Doing business organically

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The organic industry in India is expanding in scope. New products are being added such as organic face creams, hand wash, shampoo, fertilizers, etc., even as the existing range continues to remain highly popular. Riding on the organic wave is a multi-crore industry that rakes in millions of profits annually.

In Goa, Sarika Ugar, a Margao based youngster, recently ventured into organic fabrics. Her outlet Ree Organics is probably the only one in the state to sell organic fabrics to designers and the fashion industry. Ugar has ambitious plans of taking her business forward.

“So far I operated in the B2B segment of the market but now I plan to foray into the B2C segment,” she says. From supplying to fashion designers earlier she is now ready to cater to the general public and therefore busy stocking up the store.

Ugar started up by taking a loan from EDC under the CMRY scheme. She is planning for forward integration by launching readymade garments under her own label ‘Ingredient’. Initially the label will only deal in men’s shirts but longer-term it is going to be expanded to all kinds of readymade wear.

Talking about her decision to venture into organic fabrics, she says that it because of her parents who were very environment and health conscious and discouraged “us from using artificial and synthetic stuff as kids. I always liked fabrics and growing up my cupboard was (it still is) filled with meters of material, some gifted and some purchased. I always intended to give them for stitching but never got down to it for lack of a good tailor.”

Ugar loved looking through the material and feeling its texture and weave. She had already planned to become an entrepreneur and so zeroed in on textiles as choice of business. “Trading in standard textiles would make me like any cloth shop owner in Margao or Panjim market so I settled on organic fabrics.” It is a new field in the Indian textile industry for which she had to do a lot of research.

Ree Organics stocks organic material sourced from about eight mills and about 11 suppliers. The mills, based in Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Bangalore, use organic cotton, viz. cotton grown in certified organic soil, non-GMO seed and then hand-woven into fabrics. Only fabrics certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) are considered as organic, she explains.

The outlets first customers were designers such as Philu Martins, Ninoshka, Imrana, Purvi Doshi, Micheal Bailey, among others. “I thought there would be no takers for organic fabrics but was presently surprised to discover a demand for it,” she says. The clientele is through word-of-mouth and demand is growing steadily. Since starting out in June 2015, the store is done about Rs 40 lakh worth of business.

Other than organic fabrics the store also stocks material woven out of milk, bamboo, banana, soya and corn. It has handloom fabrics in swaths of colour, organic tee-shirt material, fabrics with natural dye or in ayurvedic dye. The materials are attractive and in varied print and shades.

“The fashion industry is booming and there are several designers who want to come out with an organic collection. My store meets a niche demand,” she explains.

India’s textile industry is vast and suppliers of material are dime-a-dozen. Competition from online sites and unorganized sector are other issues. Cost of organic fabrics is also higher than regular fabrics and the common man probably is happy with any kind of affordable fabric. Ugar is smart enough to understand these factors. Yet she is quite confident of overcoming these hurdles and making a mark in Goa’s industry.  “Demand for organic fabrics does exist in the market and I just have to tap the right kind of customers to succeed,” says Ugar.