“It’s Not About Ideas. It’s About Making Ideas Happen.”- Anuja Sharma & Saumya Tripathi

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1. Tell us more about your company and your journey.

We at TagWithTog believe in making comfortable yet chic clothing which you can carry from ‘Desk’ to ‘Dinner’. We set out in the highly competitive entrepreneurship with a small albeit unique display in a nondescript exhibition in Bandra in mid-2017 where we sold out more than 50% of the stock of 30 odd handmade garments in a matter of a few hours.

There has been no looking back since except to learn from our mistakes and enjoy our little successes. Our clothing was an instant hit in exhibitions but our online launch on Amazon and Flipkart was a massive flop. The journey has been tumultuous yet satisfying enough to maintain the rigor. Exhibitions helped us to create an organic client base, take direct consumer feedback and they continue to be our primary B2C marketing channel.

2. How did you come up with this idea and go about executing it?

Saumya: Well I have never been much of a planner myself so I never thought of choosing either a comfortable salaried life or go the entrepreneurship on during my education. During my two short stints in my post-college jobs, I realized that I was enterprising enough to try my hands at creating my own fashion brand.

My experience as a senior production merchandiser made me understand how to maintain quality at low costs. But I was able to crack it early enough because of a stint with an export house. There was a little gap in marketing and controls required in a factory to retail setup which was filled in when my sister-in-law Anuja joined in. This is where I saw the need to make clothing that has minimal design but more pattern and makes you feel comfortable yet stylish in your budget.

Anuja - I was never a born entrepreneur. After pursuing an MBA and working with Cognizant Technologies for 3 years, I had an urge to do something more creative. I initially helped out with sharing some marketing & advertising ideas, giving her a hand in the logistics, participating with her in exhibitions, etc. The work initially was never-ending but it never drained me out and I enjoyed solving the hiccups of the start-up. A couple of months later, I bit the bullet and joined Saumya full-time and started building the brand together. It has been almost a year and we keep breaking new ground together. It's still a long way to go but then it's always the journey which is fun while the destination remains in sight.

3. What has been your biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome that?

Lack of family support was something which did keep us under a lot of pressure from early on, each day was about fighting on two fronts- personal as well as professional. It began with bootstrapping business with small savings while not having access to enough money is always a challenge. Lastly, coming from a non-business background, lack of relevant social contacts remained a challenge. The business communities in India are quite closely knit and it’s extremely difficult to make inroads in traditional businesses like clothing.

How did we overcome all this? Perseverance! Play to your strengths rather than covering your weaknesses. Meticulous planning and dynamic execution while improvising on the way ultimately help. We face challenges still but have learned how to work despite them.

4. What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

Perseverance and patience, period. Success doesn’t come easily in any field but when you are on board the entrepreneurship wagon then there are no tracks visible. Don’t crib about problems but think of solutions. Your problem-solving ability is the key to your every next step. If you have partners then never shy away in discussing conflicts, it saves you a lot of time and mistakes.

5. What are some of the most important factors for running a successful business?

Consistency. Flexibility. Clarity.

Keep small targets and make sure you complete them on time. You always will have a plan but not necessarily things will work out in the way you want to so be ready for the last-minute modifications. Always be open to new ideas even if they don’t match with yours but try to look at things with different perspectives.

6. What are your tips for the first time and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Being an entrepreneur can be extremely nerve-wracking and demanding. However, it becomes equally fulfilling and worth all the efforts and time, if done right.

Step out of your comfort zone and take risks – This is one of the most thrilling parts of being an entrepreneur. There will be many times when you will be required to make decisions to see if something works. Do not try to build a safety net around yourself every time.

Focus more on demand-side than supply-side– Build a product that sells, not what is quick to make and easy to procure. It is extremely important while designing a product that you put aside your individual likes and dislikes and focus on what your customers feel is comfortable and worthy.

Provide top-notch customer service – Be there for your customers – guide them, assist them, help them overcome their dilemmas, give them a wonderful experience, and do not forget them. Go the extra mile to show your appreciation.

Prepare for financial challenges – Despite having a well-prepared budget in place, uncalled for financial challenges are inevitable. Keep some capital aside to keep you afloat in such situations. Try to think of ways of generating additional income.

There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes - Never forget even the smallest job is a part of your business which you might have to do. Do it with grace and a smile on your face.

Lastly, give yourself that much-deserved break because you have earned it!

7. How can one overcome a hurdle of lack of funds when starting up?

Cost Discipline: Follow it from day one of your business, be a miser when it comes to business expenses. It is extremely difficult to lower costs when you start out on a small scale and thus you should learn to avoid a single expense that is not needed.

Start saving early: We both had jobs with relatively small salaries but still saved almost 50% of it.

Saumya: That first exhibition in Bandra was organized with the help of my savings from my 9-month stint in an export house. I avoided unnecessary purchases, prioritizes my needs, and gave up simple luxuries like my post-dinner ice cream for some time.

Anuja: I had saved some money for my future holidays because of my love for travel and today, it works as our constant source of small capital infusions we need from time to time.

And to top, it all focus and channel all your efforts on sales, sales, and sales!

- Saumya Tripathi & Anuja Sharma, Founders of Tag with Tog

   Interview By - Shilpy Sharan

“It’s Not About Ideas. It’s About Making Ideas Happen.”- Anuja Sharma & Saumya Tripathi “It’s Not About Ideas. It’s About Making Ideas Happen.”-  Anuja Sharma & Saumya Tripathi Reviewed by Shilpy Sharan on May 02, 2020 Rating: 5

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