This 25-year-old started an Indian ethnic brand startup from a small warehouse of 1,000 units. Today, AKS Clothings, headquartered in the millennium city of India, Gurugram, has an integrated network of printing, dyeing, stitching, and manufacturing units located in the pink city of Jaipur. Nidhi Yadav, a young, energetic, inspirational designer & Mompreneur who founded AKS Clothings, talks about her journey in an interview with Vishal Jasani
Q – Enlighten us with the journey of your brand since its inception.
Nidhi Yadav – I was always drawn to clothing brands and their stories. So while pursuing the fashion designing course in Italy, I studied the business model of many iconic fashion brands. Inspired by their success, I decided to replicate it in AKS, a brand of Yuvdhi Apparels, in May 2014 with a small seed capital of INR 3.5 lac. We started AKS in a small warehouse of less than a thousand units. The sole idea was to liven up the ethnic fashion market with unique fusion themes and infuse comfort with the everyday need of a new generation of women.
Q – What is the product and service range of AKs clothing?
NY – AKS provides contemporary ethnic wear at an affordable price for women in the 18-35 age group. It also covers fancy partywear clothes infused with the traditional touch; it provides the much-needed comfort and style to office wear, sarees, kurtas, and party wear clothes. The product range varies from work attire to your daily outfits.
One of our different ranges is the Maternity Range, not just any maternity range. It is uniquely customized as maternity cum nursing wear. We felt that mothers are reluctant to buy maternity wear for a short time, say for 4-5 months. Also, not many options regarding colours, fabrics, prints, and silhouettes are available. Moreover, it burns some extra cash. So to solve all these problems we thought of launching a maternity wear range. In kid’s wear, we do two different collections. One is the Mother-Daughter Range. Another is Siblings Collection. Since we look at Aks as a one-stop shop for all our ethnic needs, we felt there was a gap in kids’ wear for boys’ ethnic wear. So the idea of launching a Siblings Collection is now a reality.
Today, the brand is available on Nyka fashion, Ajio, Jabong, Flipkart, and AKS’s websites. It also has a couple of offline stores in Nagaland. The company also ships products across India, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Famous TV Actresses like Anushka Sen, Tina Datta, Sonal Vengurlekarr, Sunayana Fozdar, Payal Rohatgi, and many more wore our outfits & loved them.
Q – How has the period of the Covid outbreak impacted you?
NY – Apart from healthwise, Covid hit the whole world financially and psychologically. For the retail industry, the initial phase of the pandemic was quite tricky, as everyone had to stay within their houses, and all modes of deliveries were ceased momentarily. The employees were forced to work from home, which hit significantly as the artisanal designers couldn’t operate from the office. However, the later phase of the pandemic eased the financial tension with employees getting back to the office. There was relaxation from the government end for small businesses, and online sales strived as people became comfortable online shopping.
Moreover, later, Aks Clothing -manufactured more than 1 lac PPE kits by May 2020. Also, Aks has started manufacturing 100% cotton masks that are washable, reusable, and reversible. During the lockdown, the brand doesn’t want the workers ( Karigar ) to suffer. So, to engage them, workers are provided with PPE suits and masks. The brand also donated more than 3000 PPE kits to the sanitation workers, the Police force, and the Private Guard. They have also distributed 50,000 masks in Delhi & Jaipur to help the nation.
Q – Being a mompreneur, what are the challenges and consequences you face?
NY – There were some difficulties and challenges in the initial phase of the business, but there was nothing worse for me as my family was always beside me. A meagre seed capital of only 3.5 lakhs, a small warehouse of less than a thousand units, and the responsibility of a 7-month-old baby were some of the toughest challenges before me when I wore the shoes of an entrepreneur. But blessed with my family’s support and good management skills, I could easily overcome these challenges.
In the early days of our business, we used the spare bedroom of our 2BHK home to keep the stocks. I remember we had 936 sets of clothes in our first inventory; we took photos of the products and put them up on e-commerce portals. We kept the investment low.
By starting the business from home, we saved on rent, and also, it was easier to manage my daughter, who was just seven months old then.
My husband and I travelled from Gurugram to Jaipur every weekend during the initial months of establishment. At that time, our baby was less than one year. Working till 3.00 am after making our baby ready for sleep was part of our daily work schedule.
Q – Where do you see AKs Clothing years down the line?
NY – We will go deeper into the popular e-com portals in the country. This time, we will be focusing on our D2C and the franchise model. Apart from this, we have recently collaborated with Neha Dhupia for our Maternity & nursing collection.
We are looking forward to more celebrity connections. Earlier, Aks was into women’s apparel, but we are now evolving as a brand for everyone in the family.