By Rekha Balakrishnan
July 06, 2022, Updated on : Fri Jul 08 2022
After working in corporate houses for seven years, NIFT alumna Ruchi Verma started her own brand, Aaruvi Ruchi Verma, in 2020. It’s one of the top-selling maternity brands on marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, and Myntra.
When the pandemic hit the world in 2020, fashion designer Ruchi Verma was working a full-time job at a fashion house in Delhi. Unlike a lot of other companies that allowed remote working, Ruchi was under constant stress because she had to attend office regularly. Managing work and home was becoming difficult and add to it, the fear of contracting the virus, especially when India was experiencing a harsh wave.
“I had always wanted to start out on my own and this proved to be the right time for it. I quit my job and started researching online and gathering insights/trends based on product popularity, customer reviews, etc., on what works in the market,” Ruchi tells HerStory.
Born and raised in Darbhanga, Bihar, a passion for the Arts and some gentle prodding from her encouraging father took Ruchi to National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Mumbai. There, she learned about Indian designs and focused her dissertation on women’s, girl’s and kid’s wear.
After completing her graduation, she joined The Shirt Company in Navi Mumbai, designing dresses for Barbie dolls. After two years, she joined Westside that put her in charge of the kids wear (boy’s) section, though her interest lay in designing outfits for little girls.
“They were very happy with my designs for little girls, but the position available was for designing boy’s clothes. For two years, I worked on research and development for this section, travelling to Dubai and researching trends and enjoying my work,” Ruchi says.
However, she had to quit her job to move to Delhi because her husband was transferred. She joined Spencer’s and then the pandemic struck in 2020.
“After working in corporate houses for three years, I realised that work life was hectic for me as a woman and I was finding it difficult to continue,” she says. This is when she decided to launch her own online fashion brand, Aaruvi Ruchi Verma, from home, with minimal investment and zero employees.
Comfortable and convenient
During her initial research, Ruchi noticed that most women complained that the maternity wear available in the market was not comfortable, the prints were not attractive, and design elements like zippers in feeding dresses were visible. Ruchi worked on these aspects and made sure her line was comfortable, chic, and also convenient.
“I invested Rs 2.5 lakh, and using a network of local vendors, produced my first collection of maternity wear dresses and tunics. I listed them on Amazon and Flipkart and started seeing sales and good reviews. I wanted to invest and expand more, raise money, open an office, hire employees, etc, but the pandemic and lockdowns forced me to think differently,” Ruchi says.
She ditched the conventional route and decided to focus on her core competency and rolling out a strong product.
“What if I fail? There were many "what ifs", but I decided to give it a try and focus 100 percent on rolling out styles that my customers loved. Soon, I started expanding my range from 10 styles to 50 styles. The order volumes grew disproportionately and so did good reviews and repeat users,” she says.
More marketplaces began to work with Ruchi, including Ajio, Myntra, FirstCry, and Nykaa Fashion. The price range is around Rs 1,500.
“I continued focusing on rolling out new designs every month and partnered with external companies for everything else--manufacturing, sales, marketing, logistics, photoshoot, GST management, etc. I learnt that running a profitable business is hard, but there already is a huge ecosystem of companies that are willing to partner and grow creators and entrepreneurs like me and that makes it possible,” she adds.
Last month, Ruchi launched her own website and rolled out her first collection of casual wear dresses. She has plans to expand her existing 50 SKUs in maternity wear and also feature skirts, tunics, and blouses.
She says the response has been “phenomenal with ratings of 4 and above on most of the marketplaces”.
“My outfits are dispatched with a personalised card wishing the user ‘Happy Motherhood’ and other emotional messages. I think this has touched a chord,” she says.
As the only person running the business, does Ruchi feel overwhelmed?
“Not at all,” she says, adding, “I work from home and visit my vendors rarely. Even the fabric is delivered to me to choose from. I plan my day meticulously and manage my time well. I also have a business plan ready three months in advance. This has helped me prioritise time spent for business and family,” Ruchi explains.
Aaruvi Ruchi Verma remains a bootstrapped company with zero capital raised so far, zero employees, and zero fixed cost investment.
“I have been able to fund my expansion using profits created from sales and continue to roll out new products every month. Our sales are growing 30 percent month-on-month and we are all set to clock an ARR of Rs 5 crore this fiscal,” she shares.