It’s original, it’s vibrant, and it’s fresh. Suta is a contemporary brand that has taken the apparel eCommerce industry in India by storm.
There are a few prerequisites when it comes to growing a brand, of which, Suta seems to have nailed the basics in a way that resonates with their ethos. Their website describes them as combining ‘India's centuries-old weaving traditions with contemporary style- so that what looks good, feels good too’. And I’m sure it does; the results are visible in their swelling numbers.
It’s not just numbers that have driven this contemporary brand, but social impact as its core mission. Suta’s model revolves around sourcing hand-woven sarees and fabrics from villages across different corners of India employing over 15,000 weavers, mostly women. Add to that, the company’s policy to ensure weavers’ timely payments, makes them top bosses.
The bosses, the sister duo of Sujata and Taniya, had an important decision to make when they had first started out. Having left their corporate jobs to make traditional Indian wear more accessible to the youth, they were faced with the roadblock of ‘how to sell’.
They decided to explore the power of social media, not investing a dime on marketing in the first couple of years. They used Facebook for initial sales to gather capital when they didn’t even have a website at that stage in 2016. Word of mouth was their friend with their brand value on the rise; their reach upped gradually via WhatsApp and Facebook. It was their elegance and simplicity that stood out on social media as a younger audience bought into the concept of handlooms and ethnics.
Their strategy was simple – going straight for mass appeal, the founders had no qualms showing off their imperfections in a myriad of their saree and blouse collections, as opposed to hiring models. It echoed their core belief of keeping it real to help build a community of consumers who could relate to them and their stories.
There was no investment in backdrops or artificial lighting either; natural backgrounds were employed, they played with colours and contrasts, and the end result was a mesmerising sight.
The trump card, however, was displaying customers’ photos draped in their products, weaving beautiful stories around them, and driving the ‘trust’ aspect home even further. The idea was replicating everyday life, egging customers on to wear sarees casually, without an occasion too. They didn’t aim for perfection, the opposite if at all, promoting acceptance of oneself instead.
The community of the #sutaqueens grew from strength to strength as their following saw a 26-fold ascent in the span of 2.5 months at one point through just Facebook and Instagram. They gradually began investing in ads on the two platforms and Google, but a substantial chunk on SEO for organic traffic growth, which was important to them – to have returning customers. They even have a podcast to expand the ambit of their reach.
Another strategy that helped in their endeavour for organic growth was their modest pricing to cater to a younger audience. Their target was never extensive margins, but building a brand to increase the sheer quantity of products sold and the million lives they touch. Remember the lovely attire Pooja Bhatt was spotted wearing in Bombay Begums on Netflix? Such is the extent of their reach, even as their top-line has crossed the 5 cr. mark.
They talk about entrepreneurship, they discuss sustainability, they let people into their personal lives; it’s not just marketing that their social media accounts are channelled towards. It’s all about the brand and the community to ensure a wholesome customer experience. Right from their first collection of extremely light and breathable Mul Cotton sarees, to customized blouses, to their latest collection of Dhoti sarees, they have something for everyone.
In five years, they’ve broken stereotypes and have been an embodiment of a company born on the internet. They chose the lesser road taken, keeping investors at bay to sustain their baby using a model that has been tried and tested, only for customer satisfaction. And what’s better is that it is working.
For the power pair of Suta, as much as it is about their brand, it’s about inclusivity, and creating a community that resonates with their values. Today, their loyal customer base has transcended the realms of gender, orientation, age, and colour as they continue to inspire with grace and ingenuity.