Entrepreneur: Abbas Addhara
Business Name: English Colours
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 90
Meet Abbas. A young dashing fashionista, a joy to look at, a pleasure to be with. But there’s more to this man than meets the eye. The dapper is also an entrepreneur and founder of the brand ENGLISH COLOURS, which is a fast fashion brand that is catching pace among young Indians. Their social media profiles are overloaded with images of celebrities and young people adorning their signature t-shirts, clearly reflecting how the trend is spreading like wildfire.
They are not only available offline but also online, making it possible for customers to access them anywhere anytime. The brand created by Abbas celebrates colours, class and craftsmanship. The designs are updated every month and are loved for their fit and feel. The founder himself looks nothing less of a model and has always been fascinated with the idea of style and fashion.
ENGLISH COLOURS was not born just out of a passion to create a brand but also as a result of a thorough research into the needs and demands of the Indian retail apparel market for over 3 years. The entire business was carefully planned and executed, which reflects in the pace of their growth and the standing they have in the market today. The brand has tapped on the potential of social media and the power of influencers in its journey to success. Abbas is an example for how blending your passion with your profession can make work look like play.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
I have always had interest in the fashion business. From keeping my personal style intact to following almost all fashion brands, this industry have always kept me engaged.
We entered Clothing Business as manufacturers. Started small, at one point we were manufacturing export orders of PEPE Jeans, John Holdon etc. The Private label idea was always there. And the one fine day, Five years of Clothing manufacturing & exports experience, Nine Colours and Calligraphy gave birth to ENGLISH COLOURS.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
The Indian fashion retail segment was at about USD 52 billion in 2017, and is poised to cross USD 100 billion by end of 2023. Favourable demographics and rising income levels are believed to be the key growth drivers of the Indian textile and apparel sector in the coming years. Internet has shifted people’s interest from age old fashion brands to the new ones.
ENGLISH COLOURS is all set to explore the opportunities. We have a strong wholesale network (outlets at Bangalore, Cochin and Calicut) and we are starting the retail business as well. Customer inclusion is very important to us. And it’s easy these days with social media. Our Instagram page is a testimony for the brand’s reach and connection with customers. Opportunity in the e-commerce space is humungous.
We are tapping our bit through our website: www.englishcolours.com. We use targeted ads on social media to drive traffic to the website. The operations are literally shrinking to a mobile phone. In our case, our website is on the Shopify platform. And we do most of our marketing through Instagram. So it’s just two apps and few taps. Now is the time. The good time.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
I am a BTech and an MBA. Business was a natural progression after MBA, for me. But I am sure it was a difficult choice for my brother Mr. HAKEEM (who started the garment manufacturing business) , six years ago. But it was probably the best choice. The entire family is quite supportive.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
Luckily enough, we haven’t made big mistakes. But, we keep trying new things. And we make mistakes. Feedback is one thing we take seriously to avoid making similar mistakes again. We manufacture and sell ourselves. This way, we can make sure the process is faster and the feedback system is intact.
And another thing is that Mr. IQBAL, (Director, Sales at ENGLISH COLOURS) is a master at selling. Even if we make Bohemian prints in the winter season, he can sell it.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
ENGLISH COLOURS is based in Bangalore. And most of our activities have centred in South India until now. We got great response at the 66th & 67th CMAI (Clothing Manufacturers Association of India) exhibitions in Mumbai. We are working with distributors across north India to make sure the nationwide brand presence. And we are starting our retail network of exclusive outlets.
Our Flagship retail store is getting opened in SOBHA CITY MALL, Thrissur in December 2018. And we are in talks with major Malls in Bangalore as well. Five stores are planned and will be opened by end of this fiscal. And for the online business, we are getting more people on board to manage e-commerce market places.
Our major advertising is through social media now. Going forward, there has to be more aggressive rounds of ads on and offline. Getting bigger is challenging on all levels. And we are totally prepared.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
Observation is the key. I try to keep myself updated about business across the globe. That brings me to reading books, magazines & articles. I keep educating myself about the industry. The news of collaboration of Louis Vuitton & Supreme as well as the news of a fashion start-up attracts my attention equally. I think being updated is very important for an entrepreneur. And in the fashion business, it’s very crucial.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I am pretty much happy with how things are going. Our signature logo t-shirts has helped us spread the word a lot. We are trending on all social media platforms. May be we should have started little earlier. That’s it.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.
9) Where do you find inspiration?
Stories. I read loads of brand stories and articles. I update myself through them and almost all of them inspire me in one or the other way.
10) What is your favourite book?
Alchemist is not my favourite book. Though I read Chetan Baghat, he is not my favourite writer either. There’s this one book called – ‘YOUR MARKETING SUCKS’ by Mark Stevens. It talks about the importance of ROI based marketing. That’s my favourite. “Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson”’ is my favourite biography.
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Be original and give time. Perseverance is the key.
Entrepreneurs are a breed of their own. Their willingness to learn and grow at any point of life keeps them motivated to charge ahead. These dreamers keep raising the bars they set for themselves and keep leaping over them.
Abbas and his brand ENGLISH COLOURS is an inspiration to every young aspiring fashion entrepreneur to take the leap of faith, of course backed with sufficient groundwork. After all, hard work channelled in the right direction is what brings success into any business. Our best wishes to English Colours, may you go global!