“Why not wear a saree over dinner tomorrow? Nah it’s so made for oldies.” If not anything then at least this is something we all might have overheard or said for that matter in our day to day lives. Saree, which always has been considered as the symbol of beauty and elegance is many times underestimated in the name of fashion. To withstand and re-establish the love for saree among the common public and introduce it back in our daily lives, two ladies namely Ms. Sujata and Ms. Taniya came up with an idea of opening ‘SUTA’.
The brand SUTA is a fresh design house that centres on creating a range of attire with a blend of tradition and contemporaneity. The brand name Suta consists of ‘Su from Sujata’ and ‘Ta from Taniya’, meaning thread. Ms. Sujata and Ms. Taniya came up with an idea to start with this venture in 2015. Considering the heights Suta has reached in the tenure of 6 years; it is almost impossible to believe that none of the founders is from Textile Background. And this statement stands true for almost every core member of Suta. Ms. Sujata completed her engineering from CET, Bhubaneswar and Ms. Taniya did her engineering from NIT, Rourkela. Both of them are MBAs from IIFT, Delhi and IIM, Lucknow respectively.
Ms. Reshmi Menon, the General Manager- Marketing and PR of Suta described how working in corporative worked as an eye-opener for both Su and Ta. Having been in a corporate sector for years triggered that itch in them to start something unique and fascinating. They came up with the idea of Sarees to stand against the stereotypes that it is handy and suited only for the older generation. They wanted to try to make saree more of a regular and easy to go attire. “People think of sarees as occasional wear that one can get into only for a marriage mostly. Our vision was to make them part of our day to day life. Also, the fact that we encountered so many ladies who wanted to get sarees but were unable to find the ones of their liking,” said Ms. Reshmi.
Vocal for Local is something we all might have come across with the #instatrendsbut these people were way ahead of time. Being completely new to this industry, was no less than a roller coaster ride. Starting from scratch was not easy and getting betrayed bagged the first position on this list. Initially, when they started looking out for sourcing in the local markets of Mumbai, they experienced a massive amount of loss due to lack of experience. “While taking any raw material for clothing there is this shrinkage margin which is to be taken into account. Being the new-bees in the market, Su and Ta had no clue about the same. They once purchased a 3-4lacs raw material from a vendor for skirts. Now for skirts, the minimum length one needs is at least 6 meters. So, keeping in mind the shrinkage margin; one must purchase a 6.5-meter cloth. But the vendor did not inform them about the same and took a whole amount for 6-meter material but sent a 5.5-meter material after washing it once. “So, basically what happened was we paid for 6 meters and received 5.5 meters when we required 6.5 meters of cloth in the first place. And when we got back to the vendor he came up with the entire shrinkage margin thing,” recalls Reshmi.
Founders being female also proved to be a great hindrance in the very beginning. Also, they have about 60-70% females in their team. On the very first step, it was difficult for them to get the weavers and artisans to work for them. Every time they used to ask for work they received things like – “It’s no more than just a hobby for you ladies.” “This thing won’t work for long.” It took a lot of strength to deal with such stereotypes. Moving ahead of the production stage when they went out in the market looking for selling out their products, vendors used to question them stuff like “Where is your boss? Yes, yes you’re the founders but where is the Sir from your company. Madams; they aren’t capable of running a company and dealing with stuff.”
Despite all these hurdles they proved themselves and came out even stronger. With their families and friends on their side to guide them during every step, they were able to establish their company as a successful one. With an investment of 3lacs each, they have dispatched around 4lacs+ sarees to date. Suta started drawing salaries to its employees from the very first day itself and therefore can be called profitable from day 1. They had a passion to employ as many weavers and artisans as they could and now they have around 15,000 weavers and artisans working for them.
The first celeb cheque that they received was in the name of Dharma Productions. Ms Reshmi recalls how a girl came running into a 10x10 room they used to work in with a picture asking for the saree in the picture. That girl was Karan Johar’s stylist and that saree was later worn by Kiara Ali Advani in a Netflix series. Currently, they are looking forward to diversifying their categories by introducing Men’s wear, Dresses, Home Décor and much more
Suta from the very beginning had a Hybrid Culture as a result of which COVID wasn’t much of an issue for them. They had their hands on managing things online already. Also, one of the reasons for such work was to give a chance to all the talented people who couldn’t come to Mumbai. Their social media team comprises individuals from Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and even Nepal. COVID did hit them in the initial 2 months of 2020 but they constantly motivated their team by keeping them busy by planning games and activities. They even welcomed new artisans to their team who were unemployed due to the rising COVID cases. They planned their moves strategically and manufactured their products beforehand to get back with a bang as soon as things start getting back to normal.
A message from Ms. Reshmi Menon on behalf of team Suta, “At last, one must always believe in himself, as cliché, as it may sound chasing your dreams, is as important as anything else in this whole wide world. Nothing else matters if you dream, works hard towards it and at the end of the day accomplish it.”
- Team SATYAVACHAN
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