Her name resonates the sound of respect and immense boldness, at the same time. She can…Read More →
It took me over a 100 attempts to get an investor for my start-up!
“What do you do when you drop coffee on your white shirt on the way to the airport? You try and pick up something from a nearby mall. I tried 3 shirts at such a store. Some were too short and finished at the stomach, some were very tight on the bust and some were really loose on the waist. I came out wondering if I was shaped like a freak or if there were other women who felt the same. Like a typical Strategy Consultant I ran a survey of 250 women and a whopping 80% identified with the same problem!” says the founder Nidhi Agarwal.
KAARYAH is a brand of western and non-casual wear for Indian women focused on providing the best possible fit with its 18 sizes. It was conceptualized after a very large unmet need of well fit western formal wear for the Indian silhouette became apparent. It is the only brand, globally, that offers western wear in so many sizes, compared to a global average of 12-13 sizes. The brand introduces 150 new designs every month; its catalogue of shirts, trousers and skirts for women is larger than any Indian or International brand’s offering. Kaaryah already has a presence across leading online marketplaces and also services through Kaaryah.com.
“I was told that Entrepreneurship is very hard work and a road less travelled by women specifically because they are expected to manage home & work. But that has never held me back,” says the founder. Prior to KAARYAH, Nidhi was the the Director, Strategy at Honeywell India. With a lot of travelling and strict timelines, Nidhi was not new to working hard and learning new things. “Interestingly my parents & family have been hugely supportive and never made me feel like I was doing something tough and unusual. Instead they went out of their way to smoothen things out for me by making their time and expertise at work available when I couldn’t afford any,” she adds happily.
When Nidhi started to build KAARYAH with Garima Bhat, she knew there would be obstructions on the way. “A major challenge was ensuring that we were able to execute what we had conceptualised given that this is a legacy industry with its benefits & draw backs. Another barrier was building a team (including investors) that could help me execute this as envisioned,” she says. After more than 100 attempts, KAARYAH raised series A investment from Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group. KAARYAH also has partners (employees) who see what the founders are trying to achieve and then gun for the same goal relentlessly. This makes them a great team.
Time is precious and the only thing money cannot buy specially in a start-up. Nidhi makes sure that she discusses the work with her team such that she is leveraging their time in the best possible manner. “I make sure that I carve out time for what I need to deliver within the timelines committed,” she says. After a long day at work, she ends her day with home cook dinner and some family time. She mentions that her father is an extremely supportive person. “There is no way I would have even attempted this without the immeasurable support of my friends & family. My Father is the reason, I even attempted this. Ever since we were children the values of hard work, honesty & perseverance were drilled into us not by words but with the examples he was setting for us. My expectations from how a family can be supportive were set very high with the examples my Mother was setting while my Father worked relentlessly,” she says proudly.
Nidhi has not been raised in an environment that believes girls are different from boys. “The men in my family never learned to tell women how the World is a different place for them. I am allowed to go out at night, wear what I want to, and pursue opportunities I desire to. According to them it is their duty to support me by being there for me and ensuring I am safe just as it is mine to do similarly for them,” says Nidhi.
Nidhi has had her fair share of questions on being a woman founder running a start-up. Small things which are driven by the perception of men who have not seen women in charge come in the way of running a business, but those are only things that will evolve with time as more women become business managers. She has always been hard coded to gun for what she wants to achieve. This way, her trade-offs became easier and a matter of choice rather than sacrifice.
Being the CEO and founder of KAARYAH, Nidhi has to look at multiple aspects of running a business. “It has been nothing short of incredible. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to wait it out (patience) & never give up (perseverance) while pursuing your goal relentlessly,” she advises the future entrepreneurs. Perseverance is key and if you believe in a dream hard enough it does come true. Be focussed, be fearless and be limitless!