Manali Shenoy Kamat: India’s First Corporate Kurtas for Women

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Name: Manali Shenoy Kamat

Business: Indian Concepts 

Location: Goa, India

Industry: Apparel & Accessories 

Reason for starting? I worked in the corporate world for some years before starting off my own venture. It was after the birth of my daughter that I decided to start Indian Concepts in 2012. Because of a lack of flexibility in full-time jobs and a lack of good day-care facilities for babies, here I am today, a first generation woman entrepreneur handling three babies – two being my biological ones and the other Indian Concepts. And I love every bit of it!

During my research for a business idea, I remembered how difficult it was during my corporate days to shop for decent kurtas to wear to work. The gaudily embroidered kurtas and jazzy printed kurtis did not suit the sophisticated corporate environment. I was thus left with no choice but to wear tight fitting western wear that restricted free movement of the body during work. I had also noticed my colleagues facing similar issues while shopping for comfortable office wear. Thus, Indian Concepts was born. We aim to provide comfortable “corporate kurtas” for women.

Related: Read about another female entrepreneur working in fashion here. 

How do you define success? Success cannot be defined in any specific way, but I would say success is simply reaching to a place where you want to be. One should take pride in doing well in whatever it is that they do. If you are willing to work hard, success will always come your way. It’s the choices you make that construct your success and future. You can choose to become a victim or you can choose to make decisions to empower yourself. A healthy motivation is important for success. You cannot have success if you do not know what it means for you. Everyone views success differently and using someone else’s standard for success is not the right way. Setting clear goals and being realistic is important.

Biggest success: We received a very positive response from our target segment — corporate women –within a month after launching our brand online. Today, it feels amazing to know we have our customer base all across India and abroad. Not only the metropolitan crowd, but also professionals and women  working in different sectors buy our kurtas online.

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? It was challenging for me as I didn’t know from where to procure readymade stitched kurtas according to my specifications, as there was no source available. I didn’t want to manufacture in the early days, as that would mean heavy investment in machinery, labour and designs. The quantities ordered were less than what it takes to cover the price of raw material, stitching from suppliers, garment manufacturers would have been difficult. Paying exorbitant margins to sell our kurtas was not a viable option either. So I started working with people who needed work and could deliver quality stuff. We started with a lean structure and a majority of the work was outsourced. This gave me greater flexibility in operations, while ensuring competitive pricing for the products. Only value-added activities like procurement, product development, designing and marketing was being done in-house, with voluntary support by my husband who has assisted me with marketing and finance.

Related: How School Lunch Trash Inspired Two Moms to Start an Eco-Cool Business 

Who is your most important role model? I feel every woman entrepreneur is my role model. Women face many more challenges than men, and overcoming these challenges without affecting the family life is a huge task. Women are born with an ability to multitask, and learning from such role models is an inspiration to me everyday.

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Edited by The Story Exchange

Posted: September 6, 2017

Victoria FlexnerManali Shenoy Kamat: India’s First Corporate Kurtas for Women