Fashion has been a very demanding sector as shopping preferences are volatile here. Irrespective of different age groups, fashion priorities get changed on a regular basis. Soumil Surana, founder of The Secret Label has introduced a blend of modern and ethnic collection for men and women. This startup focuses on providing a distinctive social experience to the customers with its unique and wide array of collections. The brand is known for enabling designers to create their own virtual stores.
In order to bring that unique style quotient in the fashion landscape, the brand has created an elegant collection fashion products and accessories at par with modern trends. In a candid conversation with Entrepreneur, Surana discussed about the experiences of his entrepreneurial journey.
How did it all begin?
I pursued industrial engineering at Georgia Tech, post which I worked in the U.S. for some time before coming back to India. I worked with Facebook India for a while and then pursued MBA from ISB. After competing MBA from ISB, I was really kicked about starting my own venture. The MBA degree gave me the confidence to take up the entrepreneurial role. Before starting, I did rigorous market research and initially understood the pain points faced by designers and vendors dealing with other ecommerce companies. Post that I implemented a methodology to make The Secret Label not just a customer friendly platform, but also a designer friendly brand.
What made you chose entrepreneurship as a career vision?
Being brought up in a business family, I was always passionate about starting my own venture. After pursuing my graduation degree from the U.S, I gained some work experience there and also working with Facebook in India.
How Secret Label is bringing new ideas in the fashion market?
At The Secret Label, we handpick designers who have the potential and need for recognition, not just locally but at a global level. We wish to earn a global recognition for Indian designers and make the international audience understand that Indian fashion is much beyond ‘Khadi’.
Is there a story behind the name of startup?
I realised there is immense talent in the country, right from the nooks and corners of Delhi’s Shahpur Jat to young fashion graduates. The Secret Label was born to unleash these secret talents which deserved to earn a much better recognition. Thus, we provided our designers a medium to reach out and present the best of their talents.
What is your business model and who are the key players of the team
We see ourselves as a highly curated marketplace for emerging and high-end designers. We have buyers from over 17 countries and hope to have a significant splurge in the numbers soon. The key to our success has been our founding team, with Marketing being headed by Prerna Bhatia, who has an incredible understanding of the products.
Vineeta Rajput is responsible for the impeccable curation you see on the site. Roshni Vasudevan heads our social media and brings a fresh positive energy to the team.
What has been the source of inspiration for you and your team?
Because we are start up, leaving a mark for ourselves in the market is very crucial and important. Customer feedback makes a huge difference and the increasing bonding with them is what inspires us to keep pushing our limits.
What’s your day like when you are not working?
I am a big movie buff! In fact, the whole team just discusses movies and sitcoms over lunch. Running is another perfect ‘alone time’ hobby of mine. It gives my clarity and peace of mind.
Tips for mushrooming entrepreneurs
Once you have a great business idea, the most important task is to pick the right core team who are self driven and equally passionate about the start-up space. They should think of the company as their own and keep working towards making a difference in their own unique ways.
Who has been your mentor in this entrepreneurial journey?
During my MBA at ISB, I had the privilege to learn Consumer Behavior by Professor Rishtee Batra. She has been our mentor and guide right from the start.
Any unique business mantra that you follow?
Yes, our mantra is to be extremely customer centric. We confirm every order with a call and entertain the smallest issues customers may face to an extent that they know us on a first name basis.
We also do not want to be a mass marketplace. We want to stay curated which helps both customers and designers. For designers, each of them gets good visibility on the website. For consumers, they have a great selection to choose from and nothing comes across as an odd piece in the puzzle.
Biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Since we are an eCommerce marketplace, we have dependencies on designers, who are our vendors and dependencies on the delivery service we use. As all products are made to order, the designers take anywhere between 7 days to up to a 3 weeks depending upon the garment intricacies. In such a situation unforeseen courier delivery delays, public holidays etc. disrupt the entire cycle.
There was this one time when a fast selling designer on our platform faced a major fabric crunch and it delayed the production of garments. We sent emails and made phone calls to customers for a week; wherever required we cancelled orders and refunded the money. The willingness to hear out our customers is what makes TSL stand apart.