Kaftan Company', a fashion brand created in 2016 that uses the timeless elegance of a kaftan silhouette in our creations. We also manufacture the apparel for kaftans wherein the business and production operations take place in Hyderabad. Presently, we are primarily a digital brand retailing our collection via our own website www.thekaftancompany.com and we have many online channel partners such as Myntra, Ajio, TataCliq, Shoppers Stop, Zivame and several others.
What makes us unique is that we have our innovative kaftans across multiple categories-- loungewear, maternity wear, kids kaftans and many more. We use very intricate original digital prints that are difficult to replicate, giving us the signature we need to be recognised in the fashion space.
When did you start your company and how did you get the idea of designing kaftans?
We began the fashion brand in 2016. Previous to that we were bulk production manufacturers for other companies such as Arvind Retail, Madhura Garments, Land Mark Group and Pantaloons. After a period of learning the operational needs for development and production, we embarked on the entrepreneurial journey of establishing our own brand. While we observed that thousands of brands produce western wear and ethnic wear, we identified a niche for kaftans and decided to be different and re-introduce this wonderful garment.
For starting the company did you apply for a bank loan?
We self-funded this enterprise and believed in steady, long growth plans as part of our vision. So our initial savings from earlier business and subsequent earnings later were used in re-investing in the company to continue our growth.
Can you tell us about the struggles and challenges you faced during the start-up phase of the store?
Our initial challenge when we began was educating people on the concept of a kaftan. How it is unique for its versatile attributes of comfort, style and elegance. We explained about its inclusivity for all body types and also its sustainability in nature with virtually zero waste in the production process.
We spent the first 2 years sharing this message and we also realised that we were focusing on a niche, rather than something mainstream, making it riskier still as a startup. As fortunes would have it, kaftans are now mainstream since the pandemic ensured loungewear, becomes popular and we are happy to have been the first to re-introduce kaftans to the fashion world in the country.
Another challenge we faced initially was, understanding the digital space and marketing to the relevant audience. This takes time and continuous learning even to this day as new avenues and methods to reach the customer are created.
Apart from kaftans do you also design other type of dresses?
We make other types of garments using the kaftan silhouette as best as possible with our styles. We also produce pyjama lounge sets, maternity wear, party wear and kids wear in which comfort and lounge attributes are the main focus, without compromising on style.
As a digital brand, much of our focus to market our products is via platforms such as Google and Facebook for advertising. Additional support is garnered via social media platforms such as Instagram with the occasional aid of influencers.
What are the price ranges and how different is your product?
Our prices start from Rs 1,299 for regular lounge wear, wherein the quality of the garment is not compromised at any cost.
What is your opinion about setting a startup business? What would be your advice to those who want to start a business?
If you have a dream and a clear vision, then you must pursue this with a startup. There will be times when you question the concept, be challenged by external forces, take on much sacrifice of you and your team. These are the points where you must persevere and realise the larger goal of achieving your dream and to never give up.
Do you think rules and procedures should be more entrepreneur-friendly? If so what exactly should it be?
I think there is always room for improvement when it comes to rules and procedures. It is a dynamic concept that needs to change with the times. While some of the rules are quite transparent and easier than it was, I do believe it can be better organised and centralised using digital technology. A composition of the necessary paperwork and permissions sector-wise that allows us to clearly understand the requirements as an entrepreneur is very important.