These sisters launched their own athleisure line during the pandemic
While the pandemic has confined us all inside our homes, it has also downgraded us to our most comfortable clothes ever. Over the past two years, loungewear and sportswear have taken over the wardrobe like never before and their sales have reached an all-time high.
An AI-driven size advisor, Analysis of the fashion genome of True Fit Data more than 17,000 brands and 180 million users and found athleisure orders have jumped 84% since the start of the pandemic in the UK alone.
Bengaluru-based sister duo Ria (22) and Shreya Mittal (19) measured this increase in demand at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown when they were back home and taking online classes and decided to launch an online athletics brand IT’S OKAY in 2020.
“We are two fashion-loving sisters who lived typical student lives until lockdown. I’ve always been more into fashion and trends. My sister Shreya is the brains behind the business. The idea to launch our own activewear line actually came about during the pandemic when we were both studying for online classes and wanted something comfortable and casual, something that could also be worn in any opportunity. We kept noticing the lack of fashionable clothes in India, especially in the athleisure market. We ordered from a few brands online but couldn’t find anything that matched what we were looking for. It was our eureka moment and so we decided to enter this market and launch CAVA”, Ria tells His history.
While Ria studied fashion management at the University of the Arts, London, Shreya is in her first year of undergraduate studies at the University of Warwick, UK.
Since sportswear is the new trend taking over the fashion industry, it has also resonated with Ria and Shreya. After traveling abroad, they were able to find good quality sports internationally, but found a gap in the Indian fashion industry.
“We also noticed that our friends and many other millennials who were experimenting with street sports and leisure wear couldn’t find good labels to shop with. We really felt it was the right time to step into this space,” Ria shares.
Ria Mittal and Shreya Mittal
CAVA is fully primed as Ria launched the brand with a capital of Rs 40 lakh which included her and her family’s savings. They can earn up to Rs 15 lakh per month with some of their collections.
Having her family in the garment industry for over two decades has been a boon to the sisters and they are trained in the business from an early age.
“As we come from a family that has been in the garment industry, almost all of our dinner conversations revolve around work and the garment industry. Both of our parents are deep into the business and we’ve had our fair share of factory visits as a teenager. This is when our real training in the craft began. We have a foot in the door with the best fabric and trim suppliers thanks to our goodwill in the industry. and all of our suppliers are known and trustworthy, and our production plant and machinery are world-class due to the superior technology used,” says Ria.
Over the past two years, several new athleisure brands have entered the market such as No Gray Area, Zymrat, etc. and several big brands like Van Heusen and Allen Solly are also making inroads into the sportswear market.
Even health and fitness platform Cult.Fit now has a full range of sportswear and athleisure offerings.
However, the duo is not afraid of competition in the fashion industry.
Ria is of the opinion that the competition does not discourage them. “It just means we have to be good enough to thrive and grow. We are very confident in our quality and our designs, so competition is welcome.”
Challenges and way forward
Although the sisters had an advantage in starting their brand, they also faced challenges because they are so young in the business. Ria recalls being in her early twenties, the biggest challenge was getting people to take them seriously and not think they were doing this as a hobby or summer school project. .
“We have learned that consistency and hard work pays off no matter what, and the road ahead may have been difficult, but it just keeps getting better. The management of the business, our studying and our classes can be difficult at times, but we have gotten better at time management and planning,” she shares.
Launching their brand in the midst of a global pandemic also didn’t come without its own challenges. While the sisters had plenty of extra time to do their research and build a roadmap for their startup, they realized that finding labor was a huge task as people struggled to get their jobs started.
Ria and Shreya in CAVA Athleisure
“Export orders were at a standstill and getting SOPs in place and following them was a challenge. Since we are a start-up, finding the right suppliers and partners who would align with our brand personality, and at the same time be willing to partner with smaller quantities, without compromising on quality, was a huge challenge.
It claims that its sportswear is made from premium, durable fabrics and that it operates from state-of-the-art production facilities.
“We are slow fashion and our clothes only get better with each use. We also have great designs and are constantly innovating. We are able to identify with millennial customers and offer them what they As millennial entrepreneurs, we are committed to sustainability first and foremost,” adds Ria.
All of their products including joggers, shorts, tops and hoodies are priced between Rs 800 and Rs 2,500.
Ria wants to make CAVA a global brand and this year they plan to “step up and go all out”. The sisters are also planning investments in celebrity stakes to further their brand. She adds that while the online store fits the bill for her startup, experience centers and pop-ups are how they want to reach customers directly.
Finally, Ria’s advice to young women aspiring to become entrepreneurs is not to be afraid. “It’s the age of the Lady Boss.”