Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Big Dreams with Little Box


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Fashion has evolved significantly in recent years, particularly among the younger generation, such as GenZ, who are constantly experimenting with different styles and drawing inspiration from various cultures around the world. For many individuals, fashion has now become a way to express their identity. A summer pop up in the city, the first ever such event in Shillong was held on May 4, 24. The fashion event showcased the brand’s summer collection, had a meet and greet corner with the CEO, Rimjim Deka as well as a selfie booth and giveaway engaging with local influencers.

In this week’s Sunday Shillong, we bring to our readers an exclusive interview with Rimjim Deka (RD), the creative mind behind the home grown women’s clothing and footwear brand, Little Box. Little Box sets itself apart by addressing key fashion industry challenges such as affordability, inclusivity, and, notably, sustainability. Unlike many fast fashion brands, Little Box proudly stands as a zero-waste brand. Little box currently has 3 Stores which includes one in Shillong, Guwahati and Delhi. They are now trying to expand more in the online market.

Deka along with her spouse Partha Kakati, embarked on their business journey in June 2022. They also had the opportunity to showcase their venture on Shark Tank India Season 3, where they successfully secured a deal with all five Sharks. Excerpts of the interview are as follows:

SS: Hi Rimjim, tell our readers about your venture ‘Little Box’.

RD: Little Box is a fast fashion brand we started in June 2022 with factories in Delhi and our main head office is in Guwahati. With products for GenZ, college and office goers, we want to be a brand which is affordable, stylish and most importantly, also sustainable. Our USP is that we do one time retail so we manufacture the odd products parallelly once the order comes, so that’s lean production where wastage is very low and where we do not keep stock of any clothing.

SS: How do you think fashion has changed through the years?

RD: I see lots of changes in terms of adaptability and acceptability. People are more eager to try new things which were not there a decade ago. At that time, people were skeptical about online purchases and experimenting, but now that’s changing and it will eventually diversify more.

SS: So we have seen you in ‘Shark Tank’ can you tell us your learning experience from the show?

RD: Shark Tank is a great platform for entrepreneurs and for the startup fraternity in India. We had a great experience with the exposure on National Television. Shark Tank gives one great advertisement and publicity, and branding opportunity and we received our share of validation for the brand.

SS: Can you tell us more about the event?

RD: This is our first summer pop-up that we are doing and we chose Shillong as it is one of the fashion capitals, it’s a city where people are fashionable and wanted to resonate with the crowd here.

The event also has other local brands like a healthy soda drink, jewelry brand which also gives them a platform and network.

SS: ‘Little box’ is a brand from the North East, what is your vision in Shillong and the region?

RD: Our office in Guwahati, we manufacture in Delhi, have a store in Shillong and deliver pan-India. As a brand born out of the northeast, we want to be recognised at the national level for where we come from and want to be an inspiration for smaller brands from remote areas of the country.

SS: How did you feel when all the Sharks cracked a deal with you?

RD: Sharks offering a deal reinstates belief and confidence in oneself. The same sharks who have built big empires when they believe in your product and want to invest time, energy and money in you is a great feeling.

SS: We have seen many women as entrepreneurs on the rise. How do you feel to be among one of them in this industry?

RD: I am so glad that currently we live in an era where women are so powerful in terms of what they can do and are independent to make decisions. There are many atrocities and challenges that women still go through, but now is the time when there are stronger women and many in the startup world who will inspire others too.

SS: What has your journey been as a woman in the field? Is it harder for women to start their own ventures?

RD: I think as a woman, our worst enemy is our mind. Once we have control over our minds, it’s a major hurdle crossed. As women we have a lot of things going on in our minds, What if I fail? What if my family loses faith in me? Do I have to seek permission from my parents or family to pursue my dreams?

Also, people in general have a tendency to not take women seriously. This happens a lot, and so, women often have to work harder to prove themselves.

SS: Why do you think it is important for women to be entrepreneurs?

RD: When a woman is an entrepreneur then a lot of people who are tracking your journey get inspired because generally it happens that when a man is doing it we are used to seeing men in power, we see men as CEOs, as team leaders but the world has seen fewer women in top positions as leaders. So, it is important that women set examples for younger generations.

Secondly, from the economic point of view, more financially independent women help society become more resilient as well as present themselves as equals.

SS: Your venture is in partnership with your husband. How is it working with him?

RD: It’s been amazing for me to work with my husband because we both have a clear vision of work. We respect our work areas and we do not cross boundaries. If he is working with a particular department, I do not interfere and likewise with him. We trust each other. We discuss work and trust the decisions we both take. I really enjoy working with my husband.

SS: Who is your role model/idol? What qualities of him/her inspire you?

RD: I have many role models and to name one is difficult. There’s Sophia Amoruso, the owner of a very big fashion brand in the US so I have been learning about her story, how she faced life’s challenges, overcame them and went on to make a big billion dollar fashion company.

Another inspirational figure is Narayan Murthy because his philosophy of a sustainable business is encouraging.

SS: How do you think this event will impact your venture?

RD: This event is for branding, networking and to connect with our target audience because generally we sell online so we don’t get to engage in person. The communication that takes place helps us understand our clients and their needs.

End of interview

This event was filled with fashion and fun, experiencing home-grown brands, fashion walk, good fashion with fashion and lifestyle influencers from Meghalaya and lip smacking food were highlights of the event. Overall, the event made an attempt to capture the attention of fashion enthusiasts in the large landscape of the industry through quality and affordable products.

(Interviewed by Joziah Ryan K Lyngdoh)

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