Around The City pioneers environment and skin-friendly clothing while making them only on demand, this avoiding wastage.
Cities have always been such an Integral part of our everyday lives. Cities have so much to offer and they tap into different emotions such as joy, excitement, nostalgia and happiness. We literally thrive, vibe and build our lives in these metropolitan jungles. Always looking forward to new places, food, entertainment and of course people. Cities have so much going on in them, that they always hold some special place for someone somewhere. It is in this context that we look at the brand Around The City that strive to look effortlessly stylish while one goes around hustling and doing their own thing.
City life can be very demanding at times and women sometimes want to look their best by spending less time in making decisions on what to wear, hence we at Around The City create everyday pieces which elevate your style effortlessly. In this exclusive email interview with B N Kumar of BizNewsConnect, NIHARIKA RAUT, founder of Around The City, explains the ethos and the USP of the brand.
BizNewsConnect How exactly you thought of this idea and how and when did you start?
NIHARIKA RAUT: I have graduated in the fashion field itself. I did BA and MA both in fashion marketing and supply chain management respectively. I was in England for my higher education and while studying I realised that there was very little awareness regarding conscious fashion in India. I did my thesis in the same subject and that’s when I realised there was a gap in the Indian market and that’s how I started working on Around The City. It was my sheer need to create a home-grown brand which gives very city, modern and chic aesthetic and is made by keeping the environment in mind and crafted mindfully. Living for a long time in cities like Singapore and London made be fall in love with the whole city aesthetic and what they offer hence we decided to come up with Around The City. A brand for city girls who are busy building their lives but also want to look their best.
BizNewsConnect How many people are involved the ATC?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We are small but very mighty team of 6 people. We all work on different aspects of the brand and it is extremely satisfying to work with such credible, genuine and like-minded individuals.
BizNewsConnect And the investments/funding details?
NIHARIKA RAUT: Our business has been completely bootstrapped since the beginning. It can be challenging at times but it has also offered certain benefits such as control over the business and financial independence.
BizNewsConnect: How has been the journey so far
NIHARIKA RAUT: It has been a roller coaster ride for us. We started at the very end of 2021 and since there has been no looking back. We started slow at first but now we more consistent than ever before. When we started the pandemic was still lurking on us but nevertheless, we managed to get pass through that and got amazing ROI right from the start, as a young entrepreneur it feels genuinely gratifying to be able to do this and be on this journey with some really incredible people on our team.
BizNewsConnect: Biodegradable – please explain as to what happens to used clothes?
NIHARIKA RAUT: All our fabrics are sourced from certified vendors. Most of these fabrics sourced are biodegradable in nature- meaning, if the reach the landfills they will be decomposed as opposed to other fabrics such as polyester, nylon, conventional cotton etc.
BizNewsConnect How do you cut down carbon foot print?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We are a slow fashion brand. We make clothes only on demand basis and do not do bulk order at our warehouse. All the raw materials are sourced locally from Indian vendors. We also as mentioned earlier, only work with quality and certified vendors to source our raw materials from and this allows us to keep quality in check. In terms of the inks used for printing, they are GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standard- certified inks which are safer and cleaner for the environment and also for human skin. The dyes we use are AZO-free dyes in our products which are completely skin-friendly. These are some of the measures we are taking to reduce our carbon footprint.
BizNewsConnect The inks that you make – how do you procure them?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We do not procure the inks ourselves; we work with certified printers who have GOTS certified ink printing. Most of printing is done in Mumbai.
BizNewsConnect: Do you have own R&D setup or outsource it?
NIHARIKA RAUT: Yes, we have our own R&D set up but since we are a start-up, we do tend to outsource certain aspects of our development process. The final aim is to be a cohesive ecosystem.
BizNewsConnect What kind of fashion audience to you address – kids, teens, youth, middle-aged, office, etc?
NIHARIKA RAUT: Our target audience is women aged between 19 - 34. Women who are city dwellers and have a busy lifestyle, who are always on the go but prioritise their appearance and want to look good in minimum effort. We do a lot of everyday wear dresses, co-ord sets, tops, bottoms, jackets etc.
BizNewsConnect: Cotton is supposed to be biodegradable anyway. How different is your concept and how exactly do you envisage to protect the environment?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We used organic certified cotton. Organic cotton does not use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers which makes it pure and is free of any nasties. That’s the simplest explanation to use organic cotton over conventional cotton.
BizNewsConnect: How do you generate demand?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We are entirely driven by social media marketing as well as Meta paid ads. We get our most engagement on Instagram and whenever there is a sale, we tend to cater towards it. As mentioned earlier, we produce on demand only basis.
BizNewsConnect: Isn't linen expensive?
NIHARIKA RAUT: Yes. linen is an expensive fabric, but that is because it has some really unique properties to it. It has longevity, it is eco-friendly and also has moisture absorbing property. It can be even considered as a luxury fabric. Linen is woven fabric made from natural and renewable plant-based resource. It is still an exclusive fabric as manufacturing is low making it is expensive than something like cotton.
BizNewsConnect What is the range of your pricing – category wise?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We price our products based on value. We usually price our products based on what type of the product it is and what fabrics, unique pattern making and other design elements have gone into it. Also, we believe in paying fair-wage to our workforce and hence our products are slightly at premium pricing.
BizNewsConnect What are your future plans?
NIHARIKA RAUT: We wish to grow in all ways as any new brand. Our aim for the future remains to provide access to women in India to own clothes that are well made, stylish and are crafted mindfully. Our vision is to make conscious fashion extremely accessible. We would also like to tap into pop up spaces, where in consumers feel more connected to us as a brand which would also help us to ensure more transparency and trust with them.