For entrepreneur Kanika Jain, it took her years to learn the details of fashion to build her ten year old brand, Kanelle.
Born and raised in Delhi, her mother, Renu Jain, made beautiful clothes, which got her interested in fashion and design.
A graduate in Marketing Management from Middlesex University in London, Kanika couldn’t give up on her dream of being part of the fashion industry.
“After the master’s degree, it didn’t make sense to do another fashion degree, but I took certificate courses that gave me insight into how the fashion industry works,” she says. .
In early 2009, she returned to India and worked on a few design and styling projects before founding– a brand specializing in women’s fashion in India – in 2011.
Overcome the challenges
Kanika began at a time when most Indians were not ready for online businesses. It has also become difficult for her to work without any connection to the fashion industry.
While running the business as a one-woman army with the support of her mother, Kanika learned to manage everything – from finding karigars, design and assemble a complete collection, manufacture and market the products, handle finances, marketing and promotions.
“Learning on the job took years and didn’t happen overnight,” she adds. Engaging and communicating with local artisans was also a challenge in the initial phase. Although fluent in Hindi, Kanika is said to be unaware of certain terminologies and struggles to convey her design ideas.
Kanika isn’t shy about talking about the challenges she faced as she felt like she needed to hear stories of challenges to overcome while going through them.
Working with a team of less than 20 people, his Kanelle brand began to gain recognition by launching several collections. At an average price of Rs 6,000, the brand offers kurta sets, tunics, saris, dresses, jumpsuits, skirts, tops, pants, etc.
As a Direct-to-Customer (D2C) brand, Kanelle operates on a hybrid model and has an online and offline presence. Besides its website, its products are available in e-commerce marketplaces including Nykaa, Aza Fashions, and Amazon.
Its products are also available at several multi-brand stores and designer outlets in 10 cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Raipur.
In 2018, the brand was selected to participate in New York Fashion Week, where Kanika presented Kanelle’s collection, Blue Jean Baby, inspired by Lady Diana’s feminism.
Navigate the market
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for most businesses, and Kanelle is no exception. The entrepreneur says the business has slowed amid the nationwide lockdown and the brand has been unable to work with its weavers.
Started so far, the brand has worked with various groups of artisans on a project basis and has now started collaborating with them again for their next collection.
“Fortunately, the business picked up as most people took to online activities and spent more time on social media,” Kanika said.
The D2C market for women’s clothing, she adds, is all the more competitive. According to Statista, the women’s clothing market in India is expected to reach $ 39 billion by 2025.
Due to logistical barriers, exporting brands started selling in the domestic market, as well as many local brands that emerged during the lockdown.
Although Kanika believes that these brands are not direct competitors, they occupy the majority of the market space, providing more choices for consumers. “But I take the competition positively because that’s where you learn and perform best,” she jokes. Some of the top brands of women’s clothing include FabAlley and Berrylush, among others.
Recently, Kanelle launched a range of fragrances, and the brand is looking for more opportunities in this niche segment.
Based on its current sales and growth, Kanelle plans to venture into different portfolios in the fragrance and beauty industry.
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