Ep 11: Taniya on Slaying Ethnic Wear with Style

Unless we’re willing to have the humility to accept that we don’t know, we close ourselves to the beauty and wonder of discovery. We shut ourselves to the numerous lessons life teaches us every day, if only we’re willing to listen.

- Taniya Biswas, Co-Founder at Suta

Key Takeaways

  • Storytelling is important for any brand. When you know the product that you're buying a little bit more or who made it or you know there's some story behind the product that you're picking, you tend to love it more and you know the life time of the product increases because you take care of it better, you wear it more you know.
  • All entrepreneurs are really passionate to grow the brand and take them to different heights... The growth journey, of course, for every brand is different and also the goals are different. For example, there's a brand who wants to grow in a very slow pace but be more profitable and not look at the revenue. The brands who are just looking at growing the numbers revenue and thinning the margin is also okay for them. As a founder, setting your personal goals there becomes very important too.

Episode Transcript

kausambi (00:00.114)
Anir, super good to meet you because I, you know, before we start the whole thing, Shabang, I used to just be like, you know, on Instagram and during COVID and then suddenly, you know, you and your sister show up and then I was like, what's happening here? And my own sister, we are two sisters and she's, you know, been abroad for, I think, lived out for more than 20 years now. And I showed her, you know, Suta, Bombay and I remember her telling me,

My god, they make me want to wear sarees, which is a huge compliment because she's never been a saree girl.

Taniya Biswas (00:35.62)
Nice. Yeah, that's been our idea for starting Suta. That people should not think that sarees are cumbersome. It's just a regular way. Yeah, I'm happy you're two are sisters and you can understand what goes on in Suta also, quite a lot.

kausambi (00:40.728)

kausambi (00:44.442)
Yeah, absolutely. Any indefinite.

kausambi (00:52.07)
Ha ha.

dive into that a little bit. What I'll do now is I'll just do a quick intro and then we'll just start you know talking about how all this happened and your how is it to work with his sister I would love to know that I would love to work with my sister someday if we can so I think tips and tricks over there would be great and of course some of your consumer insights I think that's like super interesting we started shelf

Taniya Biswas (01:15.545)
I'm sorry.

kausambi (01:21.782)
about just a few months back actually last year and with the whole idea that we just wanna cover globally commerce everywhere. You have podcasts or content which is like very specific to geography. I have the good fortune of being in New York or in Toronto or in Bangalore, sort of shuttle between these three places. Right now I'm in Bangalore. And it's just like, you know, there's so many learnings you can sort of move across different regions. We all are.

doing interesting things, but the stories get lost. So the whole idea started was, can we have this like one hub where we just talk about all these different stories, founders and technologists who are just working in retail and are passionate about it. So that's how it started. So, super, super. So I'll do a quick intro and then we'll dive in. Hi everybody. So welcome to today's episode of.

Taniya Biswas (02:07.738)
Okay, great.

kausambi (02:18.498)
shelf. Now before we dive in with our guest today, let's start with a small story. So the first time you know I came across this thing called Suta. I was doom scrolling on Instagram and suddenly I come across these two very strong and sexy Indian women. Now they can fit in anywhere in the world right? Like you go to Paris, Sydney, I don't know New York and you can see them as part

Here they are on Instagram and wearing sarees with so much panache. This dichotomy is what grabbed my attention and made me sit up and take notice. And these two beautiful women are no other than the sister duo and now co-founders Tanya and Sujata. Their vibrant and really sleek modern brand Suta is actually derived from Sujata, Su and Tanya-ta. And it started out as a living room project.

but now it's a happy, great place for more than 150 folks who all of them are really passionate about modernizing sarees through contemporary stories. And I think several, at least a couple million followers on Instagram, I'm being one of them. So today I'm speaking to Tanya, one half of Suta on Shelf Season Two's finale. We saved the best for the last. So Tanya, hey, and a warm welcome to my little shelf.

Taniya Biswas (03:44.962)
Thank you. Thank you so much. And I'm so happy that I'm part of this shelf and yeah, looking forward to this conversation.

kausambi (03:53.735)
So we'll just dive right in, I think, one, like two words that keep coming to my mind. Howsarees!

Taniya Biswas (04:01.942)
Why saree? Because me and Sajata have grown up seeing, you know, I think a lot of us who have grown up in India have seen our parents, aunts and relatives, people around us wearing sarees throughout the day so seamlessly and looking so elegant. And I think, you know, I would not want them to wear anything else. If I've seen them so elegant in a saree, they

kausambi (04:09.596)

kausambi (04:20.123)

Taniya Biswas (04:27.378)
And the small nuances of sleeping in a sari, waking up in a sari, it just is so beautiful to look at. And we used to do that, borrow mom's sari and try it out. When we grew up, we have studied engineering MBA, then we went to the corporate world. Fashion as a subject didn't interest us too much because we just wore whatever mom used to give us. But when we start...

joined the corporate world and started earning. We wanted to wear sarees a lot more in the corporate world. And there, people didn't wear much. And people in regular life also didn't wear much of our age. And he used to get asked that, oh, is this a special day today? Oh, you're taking up a saree. Are you going to the temple? Are you meeting someone special? So, you know, I said, let's, you know, just it's a saree, just like how you're wearing a suit.

kausambi (05:05.647)

kausambi (05:14.066)

Taniya Biswas (05:20.67)
I'm wearing a saree and it's a normal wear and we normalised it where we went. But when we started to think that, oh, I want to wear the saree, which mom used to wear too many times and it was like very soft and not the crystal iron one. So that I didn't find in shops also. So I used to always borrow the used ones from her. And hence I just thought that, you know, why not make them and make them accessible and make the soft ones, which feels like

kausambi (05:39.3)

Taniya Biswas (05:49.93)
your own skin. And yeah, I thought it'll be a small brand because you know, sarees, you never know like how successful will we be in this. But yeah, I thought there'll be like-minded people, some people who would want to wear these kind of sarees. So yeah.

kausambi (06:08.886)
And you grew this, I would say, living room brand, as I read somewhere, into something. You have offline stores now, right? And you are even featured by Shopify as one of the upcoming breakthrough brands and all of that. How is it starting and growing a brand with your own sister? I have a sister, so I think that's like topmost. That's the number one question in my mind. How is it working with...

Taniya Biswas (06:31.81)
Thank you.

Taniya Biswas (06:36.954)
I wouldn't imagine, I can't imagine it any other way. I can't imagine anyone else in her place because the best thing is that we know each other really well from the personal and the professional angle. We know each other. So we know that when she needs me more or she needs me to fill in. So it's very unsaid, we don't have to say it. So that bond is there. And the other thing is that we have...

Our father was in a transferable job. So we lived in a lot of places, in different places, and we changed schools many times. And hence we became each other's constant. I think then our bond grew stronger because everything else changed and this stayed constant. So I think this is a special case in our relationship that we bonded so well.

But you know, I think fights are very normal. You can't stay away from fights. Siblings are meant for that. You fight and you know, love each other equally. So then what happens, what we do is communication helps. And our mother always told us, don't take any fight to the bed. You have to sort it no matter what. So we say that, oh, I felt bad when you did this. Or you said like, you spoke like that. So when we clear the communication, then it just is sorted and then we move ahead with it.

So I think it's no talking fun that doesn't help that, oh, I'll keep it in my heart, I'll not tell, and one day burst it out. So I think we follow that rule very strictly, it works.

kausambi (08:10.658)
And do you also have like a clear demarcation of now that the team's grown to 150 plus members and you know it's become a professional brand it's not just something you started in your garage anymore are you also starting to see like you know your demarcation of what you own what she owns all of that you know hazy stuff

Taniya Biswas (08:31.978)
It's very hazy still. I think from outside, it looks like it's very clear. Though the company has very clear demarcations of every department and everything is sorted. But in our role, we look at everything together. But though there's a bent in special areas that I'm more bent towards one thing, she's more bent towards another. But we look at everything till now. But I think it's high time that we stop that.

kausambi (09:00.766)
That'll be interesting. I think on some other episode and some other season, we'll definitely want to talk about that. We'll do that. Till then, hopefully. Or even not. It doesn't matter. Whatever works for the company. Before we move on to marketing and the consumer side and all of that, it's interesting for me that you've worked with weavers and artisans.

Taniya Biswas (09:06.218)
We'll be figure that out till then.

Taniya Biswas (09:13.068)

Taniya Biswas (09:16.823)

kausambi (09:28.038)
over 16,000 if I'm not wrong. And it must be very heartwarming, but a challenging experience for sure. Tell me a bit about these people, the people who are behind the brand, behind the sarees, and some stories, some stories that our audience would love to hear about.

Taniya Biswas (09:48.482)
So, you know, we were working directly with them was, is the vision with which we started. It's not that we wanted to get back sarees. That's the second vision. But the first was that we didn't see any impact of our work in people's lives from our work. So when I was in IBM doing strategy consulting, I didn't know where my work is going and adding value.

kausambi (10:01.478)

Taniya Biswas (10:16.342)
So it would be a tiny piece of something very big, but that feeling was missing. And hence we quit and we started Truta. When we started working with two weavers back then, that meant so much to us that, oh, these people are now dependent on what I am going to do. That was big. And we wanted to grow that slowly. And today it has become 16,000. That's the biggest achievement for us. And...

giving them 365 days of work is the goal. That I'm not gonna say that, oh, it's not selling well, so I'll stop. So even the collections that we launch revolve around which cluster is free now or which people are free now or the loops are not running because one of the launches is a flop. So the next launch will become, you know, so that they get work. So it's not driven by what will sell or what's there in demand.

kausambi (10:47.898)

Taniya Biswas (11:12.094)
But again, I have to think that, okay, the looms have to constantly run. So yeah, so 16,000 has been the number now. And it's been a beautiful journey because every day when I wake up, the motivation is that, okay, I have to do amazing because so many lives, you know, so many people are dependent on what, what we are doing every day. So it's, it's beautiful.

And when we started working with 2weverse, we thought that, oh, it's the biggest achievement because it was very difficult to convince that, okay, I want to make a mulmul saree without starch. They didn't believe that this product will sell. They said, oh, you're going to do embroidery, you're going to do something on it. We said, no, I'm going to just sell it like that. So it was difficult to convince and to make them understand what I want from them because it's very new and we were not known at all. So, but.

When other people started joining us because of word of mouth, that our pay policy is good, the work culture is good, the way we communicate is nice because when they give their inputs in a design, we change that. It's a two-way communication. So when people started joining and it started becoming big because of word of mouth, that's the biggest tick that you have done it, you're doing it fine and the vision we wanted is achieved.

And then the thousands of stories, you know, like every time we go there, it's just heartwarming to see the entire place changing. So, you know, we get goosebumps even now I'm talking about it. I'm getting goosebumps because, you know, the other day we went, I think two, three months back, there was this very old lady sitting at the Angad. She's sitting there. We are roaming around from this house to that house, to that room. We are just walking. And then she said, come, come here, sit with me. And we went by and we sat with her.

She said, just look around you. I just look around, she said, I sit here, I'm sitting here since like, every evening, I'm sitting here since 10, 15 years maybe. And just look how the village has drastically changed. And it has only happened from 2016. And that just made my day. So along with the family is the entire village uplift. So yeah.

kausambi (13:23.813)
Yeah, that's a...

kausambi (13:29.682)
Yeah, yeah. And when the women sort of uplift, they didn't just do it for themselves. I think that's the beauty about uplifting, you know, the other half of society is that it actually impacts families, it impacts children, how they grow up, it impacts a family, it impacts the community and your neighborhood, right? So it's very grassroots to, it's a very, very lovely, lovely story. Love that. So

Taniya Biswas (13:52.897)

kausambi (13:58.038)
Now let's talk about your marketing because I love the fact that you and Sujata model for your own sarees quite a bit and it looks like very well traveled real women you know who I could be friends with are wearing you know sarees right and so why not me? So how did that happen when was it a conscious choice or it was just like hey we want to sell sarees and you know we don't want to pay anybody so let's get started on it. How did all that happen?

Taniya Biswas (14:03.266)

Taniya Biswas (14:28.17)
it was kinda like that. But honestly, I'll tell you what happened. So I was interested in photography. I learned it in my B school. There was this club which I joined and I learned from there, from my peers. When I came to Bombay, I used to take up part-time projects of doing pre-wedding shoots and wedding shoots, etc. It was tough, but yeah, I did that. Then when we started Suta, we thought

kausambi (14:29.678)

kausambi (14:39.67)

Taniya Biswas (14:57.446)
lifestyle background and it should look relatable and not very pinned up saree because that's what we wanted to avoid that okay saree is a regular wear you don't have to break your head and how to wear it just drapes normally and for that we wanted a very regular background like a road or a living room setup and those shoes when we reached out to people it costed us more and yeah and

Taniya Biswas (15:27.142)
Probably because of the agencies or people have reached out to was wrong or I don't I don't know. So it was very expensive and then since the depth of the product was so less, so maybe I'm making two a design or five a design maybe in the initial days. If I add that cost onto those numbers, then it became the price shot up so much more and then you know, I had lesser buffer lesser buffer to even invest in my supply chain and everything else that I want to do.

So that made sense that oh I said Sujata let's why don't you wear them I'll take a picture and she was just standing like that okay Her face is all groggy and she's standing and she loves wearing a saree and we never showed her face And one day I was editing the pictures and we did it all just the two of us in the initial days And we were just editing and I said Sujata you're looking so good just look with your head inside the picture you know I'm not copying you today She's like do whatever you feel like and she went away she didn't listen to me

I started putting up pictures with her head and we started receiving amazing compliments and people loving it. And it was more relatable definitely. And yeah, so it just started like that and we decided, we realized that Sujata loves wearing the sarees and she does it in like 30 seconds, one minute hardly. And even the shoot happens in two minutes. So it was very fast. Our coordination was so good. And later in between when we had the money at the budget too, we tried changing the model because we wanted to focus on things and in the business.

We got a lot of feedback that people didn't like it and it stayed. And later when we had a team who did the photoshoot, they pushed me in front of the camera. So, you see me.

kausambi (17:05.006)
Yeah, now that you say yes, you're right. I think some of the early pictures are more, if you're scrolling down at least the Instagram feed, some of the early pictures were more around Sujata, but now there's a mix of both. So that's how that happened. I'm sure you got great feedback because I think, as I was saying, that was one of the differentiations, right?

Taniya Biswas (17:17.54)


kausambi (17:32.79)
market in India, at least when I was in Mindra, that is how we used to term it, Indian ethnic men, women. Okay, very, very fragmented, right? But this sort of like a very relatable, you're not like really dressed up as you are at least saying in a wedding or an event or something of that sort. It's just everyday modern things like you are like, you know, not in a specific festival or ethnic setting. You don't have to change. Yeah.

Taniya Biswas (17:37.416)

Taniya Biswas (17:57.478)
We go to restaurants and theatres and pubs. Pubs is the best place to go in Asari, trust me. Try it out. We always get a table. We never stood on a queue. There's a huge queue in Bangalore. And we're standing there. We came from an event and from the store. And we're standing in a queue and the people are like, will you come in, come in, come in, please come in. We have a table for you. And we just break the queue and we go in because we were called inside. I said, fine, that's how it works. And it has worked.

kausambi (18:03.699)
Yeah? Tell me why.

Taniya Biswas (18:27.248)
free time.

kausambi (18:30.009)
Oh my god, you've given me a tip!

Taniya Biswas (18:32.529)
I like their duck looks.

kausambi (18:35.65)
I'm definitely gonna take you up on that and I'll keep you posted. So what were some of the things that didn't work though? Like anything that you tried out and you thought, yeah, it's a big bet and it just probably didn't work.

Taniya Biswas (18:49.922)
Honestly, we have always gone, we are big risk takers, you know, we have gone by our gut feel and just done it. What didn't work is, I don't know, I think we just move on really fast, we don't store it in our hearts. If it didn't work, we just, ah, it's okay, we'll figure out. There are a lot of things that didn't work out, honestly. I can't put a finger at one thing right now.

kausambi (18:53.705)

kausambi (19:02.51)
Yeah, love that.

kausambi (19:08.859)

kausambi (19:20.629)
Cool. So, Sudha has always been a very story-driven brand, right? And what, like a half a million followers on social media. What kind of, did you ever think about, or did you do a bunch of this creator user-led campaigns apart from, you know, you and your sister being, you know, front and center around the content?

any experiments over there or any campaigns over there that comes to mind at work.

Taniya Biswas (19:49.866)
When it comes to stories and campaigns, we always loved telling stories and listening to stories always. And we felt that when you know the product that you're buying a little bit more or who made it or you know there's some story behind the product that you're picking, you tend to love it more and you know the life time of the product increases because you take care of it better, you wear it more you know. So that's what...

kausambi (19:55.13)

Taniya Biswas (20:16.494)
the idea of writing stories behind every product came from. And initially me and Sujata used to write it ourselves. But yeah, I think it just it worked because people spent a lot of time on the website. Even now the stickiness is really high and people just like to just scroll through. You know, we have people telling us that we just, you know, in the morning we look at your website, not even Instagram page, you know, it's a website.

Before sleeping also, we just scroll through. You know, it's just a place for us to go to because if there's stories, you know, the products and we like to read, so that worked for us really well. But again, the disadvantages is that SEO didn't work well. Because if our product is named, say, Manjari, it is not written that it's a white with red border and gold border saree. So it's difficult to remember since there's so many designs now. When we were small, it was okay.

kausambi (20:47.778)
Huh, interesting.

kausambi (20:54.306)

kausambi (21:00.474)

Taniya Biswas (21:13.942)
But I think those nomenclatures need to be there and we are working on those things. It can't be just fancy in our heads. It doesn't work. So yeah, we're working on those things. Um, campaigns, I think, um, one of my favorites is that, uh, girls from the autism spectrum, she, uh, her mother reached out to us saying that, oh, she loves your page. Uh, she goes through it and, uh, she picks, she usually clicks any life.

generally pictures on the road and she paints that. But on Instagram, she likes our page a lot and hence she picks any of the random photos and she sketches those in her idea. It's very unique. And when she reached out and said, can you guys work with her in any way because she loves watching you. And we just picked it up because it's not a campaign or anything marketing related because it comes from a lot from our heart.

It's a gut feeling that, oh, let's do it. We have to do it. We picked her art forms. She painted some of beautiful art forms and then we picked it and got it hand painted in our villages on the sarees. It was a beautiful project. It was received amazingly well. I think we don't always think from the consumer side because I don't think people really know what they want that they'll tell us always. We do all of that also.

kausambi (22:19.142)

Taniya Biswas (22:38.538)
But I think something like that, if you know this project that is given to the customers, they absolutely loved it. Some people just bought it because of the story, some people bought it for the cause. So yeah, I think it just works when you do things from your heart.

kausambi (22:53.602)
Yeah, yeah. And what I'm hearing is essentially exactly that, right? Like you being the consumer of your own product in a way, right? You are talking about things that matter to you and it's resonating with a niche audience, I guess. Right. So there's a learning.

kausambi (23:12.502)
So now about, you know, ethnic wear in general, very fragmented as we were talking about it and names like usually like when you see globally also Nully or Manevar and but not many niche brands till some time back, right? Traditionally it's not been, it's been more, you know, big brand houses. So is it changing now? Do you see it that changing and how do you see that changing?

Taniya Biswas (23:40.01)
I love that this is changing in terms of this. The people have started shopping mindfully is what I feel. Most of them, because they want to know what the brand does. They want to buy from small brands and you know, there's so many brands who are in the saree segment right now. They may not be big names or they may not have physical stores right now, but they have a good customer base.

And I feel that that's going to be the future, of course, because people are exploring a lot more because they're consuming so much on social media. So yeah, that's, this is just going to change definitely. And for us, the most beautiful part is this ecosystem is growing together, you know, and it's, and the customer base is so big that I want more and more sari brands to come and grow along with us. So it's.

So everyone has a share. So yeah, I think I would want that more and more people should start wearing saris that same.

kausambi (24:44.034)
Which leads me to a thought, right? Like, of course it's great, it's definitely important. You can't be a niche category and then, you know, be the only player in the category. But if there is a lot more, then it also means that there's a lot more.

Taniya Biswas (24:57.326)

kausambi (24:58.798)
It's good because it means you're growing too, gonna grow as a part of that. But how do you, like how you even thinking about it today is like, are you thinking about it? Which is how do I stay ahead of brands in the same space? Because if we, of course, if I see, if I follow Suta now, there seems to be a few others who are coming up, you know, as suggestions now from the algorithm, right? So how are you thinking about staying ahead of brands, trends in this space?

Taniya Biswas (25:26.734)
So we have always ideated in terms of what would people want and what will make saree wearing more easy and more fun. And ours is more fun, you know. So Navya, Saat and Eera, they also have opened after us. So they have big stores. But still the things that we do and the light, fun sarees that we make, I think there are very few players still in the market.

kausambi (25:34.886)

Taniya Biswas (25:54.33)
How do we move ahead is that, for example, now we have come up with all sarees have foraging done. So it was a very big dilemma that we, you know, because people think that things that have already foraging done, it's an old saree. So even in marketplaces, they don't still, they still haven't accepted that we will put foraging and ship. So in marketplace, products are not fully done, but on the website it is done.

kausambi (26:10.234)

Taniya Biswas (26:23.626)
a lot of love because of that idea that it's already done, you can buy it now, you can wear it today evening. So that is something and I also feel that this really, I can't get a name in my head for blouses. So I think that space also we have cracked and it was only, we only did it because we wanted to make it easy.

kausambi (26:40.57)

Taniya Biswas (26:51.99)
blouses plays such an important role. And initially people also said that, Oh, why are your blouses so much more expensive? Saree is the main product. It's like, you know, just an addition, right? But the blouse can be the main attire also. And the sarees can be secondary because blouses can change your look completely. So that way, you know, we keep thinking in that direction that, you know, how can we make it more fun and people should aspire to wear more and more sarees. And that's, that's how we ideate. We don't think that.

what's happening in the market. Let's do what people are doing, what other brands are doing. Though we appreciate, we follow trends, of course, you know, those re-use and everything, we do those things. But from product perspective, from ideating perspective, we do, we do not follow any brand or any trend. We just do what we feel that, oh, this should be done, you know, and there's the ideas bubbling in the team. It's a average age is 26 in the team of 200 people. So you can understand the energy that's there.

kausambi (27:27.899)

Taniya Biswas (27:51.16)

kausambi (27:52.002)
And also I love the, I love what you are sort of alluding to in a way is that, you know what, you know, you can't disrupt the category by thinking like the category. So you're thinking capsule wardrobes, you're thinking, you know, a mix and match and all of that. Like how do I probably use the same basic navy blue sari, but make it go from day to night party to wedding, whatever, like with just a changing of the blouse, right? So it's, you're bringing in like how, you know, usually Western wear or everything else,

Taniya Biswas (28:12.984)

kausambi (28:19.75)
thinking about day and night, evening party, same black dress, LPD over multiple occasions, right? So you're bringing that construct to ethnic wear, which is not there.

Taniya Biswas (28:24.674)

Taniya Biswas (28:29.386)
And also we have done one thing recently that you know the we have gotten the pre-drip feature for Any sorry that you ordering you can add that feature and you can get it pre-drip because we have for this We're very stubborn saying that oh, it's so easy. You know you can wear it You don't have to pin it you can just wear it but later after so many years you realize that you know, I feel that way but

Many women out there don't feel it. You know, they're struggling. They think that, oh, I step over my sari to open up in public and all of that. I know, you know, the fear will go away, but how do they start? So, so I think a pre-drape was the need of the hour. Many people had requested it since a, since yours, but we didn't do it. But now we have added that as a feature that you, you say you want it to be just two measurements, waist and height, and we'll do it for you.

Wear sarees the way you want to. It's alright, I'm not gonna preach that. It's easy, you wear it.

kausambi (29:24.922)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you don't have to change your behavior, sort of the saree morphs to your, you know, yeah. Yeah, yeah, love that. Love that actually. And that brings me to like, what do customers keep coming back for? I guess it's not just sarees. As you said, it's a little bit of the stories, almost like a view into an episode, what made that saree happen, right?

Taniya Biswas (29:31.367)

kausambi (29:54.023)
Or maybe it's the blouses, etc. Like how do you think about this category expansion in a way? How do you keep returning customers coming back? And is there some learnings over there that would be interesting for our audience?

Taniya Biswas (30:08.858)
So I know that the customer who, you know, they say that, oh, I have 50 or 60 of your sarees, but I know that, you know, it may get saturated, you know, how many more can you pick? So I think real life there really helps that, you know, you can resell your sarees, they have a resale value. So a lot of our customers are selling sarees there and 80% of the product get picked right away on that the same day. So there's a customer base who wants to try out and not shell out a lot of money and you

kausambi (30:14.202)

Taniya Biswas (30:37.598)
secondhand ones. So that has worked really well and then people who have too many of them and have worn it too many times, they can sell it and you know make space in the wardrobe, buy new ones. So that has worked but otherwise we're also looking at expanding in different categories. We are looking at sub-brand, we are looking at stitch garments, we're looking at menswear because we have done capsule collections of those and they have done wonders, they have done really

kausambi (31:03.467)

Taniya Biswas (31:07.394)
Let's see where that takes us.

kausambi (31:10.026)
Interesting for me. I'll keep following and seeing if I can also get stuff of a partner now, not just browsing your sarees. That would be interesting. So when you started out, I think a lot of it was direct to your customer, I guess, in a way. But did you also go marketplace early? You mentioned how some of your pre-stitched and pre-ready sarees are not allowed.

in marketplaces at the moment, but tell me about the early days, like channels, how did you think about it?

Taniya Biswas (31:46.222)
Again, we were stubborn and foolish and thought that, oh, we are not maybe for marketplace. People there may not understand the product. And because of the price sensitivity, you know, playing a big role in marketplaces, right. But I think we started two years, one and a half, two years back being everywhere, because I know that there's a certain audience and the ease of exchange or return or, you know, the policy and even the trust factor.

kausambi (31:47.698)

kausambi (31:55.003)

Taniya Biswas (32:15.646)
If you don't know me at all, maybe you'll trust Mitra better or Nike better, because you have been shopping from then and they have covered all the policies really well. So, yeah, so I think visibility was something that is really good and necessary to be present everywhere and also just bombarding people from everywhere. For example, like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, you know, why not? These are places that you must be present in and marketplaces is one such place that.

people buy from and honestly we're doing very well there. We're happy that we took the decision and we are there and yeah I think they you know the way they think and they have grown their brand it's amazing the way they market, the way they pull audience, the sales period that they do, the push that they do works. There's a lot to learn.

kausambi (33:07.695)

kausambi (33:12.714)
Yeah, yeah, for sure. It has to shift. I think I read somewhere maybe in Shopify feature that like 80 odd percent was coming by D2C has started flipping because of this now.

Taniya Biswas (33:25.334)
I still, I think the majority of the sales, 70% is still the website. And so another 15% should be a marketplace. And then since stores have started just now, so another 5, 10% is 10% is coming from the stores.

kausambi (33:29.999)

kausambi (33:39.27)

kausambi (33:43.374)
That leads me to like what's the shift in your operating and mental model too, I guess, not just your operating model, but your mental model on how to make offline work. And the roles are very different though. What's changed in how you operate because of your new stores?

Taniya Biswas (33:56.75)
Thank you.

Taniya Biswas (34:01.598)
Oh my God, it's just a different learning altogether. We have no clue how retail works, but yeah, I think we did a lot of exhibitions, solo exhibitions last year in many cities and we have gotten amazing responses. We really enjoyed it also, interacting with people, people coming in, touching and feeling your product and buying even more because when you see, oh, the fit is so good, of the blouse, I'll pick five of these.

kausambi (34:08.402)

kausambi (34:31.558)

Taniya Biswas (34:31.661)
So online, it doesn't work like that. So that really was an eye-opener for us. And so yeah, I think also we thought that the CAC is online is of course gonna increase, it's becoming more cluttered. So physical offline space is another channel, we wanted to explore. We are going the franchisee route also. So yeah, I think three stores out of the five are franchisees and you know.

We're interacting with so many more people offline and it's just a fun space right now, but we would want to take it slow, though we wanted to open many more stores and things were lined up. We wanted to close it, but we said no, let's pause because we have to learn ways of retail because we have no idea. We have to have, you know, onboard some expert in the space and it's doing very well touch wood. So we are happy.

kausambi (35:27.458)
Yeah. Are you planning? I think you're in Pune. Like, where are you for listeners? Like, where are you in the offline world right now so that they can go and quickly catch you there?

Taniya Biswas (35:38.69)
So Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Thane.

kausambi (35:44.922)
There you go. Let's make note of that and link. Yeah, yeah. We'll try to put that entire list down on our show notes, for sure, for people. Ha ha ha.

Taniya Biswas (35:46.05)
These are the places they can google it, Shikosh. So...

Taniya Biswas (35:55.914)
Yes, please. Yes, that would really work. Come to the stores because the stores are very beautiful. We have put our heart in it and the store staff is very, very sweet. So yeah, they can help you shop. Though the planning, so I'll tell you the inventory planning has gone for a toss. This we have been breaking our heads in cracking it in terms of what to go, how many times to do replenish and you know, we're getting on an ERP system as we speak because it just won't work any longer.

kausambi (36:11.887)

kausambi (36:18.118)


kausambi (36:24.386)
Yeah? No.

Taniya Biswas (36:25.846)
But yeah, tech I think should be the key to sort everything.

kausambi (36:43.835)
I think.

Taniya Biswas (36:47.03)
Yes, I can.

Taniya Biswas (36:52.266)
No problem, that's alright.

kausambi (36:56.319)
Okay. Yeah. I think I got, I lost everybody for a minute, but the recording went through, right? Like.

Taniya Biswas (37:02.71)
Looks like.

kausambi (37:03.786)
Okay, cool. Yeah. That the good thing about, you know, Riverside is that you got recorded, Tanya. I don't have to worry about it. I can just continue. It loads everything in like, in a not non-combined file. So your file is different. My file is different. So really helps. Relief. You should. Yeah. I can hook you up on any learnings. Yeah. Any, any learnings, I can hook you up on that. Yeah, for sure.

Taniya Biswas (37:11.167)
I'm sorry.

Taniya Biswas (37:20.609)
Good input, I'll remember that.

Taniya Biswas (37:26.218)
Okay, we will also start using the website.

Taniya Biswas (37:31.106)

kausambi (37:33.729)

kausambi (37:39.505)
Oh wait, I think it's probably just because the network is switching. Let me try and connect to my Bluetooth and see you hold on and let me just try and join Bluetooth. Tell me if that's better.

Taniya Biswas (37:48.928)

kausambi (38:03.526)

Taniya Biswas (38:05.951)
Yes, we can see you and hear you as well.

kausambi (38:08.79)
Done. Okay. So we will continue in this for now. Yeah. Awesome. I don't have a follow up question because I didn't hear it, but we'll see. I'll just move on to the next one in my list. So Dhani, as a founder, I'm sure there's so much of your own personal shopping experiences, a bunch of the product lines that you were talking about and the campaigns you're talking about, even shoots, etc.

Taniya Biswas (38:17.365)

kausambi (38:35.238)
It's about how you think of sarees, how you think of incorporating sarees in your everyday and then making that experience hassle-free for your customers, right? We've heard a few examples, but if you could just round up some of them, because I think it's a lot of our audience is actually upcoming D2C and brand founders and they always ask us about, hey, we want to learn about that industry and that specific.

you know segment and how the founders used their own personal experiences and built the brand. So just a little bit you know diving into that how to utilize your own personal experiences and sort of throw that into your brand and you know make it so much better.

Taniya Biswas (39:20.251)
I think all entrepreneurs are really passionate to grow the brand and take them where they have... The growth journey is of course like for every brand is different and also the goals are different. For example, there's a brand who wants to grow in a very slow pace but be more profitable and not look at the revenue. The brands who are just looking at growing the numbers revenue and thinning the margin is also okay for them.

kausambi (39:40.046)

Taniya Biswas (39:48.022)
So I think you must set your personal goal and not look at this running because everybody else is running. So that's really, really important. Even as a human, even professionally, even if you're not an entrepreneur, that's really important. And first from personal goals, you should think that what you wanna do really and then.

kausambi (40:03.277)

Taniya Biswas (40:14.31)
It's very important to give away the parts that you think that others can do better and That's a big learning that has you know come to us that The people who know much more than you and they might be much better in that area probably marketing something, you know, someone else is better and you know more knowledgeable you can give it away Also, I think taking risks is very important and

kausambi (40:19.174)

Taniya Biswas (40:43.178)
You can't be thinking that, oh, I'm not sure about this idea and let me see what others think. But people may not know because they also haven't tried it out. So try things out. We have, because I think if it's not a big monetary loss, then might as well just try it out in a small scale, maybe if it involves a lot of money.

We have done that and we have seen good results every time because a lot of your instinct will work because you have grown your brand and you know your brand the best. So yeah, I think don't always go for validations all the time. And I think a lot of times we thought that it's difficult to go out and ask questions and understand. But

Honestly, it's the easiest thing to do and everyone is so open these days. We have struggled doing a lot of things and we were trying to build things from scratch and again failed, but you know, the people out there have done the same thing, so probably asking 10 people out there about, you know, any technical qualities or things that they have, it may have worked, I think that has really, really helped in, for me, especially that.

I'm a big introvert and I've done an extrovert right now. And that helped me a lot. I think it's the brand. A lot of times you don't have to be how the brand is, but eventually it becomes that because you are driving it. And if you don't honestly feel something in your heart as a value, that may not be visible in the brand also. So I think go by what really you.

kausambi (42:16.316)

Taniya Biswas (42:31.65)
feel is right and not what the world is doing.

kausambi (42:37.848)
I love that. I think that's also great advice for people who are, even young girls and women entrepreneurs in specific. What's the future? When Tanya looks ahead and thinks about the future at Suta and ethnical in general, what do you see?

Taniya Biswas (43:03.199)
So, in future I think, see when we started Suta, we wanted...

kausambi (43:06.818)
Actually, I'll change my question. We don't care about ethnic wear. You are not necessarily an ethnic wear company. You're about a brand that's about bringing saree to everybody. So I'll change the question. What are you going when Tanya is looking deep into the future? What's happening at Suda? And what's your ideal state, actually?

Taniya Biswas (43:27.956)

Taniya Biswas (43:31.542)
I believe that Suta can have many more weavers on board it and we can constantly work with them throughout the year. Though a lot of people don't want, a couple of them say that these are the farming months we will farm. I want to learn a lot from them also and inculcate that in my life because it's so easy for them to just give up something and do something else and then get back to that thing. So yeah, I think.

kausambi (43:47.386)

Taniya Biswas (44:00.186)
My personal steady state is that, you know, achieving what they have achieved in life. They have a very slow pace of life and they're very happy with it. But for Suta, we are looking at many more stores. Would love to see, you know, on different high streets Suta being present in all like different two-tier, three-tier cities. That's the aim. And want to really explore the other verticals that we are looking at.

stitch garments, but again, in a suta way, not just saying that, oh, I'm going to make kurta, I'm going to make dresses, but having a signature suta. So how suta when you see in movies and places and OTT, you people recognize, oh, it's a suta that has to be a suta, even if the tag is not visible. And 99% of the time it's true.

kausambi (44:48.026)

Taniya Biswas (44:51.146)
It's very easy to understand what the Suta product is like, what the Suta saree and blouse is like. So, I want to replicate that in stitch garments and menswear also, you know, having a signature there. Yeah, I think these are the couple of things and having many more people on board it, making this space the happiest place to work in. That's the aim.

kausambi (45:01.402)

kausambi (45:13.442)
Awesome, awesome and before we wrap for the day, a very quick set of, you know, kind of like rapid fire or whatever we want to call it, but quick questions just for everybody to know a little bit more about Tanya. So you ready? Just four questions.

Taniya Biswas (45:35.967)
Yeah, rapid is no more rapid.

kausambi (45:38.699)
Oh, it's not rapid at all. Hahaha. Slow fire.

kausambi (45:46.742)
Okay, okay, I'll continue. I'll just continue. Yeah. All right, I'll go directly go in with the questions. Beach or hills?

Taniya Biswas (45:53.418)
Yes, yes. Beach.

kausambi (45:58.075)
travel essentials.

Taniya Biswas (45:59.97)
I didn't hear you, fine, sorry.

kausambi (46:02.391)
Five or three, let's call it three travel essentials.

Taniya Biswas (46:06.39)
Oh, three travel essentials. Oops, only three, my God. Sunscreen, must, can't live without it. Oh yeah. My notebook and pen, that I'm clubbing it together. And the third, I know for a fact that I can't live without my phone these days, have to know what's happening if I'm traveling. So yeah, a phone.

kausambi (46:12.922)

kausambi (46:20.834)
Yes, it's mine.

kausambi (46:33.454)
Your go to airport look.

Taniya Biswas (46:37.122)
Sorry, any day, any day. The most comfortable.

kausambi (46:41.261)
Anything from your collection, anything that you've been crazy about and you're burning a lot.

Taniya Biswas (46:46.598)
I love a mulmul saree, anything from the mulmul section because it's so comfortable and soft on your skin. I make a lot of friends at the airport wearing a saree. I get extra smiles from women and men. People stop by to also say that, oh, you're looking so beautiful in a saree. You know it's a conversation starter because if I'm wearing anything else, nobody talks to me, nobody smiles.

kausambi (46:59.856)

kausambi (47:15.91)
I remember that.

Taniya Biswas (47:18.12)
I'm sorry.

kausambi (47:19.49)
on my next flight to Toronto.

Taniya Biswas (47:21.858)
Yes, please try that out and tell me how it is.

kausambi (47:26.087)
For sure. Okay, final question. Talk to media, shows or books on your phone or tablet right now.

Taniya Biswas (47:32.062)
Oh, I didn't get the first question clearly.

kausambi (47:34.926)
Yeah, top two media shows or books that's like, you know, on your phone or your tablet right now on your Netflix or whatever.

Taniya Biswas (47:43.278)
shows the books. Books, I'm a book person even if I have the Kindle I don't really use it. I'm again going back to buying books. OTT, what am I watching? Oh my god. I have not been watching anything. My god save me.

kausambi (47:50.402)

kausambi (47:56.519)
Ha ha!

kausambi (48:05.26)
We'll forgive you for that, but books, you gotta say. Like, what are you reading right now? Yeah.

Taniya Biswas (48:08.335)
Oh, I'll tell you, so Kabir's nanny changed. So I have to put him to sleep and that one nanny is to get to watch things is gone. My god.

Taniya Biswas (48:24.173)

kausambi (48:24.401)
So it must be a lot of nursery rhymes and baby books right now.

Taniya Biswas (48:29.119)
I tell him stories from my head, I make things up. But yes, the book I'm reading right now is Start with a Why.

kausambi (48:37.002)
Awesome. Thank you so much. This was so much fun and we'd love to have you back. But we'll let you go. We've already kept you over a while but we had a great time. We learned tons of things and honestly speaking, I'm definitely going to take you up on wearing a saree on my long hauls one of these months and I'll keep you posted for sure.

Taniya Biswas (48:38.111)

Taniya Biswas (48:59.878)
Yes, it was amazing talking to you. It just felt like we're sitting in a cafe and chit chatting the way we spoke. So yeah, it's been really, really nice one hour. Thank you.

kausambi (49:04.112)

kausambi (49:08.894)
Super, super happy to hear that and thank you everybody. So that's a wrap for this season but we'll be back soon with a little bit of a twist and a little interesting different perspective into the world of commerce. Thank you everybody and adios.

kausambi (49:28.57)
I'll just pause recording. Yeah.

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