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Women in Retail- It’s not easy to enter an industry where you don’t know anyone: Dipti Tolani of Salt Attire 

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Dipti Tolani, founder and chief executive officer, Salt Attire takes us through her journey of building a women’s premium fashion brand

Mumbai: Dipti Tolani began her journey as an entrepreneur in 2017. She entered a segment where she didn’t have connections or a network. For her, it was literally weaving together a business, one stitch at a time.

Five years into the business the founder and chief executive officer of the women’s premium fashion brand Salt Attire, is a respected name in the Indian fashion market both by peers and customers.

The brand currently has three stores in Mumbai and one in Gurugram and is planning for more retail expansion in the coming years.

On Women’s Day 2023, while speaking to IndiaRetailing, Dipti Tolani gets candid about her entrepreneurial journey and how the brand holds women’s empowerment in high regard. She even shares her experience and advice with young and budding retailers who wish to build a career in the market.

What was the vision behind launching the brand?

The idea and vision behind Salt Attire was to build a one-stop shop that provides a high-quality wardrobe solution for professional women. We offer tailored fits and are moving to customization as well. But I would say, our USP would be our trousers.

The demand for such clothing is only likely to increase as more women are entering the workforce. I conceptualized a one-stop store for 9 am-9 pm clothing needs, where any piece of clothing that you pick, could be worn to both work and after.

Salt Attire store
Salt Attire store

What was your journey like?

I experienced that there was a gap in the Indian market when it comes to high-quality business casual and work wear for women.

After understanding what working women want out of their clothes and what’s available, I started digging into the reasons why the gap exists.

I started asking myself about what could be done better. Some core factors such as design, fabric selection and fit stood out clearly. I did a lot of ground research and studied the industry and the designing process in detail. I remember making a list of manufacturers on Google maps and going from manufacturer to manufacturer in Noida and Gurugram, literally driving around and knocking on doors until I found someone who referred me to another person, with whom I made my first four garments.

I would sit with the workers watching them craft the garment from a design sketch I provided. This experience gave me a lot of operational and business insights, ranging from tailoring wages to workflow, from designing a clothing item to its implementation.

That was how we began and then the first store, the second, store, then the third and the fourth. We are focused on retail expansion currently and are looking to open stores.

Being a woman entrepreneur is challenging… 

Yes, and you need a good support system around you. I have been lucky to have that. My family and friends have been extremely supportive in my journey.

One piece of advice you received before you began that changed your life?

One major piece of advice would be: To not be rigid with an idea, or method; one should be flexible enough to learn to pivot. And once an idea/method is proven, you should stick to it with utmost discipline.

Which is a better platform for a budding retail fashion brand to grow: high streets, shopping malls or e-commerce? 

It absolutely depends on your product, price point and customer. A lot of products, apart from fashion or even some fashion products are preferred to be bought online. But given fashion, a lot of customers still prefer the touch and feel of the garment, the fit of the garments or how it would look on them; they want to try out garments.

In our case, a lot of our customers enjoy shopping offline since they get to try their garments, feel our fabrics, and understand the fit better.

Which are the 3 main challenges a woman has to face when she enters fashion retail? 

Some of the challenges that one would face entering a retail market (irrespective of a female or male) would be:

  1. Launching a new brand: A new brand has its own challenges. While some customers may find it exciting, some customers and retailers would even be sceptical about it.
  2. Building a retail network: It is not always easy to enter an industry where you don’t know anyone so manoeuvring through the network is a skill you need to develop.
  3. Setting up operations: Streamlining back-end operations to meet customer demands and sell-through is extremely important and challenging. Adding the right tech systems in place helps fulfil this demand.

This Women’s Day, how is Salt Attire planning to make its customers feel special? 

We, at Salt Attire, hold women’s empowerment in high regard. For Women’s Day, we met women from different walks of life, who have had their struggles and still continue to excel in their journey despite all the hardships. We spoke to them and captured their journey to share with our followers on social media.

Rapid fire

Categories you’re planning to add? We will add more accessories from bags, and shoes, to belts, jewellery, and things that will help a woman complete the whole look.

Business from different channels. We are an omnichannel player. Our offline retail business accounts for almost 41% of the overall business.

Top selling categories/products? Dresses and Pants.

New In-store experiences planned: We do have complimentary stylist sessions. A customer can book an appointment online, mention all the issues she is facing while shopping or mention the things she is looking for, and visit our store to meet the stylist, who will work with the customer to resolve all the issues and help her shop.

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