Aayushi Chiripal is the founder and CEO of LMNO (Life Means New Options), a relatively new and fresh face in the urban clothing space. Aayushi aspires to build a one-stop-shop that lets frequent flying women nail an international look on the move. LMNO aims to deliver a consistent experience of amazement at the last mile, both through its online stores and offline presence.
This is an exclusive interview with Aayushi, as a part of The Times Blog - Stories initiative.
What prompted you to launch LMNO, amidst a cocktail of online fashion joints in the Indian market?
I operate in the everyday clothing sector. What really prompted me to start LMNO, is the need for an easygoing urban brand for Indian masses. Today, with easy access to social media (especially on Instagram and Facebook), every girl aspires to dress up chic and do it with ease, and do it affordably.
My aim with LMNO is primarily to tap markets where high street brands are not easily available, but also to serve every girl who wants access to comfortable-yet-trendy fashion on a daily basis.
When did you begin operations, and what were your challenges in launching LMNO?
We launched on 14th February 2017 - almost a year and a half ago. Since then, we've come a really long way. Earlier, we used to outsource our manufacturing needs. But there were commitment & quality issues that we started facing.
That is when we decided to manufacture everything in-house. Also, the most important challenge is to build the right team. We are always looking for the right kind of talent, but since Ahmedabad is not exactly the design hub, thoughtful hiring has been a tough nut to crack. Right now, we have some really creative minds on board, who are busy putting it all together.
How did your family react when you told them you wanted to run your own business?
Well, I grew up in a very entrepreneurial environment. My dad is my biggest inspiration when it comes to work. My family has always been supportive, and enabled me to dream big and work with ethics.
How did you go about finding the right audience for LMNO?
In retail, you are what customers make you out to be. The good thing about our industry is that customers know exactly what they want. Once they know and understand the quality, and if it matches their fashion sensibilities, they will then become your loyal customers.
It is definitely a slow process of acquiring niche customers, but mostly our users have kept coming back for the next collection on offer. We've started building the right relationships with our buyers, through their confidence in our quality.
Was there ever a time when you felt overwhelmed with your business and unable to continue? What made you continue? What kept you motivated at your worst moments?
Of course! There have been so many challenges, some coming from our own internal limitations and a few external factors too. But it is the team that keeps me going. They have immense belief in the brand, and in our product. And that always reminds me that we are onto something big!
Who are you most influenced by, and what is your takeaway from their words/actions?
I have a few influences, and the biggest among them is my father. I have learned to dream and achieve from him. He is a visionary in every sense. He always tells me, only those who dare to ask for big things in life, end up achieving them. So never dream small.
What are the Top 3 Business Takeaways that you did not know when you first started out?
1. The most difficult to create but important asset for any business is the team.
2. Listen to your customers. Most of your research and development can be done just by listening to your customers carefully.
3. Networking and collaborative action are the most effective ways to climb the ladder. There is nothing better than mutual harmony.
What advice would you give to your ten-year younger self, if given an opportunity?
Dear Aayushi Then,
Please be quick and precise in your work. The most efficient way of establishing a business, probably, is to start early and have a quick decision-making approach. You will save yourself from so much competition if you just start early!
Are you raising funds for LMNO?
For now, we feel adequately equipped to execute our daily operations and to keep offering our new collections. However, we are optimistic about an expansion in the near future and we will evaluate investment options at that time.
Any advice to aspiring startup founders and entrepreneurs who want to make it big in 2018 and beyond?
The fashion industry is always changing and rapidly growing, so it is important to stay ahead of the curve. Always know and understand your target audience. Take inspiration from your surroundings and listen to your customers. Your brand will only do well if you know what your consumers are looking for. But most importantly, go with your instinct.
Is there anyone you want to thank?
Like I said above, it will have to be my family. Their constant support and encouragement has always made me dream big, and that is what keeps me going!
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