For Kolkata-based fashion designer Shibaji Sarkar, the transition from designer to e-tailer came at a time when he was trying to find his true calling and to work for himself. After graduating at the top of his class from the National Institute of Fashion Designing (NFID), Shibaji began working as a textile designer with a Surat-based company. The company used to provide him with the fabric, and he had to design it by drawing on a computer. The clothes designed by him would then be sold all over the country. He worked in similar roles for six years across Surat, Ahmedabad and New Delhi.
However, soon Shibaji began wondering – ‘Why can’t I do this job by myself and for myself?’
“I knew everything about sourcing clothes, stitching, designing, etc. I wanted to move back to Kolkata as well. So, I thought what would be the best way for me to reach customers all over India from my home and sell locally-sourced fabric? The answer was simple: Flipkart!”
The Flipkart advantage
With no experience in online selling or running a business, Shibaji began researching and finally zeroed in on the idea of selling kidswear on Flipkart and his brand Kaarigari Dzine was born.
A novice in retailing and e-commerce, Shibaji heavily relied on the Flipkart seller support team for help. “Although I didn’t have any knowledge about running a business online, Flipkart’s seller support team made it possible for me to start this venture. They provided me with all the information I needed. I didn’t know how to list my products either. I used to call them at least 8-9 times a day. I wouldn’t be able to start this business without them,” he says.
The account manager also advised Shibaji to start advertising his products, which helped him receive a lot more sales and visibility.
Kaarigari Dzine has thrived on Flipkart.
While at first Shibaji did everything by himself, from designing to stitching to listing and packaging, he later had to hire two people to help him out. He now has a team of 65 to 70 employees. What started out as three to four orders in a day, has now escalated to more than 1,000 orders per day.
While Kaarigari Dzine started with a budget of Rs 2 lakh, Shibaji soon had to increase his production as the account became popular. This required additional capital. That’s when Flipkart came to his aid yet again with the Flipkart Growth Capital scheme. “Under this scheme, I was able to avail a loan of Rs 2,50,000. It was a hassle-free experience and the loan repayment is deducted from my monthly payments.”
From packaging to storing to picking up and delivering, Flipkart’s logistics arm has also been a major support in fulfilling customer orders in time. While growing his business, there were several attempts by people to copy Shibaji’s products. However, the counsel from the account management team helped him obtain a trademark to stop such infringements, said Shibaji.
From strength to strength
In the first month of starting out on Flipkart, Shibaji had a monthly turnover of around Rs 25,000. This doubled by the second month. Now, almost three years later, his monthly turnover is a whopping Rs. 40,000 lakh.
He attributes his unique designs as one of the biggest factors for his growth. “All my designs are unique. Apart from this, advertising and the guidance I receive from my account manager play a huge role. Another factor that leads to our growth is that we always keep various warehouses stocked with products. This leads to more efficient and seamless delivery of products.”
The Big Billion Days Sale (TBBD) is another massive opportunity and instrumental in driving growth. During this period, Shibaji’s orders quadruple, and he keeps stocks ready at least two months in advance. “The Big Billion Days Sale contributes almost 60 percent of our business during the month. Ahead of TBBD, we receive significant intelligence from the account manager on how to approach the sale and what products are likely to be in higher demand. This is based on an analysis of our performance as well as consumer sentiment. We are able to make business decisions based on this guidance and prepare for the sale event.”
With the downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, TBBD for 2020 was key for sellers like Shibaji and played a big role in lifting consumer sentiment. It kickstarted demand in India ahead of the festive season and gave Shibaji an opportunity to get back on the growth track by fulfilling the pent-up consumer demand that existed in the market. “The Big Billion Days Sale saw as many as 2,500-3,000 orders per day, for which we worked round the clock, taking all the Covid-19 precautions,” he said.
Recently, Shibaji received the Top City Flipstar award for Kolkata, which he says is a testimony to his teams’ hard work. This is the second consecutive year when he received this award. “Being one of the highest performing sellers in Kolkata during BBD Sale is an achievement we could not have bagged without the assistance from Flipkart,” he said.
From the beginning of his e-commerce journey with Flipkart, Shibaji has been selling kidswear. He has now expanded operations within the same category to bring in new designs and more unique options. The pan-India reach that Flipkart provided him has resulted in creating a large customer base for his products in South India too.
Shibaji now plans to expand his brand to womenswear. “Given my experience and knowledge of fabrics and designs, I want to offer unique, self-created designs and am working slowly towards them. I also want to expand my reach and offer products to people from more parts of India, especially in the North- East.”