An afternoon chat with 26 year old Ayush Agarwal is a story that isn’t rare yet interesting. While we read most interviews of veterans in the industry, sometimes it is nice to read about one of us making it big. Who knows this conversation may inspire you to give your online selling a business perspective too!
IOS: How did you come about with the name- We the Chic?
WetheChic is a name we coined to denote the fashionista in us, not only in the feminine world but even for the metrosexual man today. The word ‘Chic’ means stylish or smart in French and that is what our products stand for.
IOS: So tell me when and how did it all begin?
I always say that I got into ecommerce by accident. In the later months of 2012, when I was doing well enough by God’s grace, and also looking out to invest in businesses, I was approached by an acquaintance to start a Bollywood/Hollywood Gossip portal that was to ultimately become a digital agency for production houses. We jumped in and we achieved a lot of traction on the site with more than 6 lakh visitors in the first few months! We also, partnered with known names like IMDB and Google News.
Our Organic traffic kept growing, however, things dint go as planned & the founder decided to pursue different plans and since I was not an expert in that domain I dint want to continue the portal. But the traffic was so good that it got me thinking and eventually we turned it into WetheChic.
IOS: From a gossip portal to e-commerce! How did that happen?
The Gossip portal was doing well and a corporate gifting company approached us and proposed the idea of giving out merchandise like t-shirts to our readers as gifts & prizes for contests. Also, with the limited Google AdSense that we had plugged in; I noticed that most of the ads on our site were those in the fashion/apparel category.
When I thought through it I felt that when outsiders are trusting our website to advertise their products, and probably earning revenue through it, they may have a strong business logic supporting it. So I decided to give it a shot myself and got into online selling!
IOS: What were you doing before you became an online seller?
We have a family business that is into Home Automation and I am into the same. While I have begun to dedicate my time and effort almost if not entirely into WetheChic I continue to wear two hats.
IOS: What do you sell on WetheChic.in? Which products did you start selling initially?
We started only with about 9 designs of t-shirts. A friend from NIFT helped us design the first few ones with ideas thrown in by my Mom, my friends and myself. When the designs clicked we got into serious business and designed more commercial merchandise. We knew that we needed to be different as well as make a difference be it small or big. Our products are 100% organic and we make sure that we curb child labor and urge our suppliers also to do the same.
IOS: What were your first few hiccups?
Hiccups were many. The first 3-4 days we had no traction at all and it actually got me wondering if it was a right move. But we had nothing to lose so stayed on. After the fourth day we had our 1st customer buy one t-shirt and that was a very happy moment. We did not have any payment system integrated either as we were just testing the market.
Apart from that, the Logistics and Courier was a tough obstacle. And I guess this is something that many others face too. The prices quoted were so high (1 COD package lesser than500 gms was quoted at Rs.350) that it would be detrimental to our business. Nowadays, the Courier companies have become very picky and are filtering customers rather than finding more.
I wasn’t a textile guy and did not know the domain well, so understanding fabrics was yet another issue. Fortunately with someone in the family, being in export business in textiles, we got to learn in-depth about fabrics, bulk purchases and negotiation with suppliers.
Over all the first few days was a hastle and we made almost no money and kept pumping in cash to see how to make it a business worth running.
IOS: So looks like you got through the phase strong. When did it actually become a real business for you?
I kept implementing all that I was learning on the job. We put up better pictures, more descriptions and had a lot of word of mouth around our products. While by the 1st weekend of the launch of the site we had 8-9 orders a day; by the end of the 1st month we were selling about 30-40 t-shirts a day!
This is the easiest money I have made in my life. I was just sitting here in one room and money was flowing in! Coming from a B2B environment I have always known to chase people for a sale and keep following up. One the other hand the retail industry was a pleasant surprise where people came to us.
All the money we made was our own ‘real’ money as we were spending nothing on marketing and all our traffic was organic. We have now crossed 2lakh per month as revenue and definitely think it’s a business worth running.
IOS: That’s nice. So, it was just you all this while. What about hiring some helping hands?
Being a BTech Graduate in Computer Science I am able to manage the coding myself so it isn’t much of trouble. And today’s technology is easy so all I need to do is the customization on already available platforms.
When you talk about hiring, I come from a business family and believe in traditional business models and values, so I delegate work to people who were already there as part of my other business. I guess I was lucky in this way. I did not hire anyone specifically for this. But now I have 5 people including myself dedicated to Wethe Chic as we grow.
IOS: Do you operate through marketplaces also or only sell on your website?
I always keep an eye on my competition. I saw them reaching out to online and offline platforms. While offline is something we will do once we have a bigger portfolio and designs; online marketplaces and channels is something that I have already got into. We are already selling on Amazon and Shop clues and we are in the process of signing up with Flipkart and Snapdeal too.
IOS: As a newbie in online selling was it a problem to get onto these places? What was your experience?
Amazon and Shop Clues contacted us on their own. The process was easy and simple. Even though the jargons that these marketplaces use are different and each of them has a set of guidelines and a procedure; everything is self-explanatory and available online; there is no need to even call any one. It took just about 3 days to onboard with Shop Clues and one con- call was enough for them to take us through everything.
With Amazon, we found it them very professional, they came down to the office, offered to do free photo-shoot; however since we were already adhering to their imagery guidelines we could get onboard quickly. We liked the experience and have now reached out to Flipkart and Snapdeal and you will soon see our products there too.
IOS: That’s great! Let’s talk about marketing now. I see a blog on your site, what else do you do?
Yes the Blog is something that I have believed about since the gossip portal days. I don’t believe in out rightly selling something on the face but rather plug it into conversations and interesting discussions that revolve around my products. So its always easier for me to sell my t-shirt from a blog that talks about the uniqueness of my design and why someone must have it.
I am also active on Facebook both personally as well as from my brand’s angle to ensure we generate interest among prospective buyers in an organic manner and also generate some amount of virality. I do believe it is only Mind-share that will eventually get a business its Market-share.
IOS: Spoken like a true entrepreneur. Tell me what keeps you inspired and motivated every day?
I love this movie- Pursuit of Happyness J Every time I watch I sit up and rethink life. Sometimes I have even felt I could have done something productive instead of watching the film itself. Such strong is its message. It is a definite inspiration and my motivation comes from the money I am making. With little effort and time, if I can make money; more effort and time would mean so much more! Don’t take me wrong, but this is my perception. I love money and I have seen what money can buy. But to me money is freedom. It is Freedom to choose a path and walk in it be it a business or a charity.
IOS: Perhaps someday you will be an inspiration to the new budding sellers out there. What is your advice to them?
I would say, stick by what you decide. It is a roller coaster ride like others put it, but if you have patience and belief in what you do, the rewards are sweet. Also if you are in business don’t hesitate in loving the money you make!
Ayush, here is wishing you luck with your endeavor. Hope you scale great heights!