Vajor is a refreshing break from the monotony of this industry. A youthful brand created solely to bridge the gap between run of the mill ready-to-wear and high fashion, the brand aims to build a community of independent, mature and free-spirited people who are non-conformists and driven individuals. In an exclusive interview with IMAGES BoF, Founder and CEO, Vajor, Nathasha AR Kumar speaks about the concept behind the brand, its positioning, commitment to sustainability and more.
Tell us in short about Vajor — the concept behind it, it’s genesis and core strength.
“A brand for the independent minds, the kind hearts and the nomadic souls.” We live and breath this very motto. Vajor came into being in 2014 with a very clear concept in mind. Observations revealed how the market is filled with either off-the-rack clothing or luxury couture. And there is a wide valley in between these two. It was high time somebody built a bridge!
As an e-commerce women’s wear fashion and lifestyle brand, we have a very specific goal. We deliver sustainable fashion and decor to consumers with an assurance of unmatched quality, fair price, comfort, modesty, international appeal and superior aesthetics.
Tell us about the V-Blog and the concept behind it. What percentage of consumers that come to the site navigate the blog? And had there been times when people have navigated from the blog to a specific product? Are the bloggers in-house?
Content is the new social currency and thus, an extreme amount of creativity and technicality goes into developing a visual picture that does justice to the brand and its commodities. Everything that goes onto the blog is governed by a unified language and every written word, image or video we create embodies that language. We believe our community is about people who are doing immensely more than just fashion. And so, the stories we narrate on the blog all talk about various aspects of our consumer’s lifestyle. We often tell stories of a muse on the blog. This muse is not only a true Vajor consumer in her personality but she is also a medium through which we can connect to our target market.
An average of 20 per cent website visitors navigate to the blog. Our blog has a Shop The Look segment with every post that guides our readers to particular products featured on the blog as well as related products. We have a dedicated content team that builds strategies and creates blog posts. These blog posts talk about the latest collections, fashion and decor trends, travel and lifestyle, etc.
What is your brand USP and its target audience. How do you differentially position your brand vis-a-vis others that serve the same consumer segment?
Our USP is that we launch a new collection every month, keeping with the fast pace of this industry and eliminating the barriers of seasonal fashion. The online fashion market is growing with every passing day and what sets us apart is our ability to deliver an experience along with an impressive product.
Our target audience comprises of modern, independent, mature and confident cosmopolitan individuals in the age group of 25-40 who fall into the SEC-A group.
The brand has its own identity which is about being organic and rooted in its approach. We are aware of the concerns of our consumers and are providing them fashion that is body friendly and a platform which is trustworthy. Our monthly collections set us apart from other brands who are mostly doing 3-4 collections in a year. This way, we give our consumers the best of their fashion demands without being monotonous.
Tell us about your product basket and about latest collection in women’s wear.
Vajor.com has everything the consumer needs in the fashion and lifestyle segment right from clothing, shoes, accessories, to decor. Our latest collection is the June collection called Summer Vibes. The collection arrives as a soothing drizzle of freshness. The key features of the collection are comfort and balance. The collection features a soothing colour palette of whites and pastels with beautiful, bright floral embroidery. The idea behind this collection is to give versatility to one’s wardrobe by creating pieces that are effortless everyday styles and double up as comfortable breezy vacation outfits! The collection also brings lovely jewellery, scarfs, sunglasses and beach cover-ups to help complete the looks.
Featuring a colour palette full of cool blues, washed out greys and blacks, earthy reds, greens and browns, as well as vivid pinks and rich yellows with a pop of neon, the hues revolve around a simplistic nature with little bursts of quirk. The collection features a soothing appeal characterised by the serene whites that dominate the overall colour scheme. With intricate embroideries surfacing the clothing in floral patterns, a smidge of summer is added to the vibe of the collection. The prints too are a tessellation of tiny, elegant motifs that fill up the garments, giving them a minimal chic look. We’ve combined geometric designs like lines, polka dots, pinstripes and zigzags with traditionals like Ajrakh, Ikat, and a few other tribal styles to deliver fashion that is not just contemporary but also versatile.
Your website states that sustainability is a core strand of your brand. How all do you support sustainability?
Absolutely!! The April collection, Elements, comprised largely of apparel that was made with 100 per cent natural and eco-friendly fabrics from Liva (Aditya Birla Group). We ensure that in our manufacturing processes, harmful chemicals are not being used in dyeing processes. Wastage of fabric is controlled and minimized. The left-over scrap is recycled and reused. A hygenic and safe environment is maintained for all the workers in the manufacturing unit. During April 2017, Vajor.com donated 5 per cent of the amount of each order received to an organization called Grow-trees.com that will plant 1,000 trees on behalf of the brand. The brand is working on a documentary revolving around ‘Bee Harvesting’ and its significance towards a greener Earth.
Apart from this, we change our packaging to minimize the use of plastic as much as possible, hand out plants and seeds instead of the usual gifts, maintain a green office space, and routinely share updates across Vajor.com’s social media handles to encourage and inspire a green lifestyle.
How would you compare metros and Tier-I and Tier-II cities vis-a-vis sales? Could you specify the regions that are your strongest markets?
We are now strong in the metros. Say about 85 per cent of interaction happens from Delhi NCR , Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Sales are eventually also catching up in Kolkata and other Tier-I cities like Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Jaipur, etc.
How much cross buying do you see in your website in general — people coming for fashion going to the lifestyle to shoes and accessories or decor and vice versa. Is cross buying a strong pull?
Vajor has invested around 1.5 years in understanding the need gap in the Indian scenario. This allowed us in understanding our consumers and their needs well. Infact launching the new vertical- Décor, was a natural progression in this manner. So far, we have seen very encouraging response from our existing customers. Infact 30 per cent of our customers are buying décor and accessories as well. The topical nature of our goods makes sure that it addresses their current need, which works out well for both the brand and the consumer.
Our main focus and core product line is clothing, which brings in around 80 per cent of our revenue. In the future, we see apparel to be dominant with décor doing marginally better.
You launch a new collection every month. Tell us about the design merchandise team that makes this possible. Also, tell us about the cycle — how long back do you start the whole process?
We start with year long roadmap and derive quarter based plans from there. Launching a new collection every month remains our success mantra.This involves working on tight timelines. Basis the selected theme, the designing of the whole collection needs to wrap up 30-45 days in advance, which is done in-house. Post this, the shoot and the production is carried out. Interim 10 days are taken to have the brand and product communication and the monthly plan ready. The whole system is a clock work and all teams — design, merchandise, content, marketing and technology, have to be in complete sync to meet the deadlines.
You shared in IFF 2017 that the right styling, right colours and the right background is very important to attract the right customer while selling online. Kindly elaborate.
The digital world is lacking in just one sense right now — the touch and feel (this too we are sure will be taken care of in time). The visual impact, whether it’s the styling part or the colour palettes, needs to be enticing for a person to know more about it. Internally we strongly feel its not a product image but a lifestyle that we are promoting. Hence we spend lot of time on the whole set up and making sure on the final outcome as this forms the basis of all of our communication — both online and offline.
It is also heard that you engage in a lot of events and activities. Could you tell us about 3 initiatives that rendered the maximum response for you.
Events is an important part of brand building for us and we take
care of it through 3Cs – Communities, Content and Collaborations. We try our best to engage with people from different walks of life and create relevant experiences. We recently held our first offline event Summer Affaire, to introduce Vajor and the product line to bloggers and media professionals and it was received very well . Also, we do collaborations with other communities, like the one we did with Gurgaon Moms. We went beyond just placing a stall and created a topical content (a mother’s day video in this case), which again rendered good views on social platforms. On the B2B front, we have collaborated with TIE and SheThePeople.TV as corporate sponsors in the past.
Tell us about your expansion plans. Can we expect physical stores in the near future? If yes, which city would be your first choice?
Yes, Vajor has always believed in an Omnichannel way of running the brand. Hence, we will be expanding in the domestic as well as international markets this year. Under domestic expansion, Vajor is getting into retail from September 2017 onwards. The first two stores are both going to be in Delhi NCR region and we will be expanding to more metros in the next 6-9 months. Vajor is moving ahead with a geo expansion plan wherein, we will be looking at various channels and ensure our presence internationally in around 3-4 countries by the end of this financial year. This will be made possible through few collaborations, international marketplaces and local vendors.
Tell us about your milestones in the last two and a half years.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, we have had an organic growth of 200 per cent Y-O-Y. We’ve had a positively strong quantitative growth, wherein, 45 per cent of the existing customers are frequent and loyal shoppers. Qualitatively, we have been able to expand from apparel to décor as well. This increases our reach into the consumer and has opened a whole new segment. We have stayed true to our product quality and its pricing and have maintained the customer satisfaction without any compromises.