Journey of an fashion entrepreneur who is taking Rural Artisans mainstream
Katha brings to you an entrepreneurial story of a fashion entrepreneur from Mumbai-India.
She is helping elevate the Indian fashion masterpiece, SAREE to the global fashion platform and helping provide a opportunity to rural artisans in Assam to showcase their creations.
Actively contributing towards building a sustainable fashion industry and providing employment opportunities to rural women in India. She is pushing the global fashion industry forward through fresh design, innovation, new business model and eco-friendly fabric.
Meet this fashion entrepreneur from Mumbai India who is on a journey to build sustainable and eco-friendly fashion. Rajshree Choudhury Founder and CEO of Raaga Silk Tales.
It is said that fashion is ever changing but let’s pause for a moment and think if the fashion industry has a trend that never fades and is a timeless masterpiece ? Yes , there is one such attire which represents the rich legacy of Indian culture and heritage. THE SAREE.
The Saree has made a fashion statement for centuries, from the famous Ravi Verma paintings to the Oscar awards, the Saree has remained a classic forever in a world full of short lived trends.
The brand Raaga Silk Tales is a homegrown Indian brand and fresh design house that weaves a range of Sarees with a blend of tradition and contemporaneity. They are an E-Commerce platform selling hand weaved eco-friendly Sarees which are affordable and offer variety from daily wear to festive wear.
The brand was born out of Rajshree's passion and love for handloom and each design is unique and has an inspiration behind it, she takes these inspirations from many cultures across India and endorses it in her unique designs and fabric.
Rajshree started Raaga Silk Tales with an initial investment of 3 lakhs, and currently draws a multiple fold turnover per year and growing at an exponential rate. What makes Raaga Silk Tales unique is that, through her brand she is providing employment opportunities to rural women in India.
“It’s been a tremendous journey so far and I see enormous growth potential for our products. Raaga Silk Tales products have reached customers all over the world and we are growing strong and big”, she says.
Currently they cater to US and India markets and envision expanding their market base. They use cotton, Eri Silk which is also known as the Ahimsa or Peace Silk, mulberry Silk and many other blends of yarns to create their own fabrics for the Saree.
“Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession”.
Rajshree drives her passion for handmade from her family and is very proud and passionate about carrying this legacy forward, she grew up watching her mom and her grandma weave clothes at home.
She was born and brought up in the richness of Assam, and soon after completing her graduation she began her career as a model and actor in Delhi, later she moved to Mumbai post her marriage. While she loved her work at the same time it demanded odd working hours which seemed challenging after she embarked on her motherhood journey.
She craved for the perfect balance between her home, motherhood and career, and wished to have the luxury to choose her own work timing while being financially independent.
The motherhood transition in her life initiated a different thought process in her mind, which in turn inspired her to start a business of her own.
“I did a lot of initial research before jumping into the business. I started with a very small amount from my savings, so I didn’t have the luxury to go big and try out everything and see what works. I did a lot of market research and the products which could be the best quality with an affordable price. So it actually took me 2 years to get started”, she says.
She knew her passion was in weaving and handmade products, but at the same time she wasn’t clear about the way forward.
“In 2018 I decided to go ahead with my instinct and thus Raaga Silk Tales was born. I went to my husband with the idea and his first question was how are you going to market it?
And from there all my research work started. Without my husband's support I would not have come so far”, she says.
She began her research and traveled to remote areas to meet the weavers and gather first hand information about the market, later she spent several months researching and thinking about the designs and fabric.
Rajshree was very clear in her mind of producing and weaving Sarees which are handmade and eco-friendly and this is the USP of Raaga Silk Tales.
“My grandmother used to weave her own clothes, she had a handloom installed in her house and every vacation we used to visit her, she would be busy with her processes of making her own Mekhela Chador in her loom. So deciding to go with a handloom saree was an obvious choice. Also the love for art and culture added up in deciding to go handloom. The amount of hard work, time, and love put in our handloom weave is immense”.
Building a sustainable fashion brings along its own challenges. While the fabric and design bring along a new and fresh look, and take fashion to a new level, at the same time it is equally challenging to weave these masterpieces.
The weavers of Raaga Silk Tales are based in Assam, and this brings along ample of challenges for Rajshree as she is based in Mumbai, right from communicating with the weavers to explaining the details of a design to rural women to logistic challenges, every step in weaving a masterpiece is challenging.
“I cannot be at all places at all times, as I live in Mumbai and the weavers are in remote areas. Looking into the production and keeping a record of stock also continues to be one of the challenges I am facing, but I am hoping to increase my staff in the future as we grow bigger”, she says.
The Growth and Vision
She plans to enter new global markets, collaborate with other brands and envisions to showcase her brand creations at Lakme Fashion Week.
With Raaga Silk Tales growing year on year she also plans to take the brand into the wholesale market and grow it bigger and create a bigger impact.
My only advice to new entrepreneurs would be to keep doing what you love doing and you will get there. Also don’t jump into doing a business just because everyone else is doing it. Find the niche in your field of interest.
Business Philosophy for a fashion with purpose
My Business philosophy is I create fashion products with natural fabrics and eco friendly fabrics. Our products are handmade completely and it’s a conscious effort to do everything sustainable and handmade. I use Cotton, Eri Silk which is also known as the Ahimsa or Peace Silk, mulberry Silk and many other blends of yarns to create our own fabrics for the Saree.
Knowing Rajshree as a Person
When I face big challenges : I keep a positive mind because every challenge adds on to my experience and I try to look for the relevant solution.
The courageous thing I have ever done : Deciding to move to Delhi to pursue my modelling career after my college was a thing for me as I was an introvert back then.
When I was 20 I would tell myself : To be more open and expressive as I was a very introvert and shy person.
I believe in : Karma and consistency. Success comes to those who are willing to help themselves, push themselves to get what they want.
My favorite business tool is: Google
Visit www.raagasilktales.com if you wish to own Raaga Silk Tales masterpiece in your wardrobe.