Winter is coming and with it, an irresistible urge to bundle up and stay warm. But the times of burrowing into an ill-fitting sweater or jacket have passed, this winter you can stay chic and fashionable in a well made, leather product by Theo&Ash. Founded by Anand Kumar, Nehal Anand and Avinash Kumar Theo&Ash caters to the eternally stylish Indian consumer who hankers after adventure. We chat with Anand Kumar about the Venture. An Excerpt from the Interview What made you start your venture? India is one of leading manufacturers in the world for Leather garments and Leather products. Most of the top fashion brands in world tend to source their leather products from India and yet there has been no significant Fashion brand from our country that’s rooted firmly in Leather. Backed by a dedicated factory that understands leather and leather products like no other, we knew the time was right to launch Theo&Ash – a brand that would provide Leather products of the highest quality at accessible price points to the Indian consumer. What has been the Key to your business success? The key to our success is and will always be our unparalleled domain knowledge. We understand the intricacies of working with Leather as a raw material and we possess the expertise to develop products that would portray leather as an attitude. A completely backward integrated manufacturing set up ensures that the product turnaround time is extremely quick and it helps us consistently innovate with our product offering. Another key element that drives our business is the strong core team that shares a common vision and is determined to deliver. We have imbibed a culture of ‘Everything for a satisfied customer’ and all our actions and decisions are governed by that single principle. What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them? As a brand we are trying to break the mould that Leather products are extremely expensive and pricey. We are doing it by delivering one quality product at a time. Word of mouth has been a great source of traffic to our website (www.theoandash.com) – Happy customers have referred their friends and family to us and we are honored to have a great set of patrons. Chennai is where our base is and it sometimes gets tough to reach out to the entire country from down south. However our strategy of being online first has helped us transcend boundaries and cater to a nationwide audience. Most importantly we are at a stage where scaling the brand requires quite some financial resources. We bootstrapped our start-up and have been ‘lean’ in every sense with our expenses – Founders don’t draw a salary and costs are kept at bare minimum. We have thoroughly enjoyed the journey thus far, however we would require funding to scale the business and operations – we are meeting this challenge by seeking out investors who believe in our vision and our ability to establish the Best Leather brand in the world. Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business? We seek out information in all forms. Be it from the experienced and knowledgeable people that we meet along the way or from the infinite amount of literature that is available on the internet. We believe in the concept that ‘Everything can be learnt’ – Information gathered from newspapers, magazines, startup forums, and the internet has been our MBA. On the product front we have Mr. N.Kumar and Mr. N.Mohan advising us. Both of them are experts in the Leather industry and they are our constant source of inspiration for all things leather. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? We have a fairly simple business model that works off the internet; all we require is a good website to showcase the brand and our products. For our backend operations Excel as a tool has been fantastic and we have sailed smooth thus far. Going forth we have begun work on developing a proprietary application that will be integrated onto our website. This new innovation will put design in the hands of the consumer and customers will be able to customize their Leather jackets and Leather products in real time right on our web portal. What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion? Our core policy of ‘Everything for a satisfied customer’ keeps us focused on what we need to do on daily basis. All our interactions with our customers, our business decisions, strategies and even hiring decisions are made based on that single governing principle. We plan to expand our business by widening our product portfolio. We currently retail in Premium hand crafted leather jackets and we are soon introducing a wide range of Handbags, Wallets, Travel Bags, Belts and Accessories. This will provide our customers with a wide range of product choice and it will also help us acquire customers at lower price points. Our new feature of ‘Design you own product’ will disrupt the Leather segment and it’s a work in progress. We don’t see ourselves as an Indian Brand, we see ourselves as an International Fashion brand from India. We intend to expand our boundaries to spread well past our borders and our ‘Online First’ strategy provides us with the scope for worldwide expansion. What according to you are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? 1. Ability to spot opportunities and dive in to it – A successful entrepreneur spots opportunity both within his/her business and without. He/she would then dive into what’s been spotted and analyse the pros and cons before beginning to execute the detail. 2. Building a strong team and setting up processes in place for the team to execute – A successful entrepreneur must be able to translate his/her vision into it being the team’s vision. It is the job of the entrepreneur to consistently motivate the team to push boundaries and barriers. 3. Confidence and Patience – A confident person makes a good entrepreneur, what makes that entrepreneur even more powerful is when he/she is patient enough to withstand the test of time and market. Visit their Website:www.theoandash.com Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheoAndAsh
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