Saris are one of the most elegant dress codes that our Indian women can boast of. Saris and Indian fabrics are a perfect blend of sensuality, style, elegance that have beautifully and strongly stood their ground in the face of modernity.
No amount of western wear can take away the oomph and glamour of a sari and in order to keep the six-yard legacy alive, Nivi has been working relentlessly in this segment.
We caught up with the Founders of Nivi – Geetha Pandey and Priyanka Naidu about their love for the Indian fabric and adorning the women of the country.
Geetha holds a PhD degree in Textiles and Clothing and has almost 16 years of experience working in the industry and academics aspects of Fashion and Textiles, both in India and UK, until she co-founded NIVI along with Priyanka.
Priyanka, on the other hand, is an M.Sc. Degree holder in Textiles and Clothing and has also completed her B.Ed. course. Her 18-year work experience boasts of being Head of Department (Fashion and Apparel Design), senior Merchandiser- Banana Republic Women’s and has also been teaching as well.
Since both hail from the textile industry and have worked in this field for over 15 years, it has been an added advantage to their very first entrepreneurial venture.
How did it all begin?
Nivi was started in November 2016 based on the demands of friends and relatives struggling to buy traditional fabrics at affordable prices. “There is a growing need for owning a prized traditional fabric among woman today. Benares brocade, Paithani, Kasuti is no longer for a select few. Every woman, young or old wants to have these in their wardrobe and flaunt it too and in that context, Nivi was inspired by this need to give a treasure to one and all,” adds Geetha.
Geetha recalls, “Priyanka and myself started Nivi with zero investment. To start with, we were apprehensive about the reception Nivi would get from its customers. But in this short span of time, we have received an astounding response from our customers and our clientele base has almost tripled.”
In just four months Nivi has sold out their exclusive handloom Paithani collection, South Cottons, Kasuti embroidered Ilkal, Narayanpet collection, Gadwal, Venkatagiri, silk chiffons and Bhagalpuri silk. In fact, on popular demand, they have already restocked the above collections and also added their new collection of exclusives, which they’re going to launch shortly.
Their biggest challenge is repeatability of products, customers getting bored, as they already own a special category.
“This is a very competitive field; hence it’s necessary to constantly keep innovating to maintain novelty of the product and present it to customers in different forms. Many of our customers come back to us saying though the sari is beautiful; since they don’t wear it often they don’t want to buy it. That’s when we came up with the idea of presenting the traditional saris as dupattas to customers. This became an instant hit with them. The bigger task was convincing the weavers to come on board as to produce dupattas they have to reset the loom, which is time-consuming. Customer satisfaction through product and services is the key to keep them coming back for more at NIVI,” smiles Geetha.
What makes NIVI unique?
Nivi stands out because they are a customised boutique offering their customers products directly from the weavers. This allows them to reduce their cost and mark their products at a reasonable price while maintaining the quality and genuineness at the same time. “Another USP of Nivi is that we retain the originality of the tradition in each and every product that we offer to our customers,” adds Priyanka.
Geetha further adds, “We source our products directly from the weavers. We are currently working with weavers from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha and will be expanding to other states as well. We have a lot of customers coming back to us asking specifically for certain sarees or dupattas or blouse material. This gives an idea as to what are in demand and also social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram has been our major source of the resource as to what customers are looking for and if the product will sell once introduced. When we design and source a new collection we are taking a certain risk but that is a risk we have to take.”
The various products available under the Nivi brand name are Ilkal, Kasuti embroidered Ilkal, South cottons, Paithani, Gadwal, Venkatagiri, Narayanpet, Benarasi, Bhagalpuri silk. They have ventured into and developed blouse material and dupattas as well, which have been an immediate sell out for them. In fact, Nivi also dabbles in handloom and some power loom versions as well. The prices range from INR 700 to INR 20,000 for saris and blouses and dupattas range from INR 200 to INR 1000.
Priyanka explains, “We promote and sell via digital marketing. We promote products on social media and have our Facebook page and group (Nivi- yards of tradition) where we exhibit our products. Also via Whatsapp where we try to personally reach out to our customer base.”
Both Geetha and Priyanka work as a two-woman team where Priyanka looks after the sourcing and quality aspect of the business. While Geetha overlooks the designing and marketing aspects, the finance and sales are handled by both of them.
“We are very realistic and simple with our future plan. We want to expand our customer base even further and keep on giving quality products at amazing prices to our customers. We want to strive to reach out to more weavers and bring their art directly to our customers,” smiles Geetha.
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