A recent collection from Beatitude, a Pune-based saree startup, is titled Gaea – The Mother Earth, after the Greek goddess from whom all life emerges. The range has 15 designs inspired by elements of nature and seeks to greet the wearer as the embodiment of a primordial ancestral force. The brand has been carefully chosen. It is intended to strike a chord in a global market where a foreign buyer may not be familiar with Indian ethnic clothing but is aware of Greek mythology.
The saree market in India was Rs 38,000 crore in 2017, or 33% of all women’s clothing, according to the Indian Apparel Market Outlook (published by Fibre2Fashion) and Fibre2Fashion analysis. Beatitude, which has been retailing handcrafted sarees since 2015, however, caters to the global audience, which is not just Indians living abroad, but foreigners who admire Indian art and culture.
Founded by the couple Akanksha Kanwal Shukla and Pushkar Shukla, engineers and MBA, Beatitude is very present in the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Their other potential clients are Indian women who rarely wear sarees today, and their clients are now based in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Chennai, among others. Global expansion is their main focus and Pushkar reports that Indian retailers have contacted them.
“After living outside of India for over eight years, when we returned to India and wanted to work in our own business, we decided to promote Indian culture and take it to world heights. We chose to serve our country, so we chose handcrafted sarees, ”Pushkar explains. “We have designers and stylists working to create new designs that align with global trends and appeal to international aesthetics. We have worked on making sarees suitable for different weather conditions and ensuring that the fabric is breathable. One challenge we face is to make sarees more user-friendly so that draping a saree becomes easier for non-wearers, ”he adds.
Beatitude started with a self-investment of Rs 27 lakh and has generated an income of Rs 25 crore since the start of this fiscal year. “Covid-19 hit us hard at first because people didn’t leave their homes and there were no festivals or events. There was a 25 to 27 percent drop in income. When we got past the first wave, e-commerce sales started to increase and losses were covered. Sales have continued to improve and we are ending this year on a positive note, ”Pushkar says.
Beatitude’s focus on e-commerce from the start meant they were in a unique position when the pandemic hit and outlets were closed. “Even in 2015, we were seeing signs that the social trend was shifting towards online shopping. During the lockdown, buyers would come to the website and buy, but our email partners were not working. We did the best we could before things got better, ”he says.
Upcoming are designs that will inspire young Indian women, who have lost interest in sarees, to adopt the garment more often, as well as promote sarees abroad. “We don’t just promote sarees as ethnic clothing, but as stylish clothing. Shawls, for example, are popular around the world. At Beatitude, we create styles and designs that people can look at in sarees and adopt as a dress code for functions, events and even everyday, ”he says.