You know you have a great business idea when you have a concept that works, and more importantly, when it solves a problem that’s there or you have encountered personally. This is true in the case of New Delhi-based entrepreneur Sheena Agarwaal, who is the founder of multi-designer store ‘Agashe’.
It all began when Agarwaal was prepping for the biggest event of her life her wedding. At that time, she discovered, somewhat surprisingly, that there were no bridal ensembles to suit her palette as a young bride in New Delhi, the fashion capital of the nation. Agarwaal says, “When I was shopping for my trousseau, I failed to find styles which were to my liking in New Delhi. So I found myself shopping a whole lot more in Mumbai and Kolkata.” This obvious gap in New Delhi’s fashion universe prompted her to consider creating a space which would stock apparel from not only established names but also upcoming designers with stellar design sensibilities. And that is how Agarwaal’s brainchild, Agashe was born in March 2016, the name ‘Agashe’ being a mix of the first three letters of her surname and name
Experience is the key to success
After completing her graduation in HR from Christ College, Bengaluru,
Agarwaal studied at Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad (MICA). She then went on to become a ‘Reach Personal Brand’ strategist and the director of Urbanista Image Consulting, which she founded in 2010 to provide customised makeover solutions to clients, both at the individual and corporate levels. But Agarwaal, eager to make designer wear more accessible to young and fashionable women in New Delhi, soon branched out into the fashion space with Agashe. Speaking about how her prior professional background helped her towards this goal, she says, “Urbanista gave me a deep insight into the women residing in India and their body image issues. I took in all of this and implemented it when setting up Agashe.”
One-stop fashion destination
New Delhi is home to some of the best dressed millennial women in the country, who love to strut their stuff with a sense of style and aplomb. Agashe primarily stocks ready-to-wear collections, utilising sensuous silhouettes and cuts with a contemporary approach, to cater to the style sensibilities of these women. The collections are designed keeping in mind customers who appreciate finely-cut garments that are both luxurious and unique and also love to experiment. Agarwaal adds, “She could be a homemaker or a working woman, but, regardless, she has a strong style sense and is not afraid of standing out.”
From design to your wardrobe
Agarwaal’s main criteria for choosing designers for Agashe are good design sensibilities and quality products. She and her team first work on understanding what their clients like through personalised one-on-one consultations, and then they select designers, whose creations are to be displayed at the store. Conveniently located on MG Road, between New Delhi and Gurugram, Agashe is the ultimate destination for all things fashionable, from ensembles to accessories, under one roof. Little wonder then that this multi-designer store is proving to be every fashionable woman’s dream store. It is the perfect spot for all avid shoppers in New Delhi to explore new designs and browse through their favourite designers’ latest offerings.
For Agashe, Agarwaal has in effect cherry-picked designers for their individual uniqueness. Among them are Jayanti Reddy for her exclusive bridal wear; Huemn for sports luxe and a side of streetwear; Verb by Pallavi Singhee for free-spirited and avant-garde clothing; Samant Chauhan for Indian textiles and embroideries; Masaba Gupta for quirky prints and electric colours; and Nachiket Barve for intricate detailing on fabrics and designs inspired by nature, science, travels and functionality. Also in stock are creations from upcoming and young designers such as Divyam Mehta and Urvashi Joneja. Therefore, no matter what their age, size or fashion palate, at Agashe, customers are sure to find something to suit their whims and fancies. Asked about Marwaris and their take on fashion, Agarwaal feels Marwaris love both designer wear and experimental fashion. “Be it established names or upcoming labels, Marwaris know it all, and are happy to invest in fashion. In fact, I think that they have always adopted good fashion; they know the value of a designer outfit,” she says. At Agashe, around 75 per cent of the clients are Marwaris, in fact.
The distinguishing factor
Agashe offers everything from Western wear to prêt and occasional wear. Their latest addition is a personalised space dedicated to trousseau and wedding wear, as well as customised bridal solutions. Agarwaal says, “We are known for our Indo-Western range that everyone wants today.” And as for their USP, it is their unique curation of never-seen-before styles. “We also understand the value of money—one does not necessarily have to break the bank to buy a unique designer outfit from us,” she adds.
Trend report 2018
With the festive and wedding seasons around the corner, there are several trends from designers that are beginning to surface, leaving us exasperated and more confused than ever. However, Agarwaal is quick to come to the rescue with her sage advice. Speaking about the trends for this wedding season, Agarwaal says, “Fringe [the decorative trim on clothing] is going to be big this season and so will sorbet hues. Saris are going to be back in a big way—opt for the draped or non-draped versions.” She also predicts that capes, which stood out as the favourite of celebrities last year, is all set to rule again this season. “I urge people to explore new styles and adopt fresh colours for the upcoming wedding season,” adds Agarwaal.
A businesswoman at heart
Agarwaal’s dream and desire to bring timeless garments created by designers from different parts of India to Delhiites finds resonance in Agashe. The fact that she has made her dream project a reality, speaks of her determination and hard work, not to mention her strong business sense. But Agarwaal attributes her sense of entrepreneurship to her Marwari heritage. She is of the firm belief that Marwaris are extremely enterprising in nature and that in itself has helped her a whole lot. She also feels that it is the attitude with which Marwaris do what they do that makes all the difference.
The way ahead
Speaking about her plans for the future, Agarwaal shares, “We definitely want to expand to other cities, which is why we are currently evaluating partners who have shown interest in launching in places beyond New Delhi.” Considering the waves that Agashe has been making in New Delhi’s fashion scene ever since its inception, why not also sell online! Here too, Agashe has a presence. “We retail a whole lot through WhatsApp and Instagram. For now, this works just fine for us. But who knows what the years ahead might have in store for us— maybe a website? Only time will tell,” Agarwaal signs off.