Smashing the Patriarchy: Online Lingerie Store by Women, for Women

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It doesn't take an activist to admit that there isn't one single country across the globe that has a complete equality between both sexes. Sexism plagues society in diverse forms includes systematic oppression to subdue women's sexual freedom and even the basic ability to feel good about themselves. The simple act of buying your essentials may seem like routine affair for men, but for women across all ages still remains trivialized, taboo and unnecessarily sexualized. Startups like Zivame, which offer online lingerie store for women are aiming to break the taboo and smash the patriarchy!

Sophia Amoruso

We had a chat with Richa Kar, CEO of Zivame, at SURGE 2016, Bangalore on how it feels to run a start-up that was objectively run by male retailers previously.

Breaking free from the taboo

It is still considered a taboo for women to be even seen walking to a store to buy lingerie even though it is a necessity, not an accessory in modern society. Women are hesitant to choose and ask a male salesperson to show them different options of colors, styles, or fittings in innerwear. "We want to make the whole experience of choosing your own innerwear, thinking about it and looking at it as a joyful experience," quipped Richa.

The right of choice

"It is sad that a lot of women are actually unaware about their size, and while women may be curious or interested in different categories but the idea of women looking at lingerie is supposed to hush-hush in society today. I believe if you're investing in something that others cannot see and only you can see, touch, feel and experience, you feel empowered in doing something about yourself. The vision was to make women feel a lot more confident about making decisions about their clothes for themselves" said Richa.

Inspiration behind the idea

Richa stated the inspiration behind opening the online lingerie option wasn't particularly self inspired but was based on the general plight of women everywhere, "I realized even at the prime age of 30, I didn't know of any famous brands apart from Victoria Secrets because I'd kept lingerie very reclusive part of my wardrobe. Experiences are formed by memories, like your mom would buy your first pair, which shifts to a family store, you never know what's right for you. I said let's make women feel wonderful and empowered about themselves within the privacy of their own home"

Women entrepreneurs leading women's causes

Zivame aims to break down taboos especially in small cities, avoiding awkward conversations with extremely pushy and personal judgments of salesmen who'd scan you head to toe suggesting what size would best work for you. Lingerie is very much a necessity, but it's unnecessarily shown overly-sexualized for women. If you're trying to create a change you cannot be apologetic about it. "As a woman I can see the audience as consumer, I took the category that preserved the dignity of the products at place. I portrayed the products as consumers, and didn't trivialize it" said Richa.

Advice for other women entrepreneurs

"If you're building a company you shouldn't focus on the rat race, because if you focus on the competition you'd not focus on your products and services. I focus my company on what the customer wants. Entrepreneurs are filled with hardships; my experience would be very different from what you experience yourself. Remain focused and not give up and fight it out, with every night a day follows. There were many times I thought of quitting, everyday has a new set of problems, but people are looking up to your product and services, so march forward with pride!"

(Edited by Rustam Singh)