Meet Yashaswi Surana of Alapino, a 22 year old fashion enthusiast changing the game of power dressing
From twirling around in that simple polka-dotted dress to slaying Lady-boss vibes in those posh high waisted pants, power dressing has always been a classy medium to express. The liberty to express your stands, the freedom to express your personal choice, nothing else can embrace you better than that plushy power-dress hugging your body! And that’s exactly where Alapino fits in, dolling you up in more empowered, confident, and a comfortable self. Established on March 8, 2019, by a 22-year-old fashion enthusiast, Alapino is a B2C Fashion e-Commerce which sells elevated essentials of everyday work-wears. The collections of Alapino are of limited edition which is designed and curated in Nepal, outsourced from a factory in India and are then imported. Here is what the founder, Yashaswi Surana has to share about her journey of connecting comfortable dressing with voguish touch:
- What motivated you to start your own business? Did you always want to be in the corporate world?
Being from a business family background, I have always fancied entrepreneurial and management journeys. The day-night hustles, bitter-sweet outcomes and most importantly, living up with your passion is what motivated me to have my own startup. When I initially invested Nrs. 1,00,000 from my personal savings and contribution from my family, I had a clear vision to work for self, and empower others through my work. Probably that’s the result of hard work, now we have a wonderful team of 5 and within a short span of time, we have already served over 800 happy customers!
- What’s your definition for ‘Power Dressing’? While few say, ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’, how do you think that power dressing boosts someone’s confidence?
Well, Power Dressing is an art of expressing yourself. The ability to make a statement and provoke conversations with your clothes- that’s power! There’s a phenomenon known as ‘enclothed cognition’ which states that your clothing significantly affects your physical and psychological state. For example, if you’re uncomfortable wearing a tight skirt, there is a high chance that the discomfort will lead to lower self-confidence and overly self-consciousness. Here, comfort along with the right piece of choice boosts your confidence via power-dressing. And regarding judging a book by its cover, we believe in feeling a book by its words. Same with dresses- believing in yourself with the style you choose.
- With so many online businesses selling clothes online currently, what sets you apart?
As a matter of fact, there are indeed hundred(s) of online clothing stores and what sets Alapino apart is our products that are totally exclusive in the Nepalese market. The set of designs under our own label – Alapino with fair-price is our USP. Similarly, we use 100% plastic-free and environment-friendly (recyclable) packaging. On the other hand, Alapino makes sure that from initial greetings to the post-sales interaction, all our conversations are well-framed keeping the customer in the centre. We prioritize our customers over anything and this has brought us where we are today.
- Since you cater premium and exclusive products, how hard is it to find the potential customers? How are you trying to reach the targeted customers?
Since our designs are mainly related to semi-formal essentials that are suitable for work-wears as well as functional to carry them from 9 am to 9 pm, identifying the target group of working professionals was difficult initially. However, gradually, after analyzing the existing customers and the orders we received, it became easier to identify the potential customers. Similarly, I’ve been using a digital channel approach via Facebook, Instagram and website to reach my targeted customers. Along with these, I have been partnering with events wherein the audience matches my target audience.
- Alapino recently completed its first year of operation. How tough is it for a year-old startup to cope up with such unprecedented time?
Uncertainties are something an entrepreneur should always be ready to encounter. But it will take time to address, realize and plan to combat such issues, be it for a year-old startup or multi-dollar company. The current crisis has led to minimal cash flow since people are putting their budget rather on daily essentials. Similarly, since our products are being outsourced, the lockdown has snapped the supply-chain.
However, on a positive note, we have utilised the lockdown to build customer engagement by communicating consistently. Recently our team came up with #TheAlapinoCheer – a seven-day cheer session where we shared various learning about different sectors- food recipes, DIY crafts and a talk session with a stylist to keep our audience engaged. We also introduced Exclusive Alapino Membership to attract new customers. Lately, we have resumed our deliveries where our products go under UV sterilization to ensure everyone’s safety.
- So what are your future plans now?
The business environment has drastically changed over the past few months, so have our plans. I am re-configuring and reinventing the existing designs as we are planning to introduce more sustainable collections in future. Considering the changing purchase behaviour, the upcoming collection will focus more on Slow-Fashion where limited evergreen designs shall be made as per the requirements. Similarly, we shall be open for the customization of tops and dresses soon, wherein you can get these items customized and made in your own fit and design. This focuses on minimalist principles along with sustainability wherein we invest in quality over quantity.
Once the situation gets better, we are also looking forward to starting a social campaign where certain % of each sale would go in uplifting the sanitation facilities and providing sanitation awareness to the underprivileged, i.e. one-for-one where the number of sales would benefit the same number of underprivileged students. This would be tied up with my non-profit organization- Sanitation, Health & Environment (S.H.E).
- Can you share some of the life lessons to our reader which you have learnt throughout this journey?
The current crisis has made me realize the importance of keeping your finances on track. So be intimately familiar with your finances. Similarly, be very clear about what you are offering as a business. In fact, you should be able to explain your products to an ordinary layman. And last but not the least, regardless of how good your product or service is; bad customer service can keep your entire brand on stake. Value your customer just the way you value your brand (or even more, cause your brand won’t exist without your customers).