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For Sarees to adopt a bullish approach in tier 2 and 3 cities- Founder Ritu Oberoi

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Since its inception in 2018, For Sarees has built a network of 500 weaver families across the country

Bengaluru: For Sarees is an online platform that works with rural artisans to produce affordable, authentic and high-quality fabrics and weaves by hand, and enables customers to buy these through a direct channel. The brand is thus changing the market traditionally dominated by a few large physical outlet-based retail channels.

Taking the plunge

Before starting For Sarees, Ritu Oberoi spent several years working in the media and advertising industry. There came a time when she decided to take a sabbatical and travel across India. “I visited a few craft villages, where I was surprised to see the immense skill and talent of the artisans living there. But I was shocked when I came to know that these people were unable to directly sell their products outside of events or exhibitions. As an ardent saree lover, I already knew of the struggle that women living in metros had to go through in their quest to buy pure handloom sarees. This was clearly a situation wherein the correct products were not reaching the audience looking for them,” explains Oberoi.

Identifying this market gap between demand and supply channels led Oberoi to leverage her sales and training experience to launch For Sarees in Mumbai in 2018. She aimed to build a social-driven business enterprise that would work closely with weavers and artisans in rural areas and bring skillfully-crafted sarees and other products to urban customers.

A growing business

Today, For Sarees, with its online platform for sustainable fabrics and weaves from across India, is one of the most promising saree brands in India. “We are providing customers with handcrafted sarees in the price range of Rs 1,200 to Rs 40,000. We have diversified our product offering by intervening at the design level and encouraging artisans to create new designs,” shares Oberoi.

The brand’s USP is its ability to identify the right artisans and create a supply chain that is devoid of intermediaries. “Like the farm-to-table concept in agriculture, we bring handicrafts directly from artisans to metro city buyers through our online platform. The products brought by For Sarees are affordable and authentic, which in turn makes our brand unique. What also sets us apart from other handloom brands is that we are not just running a business. We are organising developmental projects in the artisans’ clusters to benefit the overall ecosystem while also creating exquisite handlooms,” explains Oberoi. And the brand is doing all this while being bootstrapped. At For Sarees, the plan is to grow organically without any external financing.

Of course, there have been challenges too. “I was a white-collar professional working in a metro. From there, working at the grassroots level with artisans in rural India was a massive transition for me. Moreover, I had no roots in the fashion industry, and it took extensive research, study, and determination to build the brand and the artisan community,” says Oberoi. Ensuring a stable monthly income for the artisans working with the brand was also a challenge. “We had to ensure that there were no middlemen in the entire supply chain because we aimed to provide a better income for the artisans and offer a better price for the end consumers. My experience in sales came in handy in overcoming these challenges,” explains Oberoi.

The road ahead

The handloom sector is slated to grow by 20% annually. Oberoi is also of the view that there will be aggressive digital penetration in tier 3 and 4 towns across India. “These towns have always been a big market for sarees, and we are prepared to leverage this opportunity. Moreover, our vision is to continue popularising India’s traditional crafts in urban and modern set-ups, and we have already achieved significant breakthroughs with our brand,” adds Oberoi.

For Sarees also works with five new artist clusters every year while onboarding more handloom weavers from the clusters already covered. “This is helping us expand the variety and diversity of our product categories. We also aim to expand to other product categories such as stoles, scarves, home décor, and utility gifts in the coming years,” finishes Oberoi.

Brownie Points

  • For Sarees has built a network of 500 weaver families across the country.
  • During the Covid-19 lockdown, the brand clocked over 100 orders for its Ekla Cholo sarees. They were all pre-orders where customers were ready to wait for two months to get their saree.
  • Order fulfilment has been both a challenge and a need of the hour for a brand like For Sarees which has its own digital platform. The brand optimised its order fulfilment process by partneringwith Shiprocket, which helps it reach customers globally. Shiprocket also provides various logistics partners internally as per For Sarees’ needs.
  • The brand has recently launched a premium collection of delicately handcrafted sarees from Kashmir.
  • For Sarees leverages celebrity and influencer marketing to showcase its products via social media campaigns. For instance, it had Bollywood actress Vidya Balan wear one of its handcrafted sarees.

First appeared in The India D2C Yearbook 2022

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