The Chef of the Weekend – Ruchi Verma
Fashion designer Ruchi Verma, 34, a graduate of NIFT Mumbai from the small town of Darbhanga in Bihar, has given wings to her lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur in 2020 after working at various fashion houses for about seven years.
Investing Rs 2.5 lakh of her personal savings and drawing on her experience as a designer for some of the biggest brands in the country and her innate creativity, she immersed herself in the project and created her own brand “Aaruvi Ruchi Verma” out of nothing.
|Ruchi Verma launched ‘Aaruvi Ruchi Verma’ in 2020 after working at various fashion houses for seven years with Rs 2.5 lakh (Pictures: Special Arrangement)|
The brand specializes in maternity dresses for women, although it has also recently launched casual wear. Its products are available on major e-commerce portals such as Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio, Nykaa and Firstcry.
The brand achieved revenue of Rs 1.8 crore in the 2021-22 financial year and is pegged at Rs 5 crore ARR this year.
Ruchi Verma shares her story, starting with the circumstances that made her take the leap into entrepreneurship, starting with the online research she did, the things she learned, and her model of company that can also inspire other budding young entrepreneurs.
“I studied design at NIFT Mumbai and soon started working in big companies with brands like Tata Westside and Spencer’s. Although it was exciting at first, after seven years I started to feel that something was missing.
Stability and income, supposed to be the hallmarks of a good job, began to bother me. It didn’t feel fulfilling at all and for most days I felt trapped.
The 9-5 routine, the stress of daily goals and weekend work left me no time to follow my passion for creativity.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a creative person, making dolls and doing my paintings – which I still do by the way. I have always loved sharing my work with the rest of the world. But the corporate culture created barriers and prevented me from experimenting in my workplace. I then started dreaming of creating my own brand.
|Ruchi watched YouTube videos to learn about starting a small business|
But it wasn’t easy. I had no business experience or knowledge. I was also from a small town called Darbhanga in Bihar. It just seemed like a distant dream, a dream I might never live.
It was during one of those lazy Sundays, while shopping online on my phone, that I started noticing how many new D2C brands were offering their beautiful collections at affordable prices.
I felt fascinated to see this and started doing more and more research online. Thanks to my educational background, I am good at evaluating design patterns and trends. However, the lack of business experience always made me feel unsuited to the task of starting something on my own.
Add to that that starting my own business meant quitting a well-paying, comfortable job. It also meant giving up comfort and consistency and treading unfamiliar territory that seemed so difficult.
However, I continued my research and started learning more about starting a small business on YouTube – including steps to register a business, tax tips, how to get your products online, and more.
It gave me confidence that it’s not as difficult as it looks on the outside and with the help of a little self-study, starting a business could indeed be possible.
As I pondered my big move and was hesitant to take the plunge, the breaking point for me was the expectation at my workplace to work overtime and late nights.
When this started happening continuously, I decided to stop. I did it in an instant because I thought if I kept thinking about it, I might never do it. My family and friends were shocked to learn of my decision.
They said venturing into the unknown was going to be difficult and warned of the pitfalls I might encounter. However, I did not listen and with my modest savings of Rs 2.5 lakh invested in building my own brand.
|Ruchi operates from home with limited overhead|
Getting started was difficult, I had no fancy office, no employees and no one to give me targets and objectives. I needed to be independent and motivated on a daily basis.
But it came naturally to me because I was following my own passion and living my dream. I simply created my designs from my personal computer and sent them to a supplier who created my design in a sample and after approving it proceeded to bulk production.
I have set myself the goal of launching my first collection of maternity dresses and tunics and listing them on Amazon and Flipkart within the next three months.
I went live and remember the day the first sale was made, July 31, 2020. Within 24 hours of launch I had my first customer – I even remember his name, Malathi – and I was on cloud nine. I quickly started seeing more sales and good reviews, which further helped sales.
I wanted to invest and grow more – raise funds, open an office and hire employees, but the pandemic and lockdowns forced me to think differently.
What if I don’t go the conventional route? What if I decided to focus on my core competency, which is to deploy a solid product and let the ecosystem take care of the rest?
What if I failed? There were a lot of “what ifs” but I decided to give it a try and focus 100% on rolling out styles that my clients loved.
Soon I started expanding my range from 10 styles to 50 styles. Order volumes have increased disproportionately, as have good reviews and regular users. More marketplaces started working with me.
|A model in maternity clothes designed by Ruchi|
I continued to focus on rolling out new designs every month and partnering with outside companies for everything else – manufacturing, sales, marketing, logistics, photoshoot, GST handling, etc.
I’ve learned that it’s hard to run a profitable business, but there’s already a huge ecosystem of businesses that are ready to partner up and grow creators and entrepreneurs like me.
Using a fully ecosystem-driven model, I was able to work on my passion while growing my business to be on track for 5Cr ARR this year and a healthy profit margin.
Today, “Aaruvi Ruchi Verma” is a leading maternity clothing brand in the markets, with sales growing 30% month-on-month. I am still working from home with no overhead as I have outsourced all my work to other vendors.
I was able to finance my entire expansion from the profits generated by my sales and continue to roll out new products every month. Today, my range is online on Myntra, Ajio, Nykaa fashion, Firstcry, etc. I recently opened my website and rolled out my first collection of casual dresses (non-maternity) last month.
Overall, I’m thrilled with the response I received and will continue to scale my business to new heights. I believe my story will be relevant to all budding entrepreneurs with a passion for creation.
The message I want to share is that nothing is impossible and now there are many opportunities to achieve your dream.