The Second Generation Scion on Shaping the Fashion Industry
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When you are the son of an acclaimed fashion designer, finding your place in the family business is no easy task. Yash Dongre, son of Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre developed a natural liking towards the fashion business, especially the marketing side of things. That’s where he further went on to study marketing in college. Before joining the business formally, Dongre had casual exposure to the business just after finishing high school. “When I was still studying in Mumbai for my undergraduate programme I was still visiting the office a lot. Just sitting and meeting while doing basic tasks. So I got this exposure when I was 18-19 years old, so one of the advantages was by the time I joined the business officially which is five years ago. The early exposure helped me understand what part of the business I really wanted to work in,” remembers Dongre.
He also saw the transformation of the company from being a young small set up into a mid-size organisation. Seeing the operations of the company before and after growth, he knew scaling up won’t be easy. He wanted to find his way where he can add value. Dongre went on to do his masters in international marketing from Hult Business School, Boston. In 2015 he formally joined the business and took the onus of setting up the brand in United States (US). “In 2017, I moved to the US to set up a company there and we started it completely from scratch. We had no prior experience in the US as we had never done business in the US. I studied in the US and that was my only exposure. So I set up the whole operations from scratch, and I lived there for three years.” Dongre moved back to India in March this year before the pandemic led lockdown. He has been looking after the entire global operations but so far the focus has been US. He even developed the US website which serves all the other international markets.
Talking about his learning from the US market, Dongre says, “First we set up a pop-up store selling western garments. But we realized to focus on South Asians. We closed the pop-up opened and a much larger store in New York selling the entire collection of ethnic and Indian products which got a very good response. For Indian designer wear there was no availability in the market. After one year we got our act together. We were the first Indian designer label to go outside and open a store.” As per him, his mother Anita Dongre felt proud at this juncture. Now his aim is to set up operations in other international markets including Middle East, Canada and UK.
Ecommerce contribution of the brand has gone up from 10% to 40% in COVID times.
(This article was first published in the September 2020 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)