Anchal: Journey With Chikankari
Anchal a lady born and brought up in the land of Chikankari Lucknow, now heads up her own online venture of Chikankari Store. Here is a brief talk that we had with her:
What was the motivation for setting up Dress365days? Was there any specific market gaps that you wanted to bridge?
I am an online shopping freak and have been doing lot of shopping on top fashion stores for quite some time. During this phase I found out that there was ecommerce company selling designer Chikankari( oldest and renowed artwork of ancient Lucknow). Most of them were selling low quality similar types of dresses , but no one has ventured into designer items in Chikankari. The heavy pure georgette lehengas,sarees and anarkalis with mukaish/kamdani work were out of the seen. I saw this as an opportunity to serve people across the globe. Since I have been born and brought up in Lucknow, it was easy for me to start my own workshop.
Also, I have tested out this idea with many people in my social circle and found people craving for chikan stuff which I used to bring for them whenever I went to Lucknow. All this, motivated me to start my online portal and let this ancient craftsmanship spread globally.
When did you start Dress365days and what was the seed capital?
Dress365days started its journey in April 2013 with a capital of 5 lakh initially.
Please share some milestone achievements of Dress365days.
In a years time, we have exported to almost all major countries. Domestic sales have also taken a quantum leap especially in tier 2and tier 3 cities. Till now, Touch wood, we don’t have any dissatisfied customer. We have our loyal set of customers both in India and Abroad.
In a nutshell, what does the Dress365days offer?
Dress365days is an Exclusive online Lucknow chikankari store for Chikankari Hand Embroidered Kurtis, Dress Material,Saree,Kid’s and Men’s wear at very reasonable rates. Our endeavour is to provide quality products to the connoisseurs of chikankari. Our foremost aim is to not let this ancient artwork be limited to where it originated but spread to all geographies . Dress365days with its exclusive online store brings a wide variety of Kurtis,short tops,sarees, Dress Materials in both cotton and georgette fabric Gent’s and kid’s wear. Our success reflects in our increasing number of client base especially in Canada,US,UK and Middle East in a short span of time.
One of our main attraction is our collection of designer wear with intricate chikankari and muquaish work on both pure georgette and cotton fabric. It comprises of unstitched kurti fabrics, heavily embroidered dress materials and semi stitched anarkalis in pure georgette fabric. These are at par in quality with the stuff provided by leading fashion houses but without making a hole in your pockets. This collection is very much in demand during festive seasons like Diwali, Eid or weddings by customers across the world. Our ensembles have been very much liked by all.
What caught your interest in Chikankari work?
Since I have been born and brought up in lucknow, there was feasibility in terms of getting artisans, craftsmen who are into this work. Secondly as mentioned earlier, there are very few people in this online presence of chikan stuff. People are selling stuff at very premium rates. We are here to bridge the gap so that common people can also afford good Chikankari apparels. Heavy Designer dresses are sold by designer house at exorbitant rates. We combined both uniqueness and affordability to bring the best for our customers.
Are your craftsmen or artisans especially from Luknow and what’s the market for Chikankari work?
Yes, The craftsmen are basically from Lucknow who have devoted their entire life for this artwork. We are committed to do something for the entire community. In the present time, there is a vast variety of chikan work in different types of fabric. It’s liked by people across the globe like India, USA, UK, Middle East, Australia and NewZealand.
How has the response been so far?
The response has been really good which can be seen from the increasing number of customers both in India and Abroad. Our customers include not only people of Indian origin or NRI’s but also people from different nationalities.
What’s the market globally for Dress365days?
India and Asian subcontinent, Middle East, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand
What are some of your drivers/ personal/professional motivations?
The feeling of doing something and managing everything on your own keeps it going. At the end of the day when there is no energy left, the feedback from my customers rejuvenate me for the next day. Here I must also mention the tremendous support of my husband, without which it would not be possible to reach here. He motivated me and took care of my kid while I was occupied with my work.
Any advice for women entrepreneurs?
Just listen to your heart and do what you are best at. If you have the guts to do , nobody can stop you to reach greater heights. There will be phases of struggle and disappointments, but never lose hope.
As a women what were the difficulties you faced?
The most important was managing the house and bringing up my 2 year old kid. But all this was overcome by the support I got from my husband.