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Actress Nupur Sanon breaks boundaries between fashion and business with her new brand, No Boundaries As Bollywood actress Nupur Sanon starts her new clothing brand NoBo—No Boundaries recently, in conversation with Entrepreneur India, the young artist opens up on her childhood story that inspired her to start her journey as an entrepreneur, why fashion policing on women should stop, and how she is balancing between establishing a homegrown brand and working on her next film Noorani Chehra with Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

By Arundhuti Banerjee

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Actress Nupur Sanon

The best way to describe Nupur Sanon is 'multi-talented'. She made her debut in the business of entertainment with the music video Filhal in 2019, opposite Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar. However, her journey was not as smooth as one would imagine, especially because she is also the sister of award-winning actress and entrepreneur Kriti Sanon. As the global pandemic started in 2020, like others, Nupur's career also slowed down a bit. Interestingly, the 28-year-old managed to keep her spirit high and took us on a laugh riot with the Hotstar special web series Pop Kaun in 2023, followed by the Telugu film Tiger Nageswara Rao alongside Telugu superstar Ravi Teja. Now that the actress has launched her clothing brand No Boundaries, she opens up about her dreams, future business plans, and what the boundaries are in the world of fashion and entertainment that need to be broken right now to build a better society.

Childhood memory and the inception of NoBo

Born and brought up in Delhi, Nupur said that since childhood she and her sister Kriti were always well-dressed children, all thanks to her mother, Geeta Sanon, the professor of physics at Delhi University. It is interesting to know how she always took extra care of her daughters to inculcate a strong fashion sense in them. Nupur said, "For our special occasions, be it birthday parties of our school friends, some festivals, or others, my mother used to stitch special dresses for us from scratch. She would go to the market to get the raw materials and create dresses for both of us that eventually made our appearance very special. Since then, I have developed an interest in clothing and fashion. As I have grown up and wanted to venture into a business, after having a discussion with my mother and sister, I just realized the passion I have for clothing. I should start a clothing brand."

Sharing her thoughts behind naming the brand NoBo, she also mentioned, "One of the reasons I started NoBo also came from bringing every kind of dress under one roof. It includes ethnic wear, party dresses, swimwear, and a very functional wardrobe for our professional outing, be it formal or informal. The idea is to embrace every mood of a woman with a different style of dressing."

If it's fashion, it should have no boundaries.

Being part of the entertainment industry, Nupur noticed that actresses are judged based more on appearance and vanity than their acting talent. She expressed her concern over the matter. Asked about that one boundary that should be broken in the entertainment and fashion industries, she replied, "Whether it is in our entertainment industry or in any other sector, I absolutely hate it when women are brutally judged for the way they are dressed. It's almost like there are unsaid boundaries between well-dressed and average-dressed women. Why would you judge a woman based on their dressing and appearance rather than the talent that they have? She could be a great actress, dancer, businesswoman, and more. Many times I have also noticed that in the media, instead of talking about the talent of an actress, fashion police are commenting, 'What the hell was she wearing'?"

"Who is setting a fashion standard, and why does everyone have to fit in? Considering the fact that fashion and styling are signatures and expressions of an individual, putting them in one box is unfair. I think that creates additional pressure on a talented personality, which I find wrong. I do not see men facing such scrutiny for their appearance as we do. In a fair world, such boundaries should not exist. Art and fashion should include everybody instead of creating boundaries," she further explained.

Quality matters over marketing gimmicks.

While celebrities endorsing a brand is a common practice, one would wonder why she took the pain of starting a business venture and invested money and time, which is much riskier than a brand endorsement. Nupur said, "Yes, that's right, it is comparatively easier to lend your support for a brand as a celebrity than to start your own brand because entrepreneurship is all about risk-taking. But I have been working tirelessly for the last 10 months to establish my brand, and with my research work, I realized that marketing, advertising campaigns, and celebrity brand endorsements cannot convert a product into sales for longer if quality is compromised."

"Whether it is a dress, a cosmetic product, or anything, at the end of the day, customers' feedback on the product helps to build the brand. I have been emotionally and physically investing time to build NoBo," she said.

Nupur went on to add, "I think when it comes to celebrity endorsement, initially, as a fan of an actor, you might buy the product. But if the quality of the product is bad, you won't use it just because you love the celeb who is promoting the brand! I, on the other hand, am totally involved in the thick- and -thin of everything. I travel with my team to collect the dress material, and I sit with the masterji (tailor) for ideation, cutting, stitching, budgeting, and marketing."

Investment of time, money, and people

As Nupur is observing her sister Kriti, who is an investor and business owner, she has decided to grow slowly, steadily, and with wise investment instead of putting in huge capital from the start. Talking about her initial investment in the brand NoBo, Nupur said, "As it is a homegrown brand, I have started really small. For the first two months, I have worked with one tailor and two karigars under him. I rented out a small workshop where the production is happening. Overall, I have only 10 people, including operations, management, and production. I and my mother are supervising everything. Initially, for the first two months, I invested around Rs 4 lakhs, and as we are increasing production and getting more orders, the investment in raw materials is increasing too. The figure is changing every month. Right now, we are at that stage where we are balancing between the volume of production and the cost of production. As our volume of production increases and the cost of production lowers, we will start making a profit."

As the number of entrepreneurs is increasing and new ideas and businesses are finding their right market, Nupur thinks that it is a good time for all the entrepreneurs, especially for homegrown brands.

However, she said that she does not feel the competitive pressure. Rather, she is learning the importance of feedback and the power of success stories.

She said, "I get inspired by success stories instead of feeling the pressure of competition. Before I started my business, I used to watch the stories of Shark Tank, and some of the stories really motivated me and helped me gather courage to start my business. I learned the importance of giving a personal touch to consumers by customizing services."

"So whatever DM we get on our NoBo social media handles, I personally read and respond to those feedbacks. As an actress, otherwise we tend to live in a bubble. But by involving myself in customer feedback, I am getting a reality check and a better understanding of their demands. Eventually, it is helping me for the betterment of our product," added the actress.

Balancing the act between business and cinema

As the actress is shuffling between cinema and NoBo, traveling across the country, going to cities like Jaipur, Varanasi, Surat, and other places to collect raw materials for dresses, and expanding her network with workers in the clothing business, Nupur admits that there are extra hours she has to put in, and it becomes a bit overwhelming at times. But she also mentioned how two 'M' factors are driving her constantly: her mother and her self-motivation.

She said, "Yes, I have my film lined up, and I was shooting for it. Last month, I also had a Telugu film release, for which I was occupied promoting the film. But this is the time I am working hard, and I knew I had to put in a lot of effort because these are the initial days of my journey as an entrepreneur. When I am not physically present at my workshop or interacting with the tailors and others, my mother is always there. She is an equal partner in the business. Otherwise, I am virtually doing all the meetings and handling the management."

"I am ready to put in this extra hour for the next three years for my brand to establish itself. I know once the whole system is in place, the machine will get into autopilot mode," Nupur signed off.

Arundhuti Banerjee

Content Editor

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