Indian Beautiful Arts was founded in 2009 to bridge the gap of global trade in the Indian industry for e-commerce platforms with the goal of exporting Indian products. They started selling embellishments like trims and appliqués, which lead to selling full, readymade clothes in more than ten international markets.
Nitin Kapoor started the company as a response to the waste and pollution of the fashion industry. Each garment is cut, printed and shipped on demand. He started the business at the age of 32 with $1 million and developed the "Just In Time" technology over the course of two years.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual moment to start Indian Beautiful Arts?
I would say we have gradually matured to the thought of pivoting the business model, wherein due course, we understood the dynamics of the fashion world and changed our system internally to be more sustainable for the future.
To get a ‘wow’ moment for the customer, we tried to introduce new designs every day. We did not realize the mountain of inventory we had accumulated out of our profits. After a few prosperous years, the liquidation of unsold inventory was required for the capital to be plowed back into fresh designs. We realized this is a loop that would end us up in the great soup, and from there, the idea of creating garments to order was conceived & we started working on the concept.
How did you validate the idea?
The challenge in the JIT concept is that the product is being made after the order has punched in from an AR image shown to the customer, so we need to ensure the color matches the screen when we produce the garment.
When the positive feedback started flowing in from the customer, and they were in our stores for repeat purchases, the validation of the product quality was confirmed. In the backend, we were able to save costs due to process automation in the manufacturing of garments.
What are the benefits of the new technology you developed?
"We will change the way the world shops for garments." That's the tagline we keep repeating today as we have invented a new technology in TexTech (Textile Technology).
The benefits of Just In Time Manufacturing are that it removes mass-production of any product before it is demanded by the customer. Further, it eliminates all kinds of waste – inventory, transportation, electricity, gas, water, and other resources.
What regulatory approvals did you have to go through?
When we started, doing business in India was not so easy. Many regulatory issues like Provident fund for employees, Insurances, Factory license, Labour laws all had to be in place when we commercially started, and it wasn’t easy for a start-up in those days to get the approvals. I would say it’s still an issue that needs to be worked out by the government, which they are currently working on.
Who is your target demographic?
We are targeting women primarily in the age group of 20-45 in all the sizes, i.e., small to XXXXL. Further, with the JIT process, we plan to create garments for men, children & maternity clothing.
How did you get your first three customers?
We started with our website and e-com sites like eBay and went from there. Interestingly, our first customer had a long association with us and bought multiple products. Today, IBA has shipped more than 1 million products to more than 136 countries. The company boasts a steady base of 500,000 customers around the world.
How did you fund the idea initially?
We started the company in a 10 x 10 ft room without leaving our jobs as a part-time business. We funded the company with our salaries from our jobs.
But, when one of my bank clients (HNI) heard about the concept, they lent us $30,000 USD to fund it full time which motivated us to leave our jobs and go into business.
Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team?
In total, we raised $60,000 USD from two Angel Investors. Both were serial entrepreneurs who have been in multiple projects in the past.
Any tips for finding the first employees?
I met one of my co-founders, Hema, in school. She did a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA). And the other co-founder was in my MBA program in college. He took an International business degree.
Did you run any companies prior?
When we started, start-up wasn’t a buzzword at all, and leaving an MNC job at that time was still a taboo compared with today. It was a big decision to leave the jobs, and the acceptance from friends and family was not there to start with.
What motivated you to start your own business?
The only motivation was to do something different and to get started. It was tough, but I do not regret the decision.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
Things surely go southwards and do not go as you plan, however, I believe you start with one problem at a time and keep on solving it, and then you get to go home. I mean, when you have solved a lot of issues you get back on to your goal path again.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting?
The advice which I would like to give others would be
- Find your passion
- Take the risk & believe in yourself
- Take Action & Execute
- Face your fears
- Invest time & it will happen.
What has driven the most sales?
We drive a lot of sales from global e-comm marketplaces that are more prominent in those particular locations. We are on our journey to create sustainable fashion in the coming future, where Just In Time (JIT) is the answer to the textile industry, and has a first-movers advantage. Now we’re looking for capital investment so we can go to the next level. We’d prefer to have a like-a minded investor with whom we can bring more value to the business.
How do you protect yourself from the competition?
We have JIT copyrighted with the Government of India, and have filed patents for technique and technology for Just In Time Garments Manufacturing.
Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?
Analytics in Technology used to bet on new styles that the customer would adopt for the next seasons and what would be the next trend in the market.
With this wearable technology, smart clothes are able to do a lot more compared with clothes today.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
We have created the technology in-house where we can create a real-life image for the garments with AR technology. Further, We use Adobe software to gain perfection for the cataloging process. The application and software we use is essential to restrict the cataloging/photoshoot cost for every single garment in each color or design.
What are your favorite books and podcasts?
- You Can Win - Shiv Khera
- Beyond The Valley - CNBC
What are the next products you’re working on?
We’ve so far crossed $5 million USD in revenues since starting, and would like to be the next company to achieve Unicorn status. We plan to start O2O (Online to Offline), where the customer can check a physical sample in a physical store before they buy.
With Omnichannel (O2O) becoming the trend, new concepts like visual trial rooms would be adopted in the retail sector in a big way. The big revelation with technology would be big data used scientifically to analyze customer buying habits, where the customer is now, and an SMS sent to customers when they pass by near locations of the retail stores.
Are there any releases you can tell us about?
I would answer this from a tech point of view, wherein we are working on videos. We feel that's the future, and we would soon launch AR/VR videos for cataloging.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
We vision the JIT model in the mainstream. It’s a sustainable model applicable to every category of product possible and would help the world by removing overproduction of goods. Natural resources cannot be exploited as it does more harm than good.
What is the current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing
We did 5 Million USD last year as the top line.
|Indian Beautiful Arts