The Woman Who Is Redefining Comfortable Fashion
Bygone are the days when making a fashion statement was all about wearing blingy attires with a pair of stilettos. Today, fashion is more about feeling comfortable and content in your look and one such trailblazing woman entrepreneur who is holding the baton of redefining fashion in the country is Prakruti Gupta, the brain behind fashion brand – The Kaftan Company.
A woman of perseverance and optimism, Prakruti faced a lot of challenges while reaching the zenith of success. During her trail, she fought her way through cancer and eventually laid the foundation stone of The Kaftan Company along with her husband and ever since then, the duo has been redefining comfort fashion with utmost grace and elegance. From shattering the myth of Kaftaan being synonymous with a nighty to breaking the conventional stereotypes in this male-dominated society, Prakruti has emerged as a phenomenal woman who is inspiring many women across the country.
However, that’s not all about what makes her journey inspiring – another noteworthy trait about Prakruti is her firm belief in practicing sustainable fashion and contributing her bit to the environment. And the same translates in their day-to-day operations, right from design developments to production and dispatching, which are largely driven by sustainable practices and are widely appreciated by their clientele.
Read further to know more about Prakruti’s journey as a woman entrepreneur, her pillars of support, and her take on the conventional stereotypes about women that are plaguing the society even in the present arena.
Converting Challenges into Opportunities
One of the biggest challenges for Prakruti while launching the brand was around educating her customers on the unique attributes of kaftans. However, she took this challenge in positive stride and eventually turned it into an opportunity.
“At first, the assumption around the attire was that it is simply a nighty. However, there is a lot more to it in terms of fabric options, unique in-house digital prints, and most of all – comfort. As a loungewear brand, it was important for us to share the positive aspects of being in a kaftan wherein one can be comfortable and stylish all the time. We had to educate people that nightwear doesn’t have to be boring, and people should look good even in their own personal spaces; and that it is not always true that fit bodies and tight fitted clothes alone can make someone look pretty. Even flowing kaftans can accentuate any body type and you must live free and keep your bodies happy and comfortable. We spent the first two years sharing this message and clarifying any misinformation around the product through various social media channels and blogs. We also built general awareness with the help and support of new and upcoming influencers. Once the first lockdown of the pandemic occurred, celebrities shared that kaftan were their favourite attire to lounge around at home and this put forward the positive message we wanted to send across,” she informs.
Pressing Issues for Women Entrepreneurs
“I think the foremost issue is around building networks. I feel that in a predominantly male driven industry, young women entrepreneurs tend to not be taken as seriously. Hence, it takes time to build a good network and ensure that the enterprise runs smoothly. It takes longer to build trust within these networks and be respected as an equal,” shares Prakruti.
The Pillars of Support
While talking about her pillars of support and her mantra for striking an adequate work life balance, Prakruti affirms, “I have received immense family support throughout my journey as an entrepreneur. My husband and parents have supported my initiatives with the business as well as in terms of taking care of the children when needed. Selecting a production unit near my house has allowed me to conveniently balance between home requirements and workdays. Further, building a strong team has helped me delegate work and ensure that operations can still run efficiently and be managed from home.”
The Conventional Stereotypes
Read further to hear Prakruti’s take on the conventional stereotypes about women that are plaguing society even in the present arena.
- Slut Shaming: A woman being judged, based on her appearance, clothing, relationships or how she dresses up. Her status, job profile, working hours, academic credentials, aspirations, or her disposition is used to make judgments about her. All her achievements get undermined by a single sentence, and most of the time, the abusers are women themselves.
- Body Shaming: Although we’re all born imperfect, as a society, we insist on striving to achieve “perfection”, especially when it comes to the way we look. Whether in movies, magazines, on TV, or on social media, it has become the norm to see a multitude of ads for weight loss supplements, how to get those 6 pack abs, or the perfect beach body with an increase in the issue of Body Shamming, your take on this.
Even in 2022, there are many who aspire for a “certain” exterior appearance and appeal and social media platforms have only increased anxiety among younger women. However, we are also seeing an increase in inclusivity where even brands like Victoria’s Secret have changed their perception of the “ideal” woman to wear their products. Globally, there are many up and coming influencers who are confident of themselves even though they don’t have thin figures and the perfect bodies. They portray a positive stance towards inclusivity. Many are appreciating this initiative and following/supporting these influencers. However, a near-complete acceptance is something that will take time to evolve, and I hope the trend continues to include all body types within the fashion world. I think as fashion entrepreneurs, we need to be aware and mindful of this type of influence and should find ways to be more inclusive with our products as well as advertisements and campaigns.
- In comparison to men, women’s abilities are often mocked whereas men usually drive drunk: Unfortunately, I have to agree with this observation. The superiority of men at the workplace and household is still prevalent to a large degree simply because of their gender. Opportunities for women to be educated and prove themselves in the workplace were very limited in earlier days. Despite the increase in literacy rate among women and opportunities across industries, it still seems like a lot of work is needed to help more of them take leadership roles. It is still very difficult for a woman to be respected for her abilities, even to this day. Thus, as women entrepreneurs, we need to empower more in our team(s) and encourage them to grow. This is just a start to help women showcase their abilities and reduce the likelihood of being mocked.
- Women are often blamed for playing the victim card: This is a serious issue in my opinion with the major concern being for those who are genuinely facing trouble in the workplace as women. They tend to get disregarded and “stereotyped” as playing victim to a situation, thanks to other women who often play the victim card. I feel that women in today’s day and age can and should be stronger and self-reliant than find a reason to play the victim card. The word ‘Feminism’ is also misunderstood. When we talk about feminism, it is about equal opportunities and the upliftment of women’s status in society. It is not about looking down upon men or superiority. I think unless both men and women understand this, there will always be an issue of women being considered victims or portrayed as one.
Prakruti Gupta, Co-Founder, The Kaftan Company