Entrepreneurs : Aanchal Mehta Bubber & Sanjana Bubber
Business Name: Bubber Couture
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 69
Mumbai has always been a hub for fashion. The demand for customized services is seeing a rise across verticals and clothing needs of the current generation are more diverse than ever. If you are looking for the modern funky, urban styled multi-functional or tasteful ethnic wear tailor made to fit you just fine, here is where you need to head to. Bubber Couture is your go-to place for any occasion.
Run by two women, Aanchal and Sanjana, popularly known as the Bubber twins, this place has won the hearts of many which is reflected in their reviews on Facebook and elsewhere.
The duo is best known for the amount of detailing they put into every piece they create and the royal treatment every customer here receives. Each clothing in the Bubber Couture is a magnificent piece of art which perfectly blends with the personality of the one who adorns it.
Bubber Couture is a combination of all the right ingredients: professionalism, artists, on-time delivery. “Sanjana and Aanchal are amazing at their work. The amount of detailing and inputs they provide is commendable. Really happy with the way my wedding outfits have turned out. Thank you so much for the excellent service,” says an elated customer about his experience with Bubber Couture in Google review. Let’s find out more about the Bubber Twins as they stop by to tell their inspiring story.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
Having worked with a well known mens couturier in the past we saw a huge gap in the market for affordable, well finished and well constructed mens and womenswear.
We also noticed a huge demand for bespoke and customised services. It’s this gap that made us get into this sector and launch our own signature couture label.
Having been exposed to art, creativity and design at a very young age, we always had an affinity towards aesthetics, colours, and forms. We were both very keen on pursuing a future in art and chose garments as our palette to express our creativity.
After a rigorous 3-year Fashion Apparel and Design Course at SNDT University, and a 2-year apprenticeship under a renowned menswear designer we decided it was time for us to launch our own venture. Bubber Couture launched in 2011 as a couture bespoke label.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
Now, is the time where bespoke, multifunction and offbeat concepts are in vogue. Customers want to get more value from products with the addition of a personal touch of their own personality in pieces.
With the popularity of the internet and Instagram people are exposed to a lot more designs and concepts.
Customers are more in touch with current trends and want unique stylised curated looks which help them stand out from a crowd and which resonates with their own individual personality.
Being a brand that specialises in multifunctional and reversible pieces, our pieces are a value add to a customer’s wardrobe where not only do they save money, but get an additional curated look from our products as well.
Our meetings with clients are all on appointment. This gives us the opportunity to dive deep into detail with our clients, understand their requirements based on their visions, occasion and personality.
Designs are pitched keeping a clients personal style, creative visions, built, fit preferences and colour tone in mind.
Looks are also curated to complement the colours of the decor of an occasion or to complement a bride or group of people. We curate full looks for clients which extends to personal styling of the looks as well.
It’s this value added service of on-appointment personalisation and made to measure which makes us unique as a brand.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
Our family has always been supportive of our venture and has been a back bone in our nascent years. To go from a designer to an entrepreneur is a huge jump which can be challenge a person at every level.
Having started our business 7 years ago and having built our own loyal client base over the years, our family is proud to see how we have taken an idea of design and expanded it to the level it is today into a successful and ever-growing business.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
Since we are right brained more creative, our minds lean more towards design than business. Design has been a talent but running a business is something we have learned over the years through trial and error.
Business planning is something we always struggled with. Budgeting collections and setting targets of new stock was a problem in the initial years of our business.
In our kind of business it takes a couple of years to build loyal clientele and when you have our own unit, making excess stock in off season leads to a block of cash flow. Maintaining a running cash flow in off seasons has taken us years to figure out.
Today we plan our stock and budget our collections meticulously to prevent this problem. We also have an increasing client base so incoming orders not a problem. All businesses take a couple of years to regulate and settle.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
Our biggest obstacle in the next 12 months in managing our business while one of our partner has just delivered a baby.
As women with dual gender roles it’s hard to juggle work and family life. It is going to take heavy organisation and meticulous planning to make sure our business is growing without compromising on family matters.
We are also looking at doubling our work output with better advertising and public relations while keeping our production costs minimal.
With word of mouth being our main client source, we are looking for new avenues to spread, and expand the brand and also create better in-house systems to make our bespoke processes smooth and seamless.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
Hard work is the only key to success. It’s daily perseverance and micro managing all aspects of a business with close attention to detail which is key in what we do. It’s important as an entrepreneur to be hands on with managerial as well as design elements.
The both of us are very disciplined as marathon runners. Training for a marathon has changed our thinking, concepts of life and work ethic.
We apply the same philosophy that goes behind training to everything we do in life including our work. Most of us let our failures define us, but instead we make them refine us.
Training for a marathon teaches you how consistent and constant effort with will power has no boundaries. Anything is possible and within your reach if you work hard enough consistently.
It’s also important to study competition to see where you stand and lack. Also adopting practicality and realism to all business decisions is very important.
It’s our ability to gauge practical and stylish designs within an affordable price bracket with the added touch of personalisation along with constant hard work and perseverance which is what contributes to our success as a design label.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
If we started this business again, we would start it with a more planned approach from the point of view of budgeting collections with more structure to begin with. At the teething stages, basic working systems stagnated our growth and ate too much into time.
I also would listen to our own instinct regarding collections and work decisions. Initially when you start a business suppliers, stores and exhibitions pull and draw you in sucking cash flow but not always deeming great results.
I would have preferred to observe the market keep costs low and focus on our business spreading organically. Clients always give the best advice.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Our favourite inspirational quote is “Work hard in silence. Let success make the noise.”. It’s simple, to the point and extremely relevant.
9) Where do you find inspiration?
Our main inspiration for our design comes from within us. Being identical twins our design process and ideation creation is very interesting.
We both are strikingly different yet similar. Our designs are a combination of our combined ideas which is what gives our products a very unique look.
Even though we came into the world as a mirror image, we have two extremely different and opposing personalities. We have tried to incorporate the twin or dual concepts into our clothing reflecting multifunctional and reversible elements. This unifies our contrasting ideas in a cohesive uniform whole.
Fashion design may seem simple on the surface but actually involves a lot of thought, research, experimentation and technical application. The play of colours in our collections, the use of unique textiles and embellishments is what makes our collections extremely unique.
Every collection involves thorough research for off beat themes which not only inspire us and our design process but also interests our customers.
We like to tell a story with our garments using art, history, mythology, philosophy, psychology, architecture and travel as inspirations for our themes.
We love being inspired from different eras from the past or we try to revive lost civilisations through our designs, giving a modern twist to history.
Every season we choose a unique concept or theme for our collections. We have to really skilfully address our own design ideas into our clothing, keeping in mind the numerous tastes of our loyal clientele.
Fashion forecasting, trend research is done extensively by our team, along with intense design developments and multiple brainstorming sessions. Post this process, the final execution takes place and a new collection is born.
10) What is your favourite book?
‘The Woman I Wanted To Be’ By Diane Von Furstenberg is one of our favourite fashion biographies. The story of Diane’s life, struggle in fashion and focus on women’s empowerment is truly inspiring.
With switching gender roles in today’s world, the book is the one that reassures and pushes women to strive for independence and power in a competitive fashion industry. The book all in all promotes an inspirational and beautiful positive message.
“When I have an obstacle in front of me,” von Furstenberg writes, “I find a different path to a solution, which so satisfies me that I forget what the problem was in the first place.” It’s the simplicity with which she writes this strong-willed personal book that has left an ever-lasting impact on us.
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Our advice to a person starting their own couture business would be to study, learn, explore and work within the area of design you are interested in before diving into your own venture.
It’s important to understand the market and clientele you would like to cater to prior. It’s vital to be completely original and understand who you are a designer and the message you are trying to portray through your work. A strong and unique design sense would make you stand out and give your brand a unique voice.
Being original is something we are going to stress upon. We have seen a lot of new designers visit out store and copy concepts and patterns which we have come up with.
It’s important to create something unique so you have a unique selling point. A strong designer wouldn’t need to refer to need to copy or look to a competitor unless they lacked ideas.
Do trend and competitor research so that you know how to be different from your competitors yet understand competitor strategies in terms of branding, advertising and building a brand to use to your advantage.
Also explore new avenues for growing your business. Most people who use the same avenues for marketing land up congesting a certain market area where you get lost amongst the crowd. Find different ways to drive consumers to your products be it design, advertising or varied marketing strategies.
Also, slow and steady does win the race. I think it’s important to do a trial of a business for the first 2 years to observe and understand who your clientele and market are, and then go head fast into expanding and exploring new avenues to cater to their needs rather than over investing in something which may not fruit results.
Always, test and try new concepts as dummy concepts, see a response then invest in a larger collection for the same.
Making a mark in the fashion industry, especially in the city of Mumbai is not child’s play. Yet, the Bubber twins have succeeded to conquer it. Seven years into business they are already the talk of the town and one of the most recommended designers in Mumbai.
They have picked up the many things that they went through while growing up, such as training for marathon, creativity and its likes and dropped it into their work ethic, creating a fine balance of the right elements to achieve success in their business.
There are few designers of this level of expertise who consider affordability as a factor for their product, the Bubber twins would fall into the category of these few. They show us how to believe in a dream and how to fulfill it step by step. A true inspiration for upcoming designers, Sanjana and Aanchal have certainly created a mark for themselves.
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