”You just need a little bit of wild to live a truly liberating life”
And this is what exactly she did, as she turned her love for fabrics, creation, and innovation into a creative venture and turned it into a real business.
Our Uncommon fashion entrepreneur Sukanya Bhattacharya founded Prathaa, a unique and trendy women’s fashion brand making fashionable and affordable trends for everyone. Her love for fabrics started right from her grandma’s lap who used to sew most of the pieces of clothing she wore for at least the first 10 years of her life… including cotton dresses, woolens or crochet jackets.
Our mountain girl Sukanya bubbling with energy and excitement is thrilled to share her inspirational journey of becoming a fashion entrepreneur. We recently caught up with Sukanya to interview her to know more about the brand Prathaa and her highly inspiring entrepreneurial journey.
#TUB: Tell us about the name of your brand? What is the story behind it?
Our brand is Prathaa – weaving traditions.
In my growing up years, I always procured fabric from Gurjari, Boyonika, Mrignayani and implemented my own wacky silhouettes getting them stitched by the local neighbourhood tailor. It was back then when I used the local towel or “gamcha” (which is trending now, decades later) to make tops, scarves etc and the local “mill” saree which came for Rs.70, into a nice flowy skirt which raised eyebrows in my immediate high profile Tea industry upbringing.
Secretly everyone wished they owned that unique piece of garment too. That’s where designing began for me.
My curiosity and love for Indian fabrics, for continuously creating something new stayed along with me as a hobby /passion. My love for traveling led me to visit and spend days/weeks with the weaver community in a couple of villages and absorb their lifestyle.
It is heartbreaking to see this beautiful talent of weaving fade away. Even though the villagers are hardworking, the next generation in most households is not pursuing the art. This hit me hard and hence I thought of playing a tiny role in conserving it even while I was working as a Brand Consultant and handling different brand consulting projects along with growing and nurturing my infant baby Prathaa
The birth of Prathaa can be traced back to this idea of creating a platform to showcase Indian art and weaves. It was conceived during one of my “Khesh” weaving sessions in the interior village of Bolpur in West Bengal. That’s how Prathaa was born and the rest is history.
#TUB: What sparked off your interest in creating this kind of merchandise?
It all started from my immense love and appreciation of the opulent weaves and art of India. Visits to the interior villages of Karnataka, Gujarat, and Bengal, re-established the hard truth that these are almost on the verge of extinction. Finally, in an interior village of Bolpur in West Bengal, I conceived the idea of providing a platform through which these rich weaves sourced directly from the weavers and convert them into contemporary designs. It was my sheer love of fabrics that evolved into learning more about them, getting to know their manufacturers and the skills behind creating them.
#TUB: Who and what inspired you to begin this journey? What keeps you motivated till now ?
It’s only your passion that will motivate you through the tough times and it needs to come from inside of you.
Along with a desire to provide a channel for the weavers and artisans to keep their art growing, It was my passion for fabrics, colours, storytelling and creating something new which were the few pointers that triggered the thought.
Every member of my immediate family and friends are the biggest support system and their confidence in me and Prathaa keeps us going. Our patrons’ love and appreciation for our creations is the biggest motivating factor to continue this journey with extra zeal and enthusiasm.
#TUB: How have you gone about dedicatedly building this brand? What has been the process?
The brand building has been a process of storytelling. Prathaa does not merely sell a design or a piece of garment, we narrate and establish stories for each design that we create and our customers love being a part of this journey.
The desired objective of Prathaa is to translate the weaving expertise of craftsmen into a sense of pride through our meticulously crafted designs and narration.
Prathaa derives its inspiration from the essence of being a woman.
Our clothes try to incorporate qualities of the woman of today and showcase her versatility and beauty with an ethnic touch. Each design we create has an elaborate process behind it, and the starting point is always the commitment towards using natural weaves and breathable material. No matter how modern the design, or how intricate the pattern, we ensure that we don’t stray from our promise of 100% natural material. We mix and match colors in eye-catching styles that are sure to appeal to the discerning woman of today.
Our current Tyauhaar collection has just revealed the Navratriseries. This involved a complete research of the significance of this festival, the nine forms of Goddess Durga, understanding the personality of each thoroughly, identifying the Prathaa woman with them and then integrating our design process and launch with the same in the form of storytelling.
So, our customer friends not only take a Prathaa design home but also a lot of stories along with it. Few cornerstones which are the foundation of our brand building are –
- Personalised and constant communication with the customer
- Utmost focus on quality
- After sales support
#TUB : What is the USP of your brand? What qualities you like to associate your brand with?
With Prathaa, we hope to create that little difference for the woman, by making it personalized with our stories and communication and keeping her connected to her roots, while simultaneously giving her wings to fly.
The brand embodies the modern urban woman, who welcomes change and innovation and is aware of her rich historical inheritance. It represents every woman who embraces the past with respect, enjoys the present with pride and looks to the future with optimism. Each collection has a development process as well. Our team at Prathaa looks to translate the inherent honesty and hard work of the Indian artisans into modern edgy clothes, rejoicing in colour, cut and quirk.
As far as the Prathaa design sense is concerned, we keep it functional and real. Minimalistic designs and innovative silhouettes define the Prathaa ensemble.
#TUB: What has been the response of the market for your brand? How have you learned from the pitfalls if any?
The focus of Prathaa designs is never on competition or pursuing the current trends, but always on the quality and comfort of fabrics irrespective of body type or skin tone.
We keep them functional and minimalistic and this has been widely accepted by our patrons. Although the Prathaa venture was initially passion-driven, the love, appreciation, and acceptance that we received from our friends and patrons motivated us further to make the brand more accessible.
#TUB: Tell us about a couple of milestones on this journey.
The biggest and constant milestone is the appreciation and loyalty that we receive from everyone who has worn a Prathaa.Hence, in an attempt to make ourselves easily accessible to them, we launched our exclusive online shop www.prathaa.in to broaden our sales in every region.
We have also extended our availability to few other marketplaces like Amazon, Limeroad, Luxehues , World art community, The Red Polka and Beyond Gallery with few others in the pipeline.
While Prathaa’s foundation lies in the social consciousness of preserving and developing Indian art and weaves and our primary offering will always remain to clothe. Taking this core vision forward we have also launched our sustainable accessories fashion arm “Ityaadi” (Clothing etc) where the attempt is to up-cycle our waste material and also to train, engage, develop and provide employment to the women in our immediate community.
Learning and growing along with all well-wishers continues.
#TUB: In your opinion, what are the key traits required for anyone wishing to pursue a similar career?
Optimism, Patience, Persistence, and Consistency … with of course a perfect balance of the right and left brain functions ☺
#TUB : What would be your advice for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs like you?
Believe in your dreams, follow your passions but keep a close watch on the commercials.
About Sukanya :
She feels at home in the mountains as most of her childhood was spent in the tea gardens and its vicinity. Her schooling happened in Siliguri, situated at the base of the Himalayas from where she went to a boarding school in Kolkata to pursue further studies and landed her first job with Proctor &Gamble.
But her streak of quirkiness and wilderness was deep-rooted during her growing up years in the mountains and tea gardens hence the idea of settling down never really triggered!
Joining Sukanya, Prathaa is nurtured well with an extremely energetic, talented, innovative team working towards the goal that Prathaa has dreamt to achieve. With her expertise in business, design, operations, brand management and decades of experience, Sukanya is finding new ways to grow her business.
Her favourite thing is to make a woman confident and feel good about herself.
All set to conquer the world and make her style global, Prathaa delivers everything that a woman’s wardrobe needs.
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