An extension of their personalities, Aparna and Ambika conceptualised and founded Shobitam on March 8th, 2019 (on International Women’s Day) with a mission to make people “Look good, Do good, and Feel good!”. What started as a pilot launch on Etsy has now transfigured into a fast-growing start-up with over 300 percent growth in revenues and reviews touching the sky.
Having moved to Seattle after marriage, Aparna yearned for authentic Indian wear and its essence. She felt the need to charter a bond that would be a reminder of home.
In her own words, “When I felt a sense of longing for home, I realised that 18 million NRIs must be feeling the same. Therefore, I had to do something where ethnic clothing made the most sense with our passion for fashion and creative personalities – so we launched Shobitam on a global scale!”
Shobitam began its journey by selling a modest offering of 15 sarees we designed and within three years it has scaled to a selection of over 1500+ products and shipped to more than 40+ countries. As of October 2022, Shobitam is one of the fastest-growing D2C ethnic fashion brands. This was possible because of two factors –
- Hiring a strong, trustworthy and high performing team that can embody the values of Shobitam and obsess on customers.
- The unwavering loyalty of the talented weavers and artisans. Within a year of its operations, Shobitam faced the global pandemic that shut the shops of its weavers. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic when businesses had come to a standstill, Shobitam was actively collaborating with each of its weavers and started aggressively doubling down on the market opportunity through a digital first e-commerce led model. Additionally, to financially support its 600 weavers spread across the country, Aparna launched the ‘Shobitam Give’ program where 50% of all business proceeds were donated in the form of food, rations and other supplies to support their weavers. A huge bet that has now paid off big time for Shobitam through the loyalty of its weavers.
Aparna remarks, “We always look at challenges as opportunities. We saw the pandemic as the biggest opportunity for learning, unlearning and aggressively doubling down on our e-commerce led strategy!”
Shobitam’s motto is simple – ‘Weavers First, Customers First.’ Aparna and her team believe in finding a balance between the satisfaction of both the weavers and customers and not one over the other. This vision has manifested in the most successful form as Shobitam boasts of a customer repeat rate of 39% with Average Order Value of ~ $ 230 (Rs 18,000), which are industry best in class numbers. Simultaneously, in a span of 3 years, Shobitam has gathered over 6000+ five-star reviews for its products, yet again a commendable feat as per industry standards.
Shobitam is a customer-obsessed brand and has reaped the rewards of it. Word of mouth has been its cornerstone. They engage with the global audience through regular Facebook posts, community content, deep customer engagement across social media and personalised ads. A social media initiative called ‘Shobitam Fashionistas’ has helped build an evangelical community of customers who have given unconditional shoutouts to the brand, thus pulling organic engagement. Shobitam’s secret is – great content with UX + deep engagement and follow-up with the community.
Shobitam houses a range of products such as sarees, blouses, gowns, dupattas, jewellery, men’s wear, kids wear and more. Many of these products are handwoven using detailed centuries old heirloom weaving techniques. Through their work, Shobitam is also busting the myth that merely luxury silk fabrics are popular amongst South Asian NRIs. What Shobitam has decoded is that any fabric retaining its authenticity, offering beautiful selections with unique designs and being priced appropriately holds the attention of the customers.
With several new products for the festive season, Shobitam launched its Diwali campaign in October 2022 called ‘Timeless Weaves for Timeless Moments.’ The campaign is also Shobitam’s philosophy, that is – not fast fashion, but a piece of tradition is passed down to generations through their eternal handlooms. The campaign is performing exceedingly well in the global and national markets with emotional reviews pouring in for every order.
In this context, Aparna echoes the spirit of the campaign and says, “At Shobitam we aim to keep the threads of culture and nostalgia alive globally. It is easy to sway toward the fast fashion wind, but we consider ourselves as ‘custodians of culture & tradition’ through our eternal handlooms.
Shobitam is a technology-first brand in an industry that is not very tech-savvy. This is due to the immense tech background of its founders and the opportunity to disrupt the vast handlooms, arts and crafts industry which is sorely lacking in technological use and is fragmented. Leveraging technology deeply has given both the backend and the frontend operations of the firm an airlift leading to immense growth and customer love. Today, Shobitam sits at a phenomenal ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) of Rs 22 crores which has been accomplished in just 3 years as a D2C start-up and is rapidly scaling to deliver for its tens of thousands of customers globally while focusing on unique selections, quality, value, convenience and 5-star service.
The future is bright for Shobitam with the advent of technological enhancement and its ever-increasing goodwill as a brand.
Aparna delves into the future of Shobitam and says, “We want to be very mission led with a sense of purpose while continuing to rapidly grow the business and leverage technology to disrupt the industry. We want to build a world class ethnic fashion brand from India for the World!”