Read the interview with Anand Kumar, Theo and Ash
Please explain your venture to us in brief.
Theo&Ash is a contemporary fashion brand that is bringing about a revolution in all things leather. The brand specializes in the manufacture and retail of Leather Jackets for men and women. Having manufactured for some of the leading fashion labels in Europe, Theo&Ash now brings to India premium hand crafted leather jackets and accessories straight from its factory.
Theo&Ash offers its customers a wide range of biker jackets, blazers, aviators, bomber jackets, suede jackets and trench coats with a distinct style and attitude. At Theo&Ash expert design and superior manufacturing techniques ensure that every leather jacket is durable, stylish and also provides the best value for money. Stylish, Sophisticated, Vintage, Carefree and Independent are words that best describe the brand and our products.
When did you join the business? What have you brought to the table?
The concept of Theo&Ash was conceived in 2013 during one of our Family dinners and it took us close to 8 months to put everything in place and begin operations. I’ve been a part of this right from the conceptualization stage. The team was formed in January 2014 and we’ve been enjoying seeing things fall in place one after another.
I bring with me valuable domain and industry knowledge that I gained through 5 years of working in the Family Leather business. I got to view the business and the industry from bottom down when I joined in 2008 and me having to climb up the ladder to assume a leadership role has helped me understand people, resources and how things work from every possible angle.
The experience of having a start-up prior to Theo&Ash helped me form a team that was lean and strong at the same time. I am still able to manage financial and human resources prudently – a quality that every start up needs to survive the tough initial years. I believe in the mantra of ‘doing first’ and never demand something off people that I wouldn’t do myself. Most importantly I think I bring the right attitude to the table.
What makes this particular concept different? Are there competitors? If yes, how do you stand out?
We love to compete and being in the Fashion sphere we find numerous Brands trying to capture the mind space of the customer. However, since Leather and Leather products are treated as niche we don’t find many brands that can provide the right experience at the right price within our product category.
We differentiate ourselves with our business model and product offering. We are staying lean and expanding our reach by being online first. This lets us transcend boundaries and cater to a nationwide audience without any expenditure on real estate. As a brand we are disrupting the fashion space by offering bespoke services in the leather industry. We customize the fit of the jacket to suit every consumer’s preference and we also put design in the hands of the consumer by letting them add or subtract certain design elements in a jacket as per their individual taste and preference.
What is the revenue model?
We see most of our revenue flowing in from the online sales that we generate. We have our own website that is growing at 200% month on month with respect to sales and visitors. We also have our channel partners – Flipkart, Jabong, Fashionara, Snapdeal, Style Tag and many more marketplaces which house our products and through them we have widened our scope of sales and brand awareness.
Soon our products will retail in multi brand retail stores and in boutique stores which house interesting fashion labels. This will provide a physical presence to the brand and will also be a big source of revenue for us.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting with the innovation? How is this going to affect them?
Like I mentioned before, Theo&Ash will be disrupting the leather industry by offering bespoke services to its customers. Through our service, customers will not only get a jacket that is tailored to fit like a glove, they will be able to customize their own leather product by actively participating in the design process. This feature will be integrated on to our website through proprietary software that will enable customers to view their design real time and will guide them through the process effortlessly. Imagine, having the option of choosing the number and type of pockets that you would like on the jacket , choosing from a wide range of colors, choosing the finish of your embellishments and having your signature on the product, all at the click of a button from the comfort of your house.
What is the potential of growth?
At Theo&Ash we don’t view ourselves as an Indian brand, we see ourselves as an International Fashion brand from India. We are looking to scale our operations internationally and cater to countries where leather products are expensive and yet they are extensively used. Our direct from factory to customer model will provide products at great prices to the international customers and our quality will be unmatched. Internationally 1.5 lakh crores worth of leather garments and leather products are traded yearly. There is a big market out there and we wish to make our presence felt by delivering one quality product at a time.
What is the strength of the organization and the scale of operations?
We launched our operations in June 2014 and within 5 months we have touched revenues of over Rs 10,00,000. Winter is here are we are looking to double our turnover in the next 2 and half months. Post winter we will launch our summer collection and with that you can also see us diversify into other product categories like wallets, handbags, belts and travel accessories.
The strength of our Brand can be attributed to our core belief; ‘Everything for a satisfied customer’. All our strategies, designs, business decisions and even hiring is done based on that single governing principle. This has helped on focus on what’s necessary and has also won us many a patrons.
Give us a brief background of what you were doing before starting the venture.
Cricket was a big part of my life and I played the sport professionally up until 2008. Before launching Theo&Ash I spent most of my time with my other startup – Photocopy Inc. We transformed a simple medium such as photocopying into a platform for brand building and advertising. The business is still operational and having set up processes to run the business I returned to the Family Leather business to take up a leadership role and expand our presence into new markets. It was during one of our family discussions on the next big opportunity in leather, when Theo&Ash the concept was formed and we immediately knew that the time was right to launch.
We are fully committed to seeing this brand grow and reach great heights. We are grooming Theo&Ash to be the go to brand for all things leather. We wish to create a niche for ourselves and we would like to be known as a brand with the most number of satisfied customers.
Have you received any funding so far? Are you looking for funds? If yes how do you look to allocate the funds?
No, we haven’t received any funding so far. We are completely aware that we would require external funding to scale our operations and to achieve all that we set out to. Currently we are bootstrapped and we will be pursuing external investors beginning from 2015.
What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
We learnt that to build a brand from scratch is no mean task. We've had to deliver great products day in and day out and also had to build a positive brand perception in the market. All this had to be done without burning a hole in our pockets. Staying lean and yet communicating well was and is a challenge. But to me the biggest challenge was to learn and implement all the procedures and the mandatory filings that a company must follow to run a business in India.