The idea to birth Fashinza was conceived by co-founders Pawan Gupta and Abhishek Sharma during their trip to Jaipur in 2019. One of the factors that fascinated them in their encounter with Jaipur’s apparel manufacturing industry was the predominance and contributions made by the women of the country towards this age-old industry. While women artisans have always played a central role in the apparel manufacturing industry, today women are also leading the industry as entrepreneurs. We talked to one of our suppliers from Jaipur, Richa Khandelwal, to learn about her experiences in the world of manufacturing.
Richa is the owner of Girdhar Lifestyles, one of the leading manufacturing companies in Jaipur. With an MBA degree under her wings, she got into the manufacturing business about 6 years ago. Before starting her own business, Richa was employed with Limeroad as a BDM for three years. This young entrepreneur is only 32 years old and in divulging her story to us, she mentioned that the early years of her 20s were invested in building her family and she decided to step into a businesswoman’s shoes after she became a mom. Following her days at Limeroad, she started her own e-commerce business, which eventually led her to launch the manufacturing business she now owns.
Experiences and Contributions as an Entrepreneur
According to Richa, her journey has been a rollercoaster ride and every day tends to be different. When she initially started off, there was lack of sufficient work, funds, and labor. She has embarked with 10-15 machines but her business has grown since then and now she experiences a regular flow of work, provides employment to a lot of people, and her factory houses around 60 machines. When we asked her if it has been difficult to compete in an industry dominated by men manufacturers, she said:
“Not really. The industry has stopped catering to stereotypes. If you are confident and if you have work, people give you the respect and space. I have never particularly had to struggle to create a space for myself because I am a woman.”
Notably, Richa has been generating employment opportunities for other women in the industry. She employs more than 40 women workers, with 70% of her workforce being made up of women. She makes a conscious effort to ensure that she creates job opportunities for more women artisans.
“There is a huge demand for women workers in the industry because the finishing works require finesse that the women artisans have experience in and are especially good at.” says Richa.
Partnership with Fashinza
Richa was approached by Fashinza during the lockdown days. Fashinza gave her orders for urgently required PPE kits and she helped Fashinza to source the same. The partnership has grown and blossomed since then. When we enquired if her partnership with Fashinza has helped her in any way or made her journey easier, she said:
Richa has designated team leaders to monitor different departments like production, merchandising, and so on. They have daily morning meetings to share updates about the present status and all issues are noted and resolved on a daily basis. They use Fashinza’s platform among other things for organizing and managing their work, and according to her, the platform has been of great help for maintaining day-to-day updates.
Impact of COVID-19 on the apparel industry
Richa has had a rather interesting experience during the period of lockdown: “The lockdown has changed my life,” she says. Before the lockdown, the orders were inconsistent, every now and then the orders would be returned, but now she has a constant flow of work. Richa seems to believe that a positive thing that happened to her business during the pandemic was her alliance with Fashinza. However, she did have to face and overcome certain challenges during the Covid period, especially with respect to the availability of labors. The industry as a whole suffered from a shortage of labors during the peak Covid months as a consequence of the migrations.
In Richa’s opinion, the industry is getting back to its normal state, there is once again an influx of orders and people are back at work. Things have started picking up pace in the industry and Richa seems convinced that the market conditions look good - the embroiderers, printers, and all other artisans are preoccupied with work.
However, she has observed that people are starting to become more economical in the post-Covid period. They want better value for their money, and want to make calculated expenses. Also, in general she notes that the manufacturing industry in Jaipur is growing, demands have increased, 10 years back business was more export-oriented, now there is 10 to 20 times growth in domestic demands.
Challenges and Growth Plans
In Richa’s experience, securing a constant flow of orders remains one of the greatest challenges in the industry and she believes that this is a crucial pain point that Fashinza has taken care of. Now she can have orders brought up to her, to her own premises, and she can focus on production instead of having to worry about generating sufficient demands.
In the upcoming months, Richa intends to expand her production capacities. Presently she has a monthly turnover of 50 lakhs to 1 crore and her goal is to increase this 10 times. Richa is convinced that as Fashinza continues to grow, her business will grow along with it, and the partnership will be mutually beneficial.