Entrepreneurs: Payal Batra & Aman Kaushal
Business Name: Lionise
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 79
We all love to use the finest attire on our special days- be it birthday parties or wedding events. But most of us are not ready to break the bank to buy an expensive party wear for a day’s use!
Payal and Aman, two entrepreneurs from Delhi, unlocked an opportunity there. They founded Lionise , a fashion rental service for women that gives access to a wide range of authentic, designer wear at a fraction of the retail price.
So, whenever you want to look better you can go to Lionise and rent out your favorite attire anytime . With a vision to transform India’s wardrobe experience by making renting a part of everyday lifestyle, these two vibrant entrepreneurs have bigger plans for their brainchild.
“We’re not disrupting an existing market, we’re creating a new one,” they say. How did they find potential for this business? What challenges did they face? Let’s find out as Payal and Aman share their story!
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
I was out shopping for my first cousin’s wedding with the bride and groom. Now keep in mind they are from another country and their upbringing is very practical and aspiring. We surveyed through a lot of designer showrooms and it took alot of time since it was a big investment and they were only going to wear it once in their lives.
During this time, I saw a lot of things like duplicated work, inflated prices, customizations keeping us in the loop by these big multi-designer stores.
I saw an opportunity here and I took it, I asked my soon to be sister in law if she would rent her wedding dress from a well-established fashion label. She immediately said “yes, do you have that facility in India?”
Well, that’s when I came to Payal with this idea and together we went to the drawing board and worked on a business model, pitched it to every person we knew in this industry, and Lionise was born.
Second agenda was a name. Lionise is a verb which means to treat someone like a celebrity. We saw it befitting to what we want to do and here we are!
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
India is set to become the youngest country in the world by 2020. We believe it’s the perfect time to cater to the young and independent women whose buying and spending behaviour is changing in the fashion space.
The concept of a shared economy is on the rise with the new technology and innovations. People are already sharing their cabs, hotels, homes and even their furniture. The concept of ownership is fading away making it the perfect time for the future of fashion to take hold.
With the ever increasing impact of social media women don’t want to repeat clothes anymore. They want to wear the latest designer wear, always be on the move and save time and money. Lionise just solves all their problem!
Fashion should not be the cause of environmental damage. Retail is the 2nd biggest polluter in the world (after oil) and it is time we change the way we get dressed, one rental at a time
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
Both our families have been very supportive, right from the ideation phase. We have been extremely lucky to have parents who not only support us but also encourage us to pursue our passion.
4) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle will probably be educating our consumers on the idea of renting fashion. This concept is pretty new in India, and getting the indian market used to renting fashion will be a major task that we are all set to face.
The Indian audience is well versed with renting when it comes to other industries like furniture, vehicles, industrial equipment and houses. We are pushing towards a shared economy, the spending behaviour of Indian consumers is not only aspirational but sustainable and logical.
They are all looking for “a bang for their buck.” Instead of stocking up they are buying what they absolutely need.
We have moved into this segment early and we believe Lionise can be a major part of this fashion revolution in India.
5) What habits contribute to your success?
Well, this is where we’re old school. We believe in putting a shift for any cause that’s close to us. Discipline, Straight line selling methods and managing expectations is what makes us successful.
6) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
It’s Polarizing, but no we wouldn’t do anything differently. There are so many lessons we have learnt because of our own setbacks that has made us into this well-oiled machine that we are, those lessons and mistakes were more important than the things we did right to contribute to our success.
7) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort
8) Where do you find inspiration?
It’s all around us to be honest, we get inspired on a daily basis. For example, the designers we work with, the effort and resources that goes behind making an outfit is immense.
These are 100% handmade articles and looking at the work going on behind the scenes we want to do them justice and provide a lucrative sales channel because they work so hard on this.
We are in an industry which is plagued by duplicate/machine made clothes by vendors who are shaming these handmade articles by literally getting 25-28% of the market share by copying ideas that Indian designers work so hard to find. If that doesn’t inspire one to do the right thing, what does?
10) What is your favourite book?
Elon Musk Biography by Ashlee Vance
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
From an entrepreneurial standpoint, my advice to every person starting out with an idea would be to be focused, sharp and believe in your idea. Half of the marketplaces and business have disrupted to a level where it’s difficult to penetrate, but it’s not impossible to find your place and build on it in this start-up ecosystem.
I would encourage everyone to read a lot of books and keep refining the idea till it’s lean and simple to market and operate.
As the concept of ownership is fading away in every sector, from cabs to rooms, Payal and Aman are popularising rental fashion in India. They made the best clothing accessible to people from every walks of life for a reasonable price. But there are also scores of challenges. The first thing they have to do to scale up the business, as Payal points out, is to educate people on the idea of renting fashion.
They, as entrepreneurs, thought from the perspective of a customer and tried to meet their demands in a smart way. So the key to success in business lies in studying the needs of a customer and serving them in a seamless way. The best way to scale up business, according to them,is to keep your focus intact. Because that’s how you could understand every minute detail of your startup.
Thank you, Payal and Aman, for sharing your inspiring startup story. You can find Lioniose on Instagram here.