We women love and cherish our wardrobes. The vivid colours it holds, our dream dresses, comfortable clothes, treasured possessions, garments that bring back cherished memories.
In this entire closet every woman always has a special storage space for her inner wear, be it a designated drawer or a chest of drawers.
The colour Pink is the colour most often associated with charm politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness and the romantic. All of which truly describes a woman. No wonder it has been associated with femininity for generations. That’s where the name PINK CLOSET was derived from. Arti Ahuja CEO of Pink Closet was born and brought up in Mumbai. She pursued hotel management at Dadar Catering College (IHM Mumbai) Thereafter she was selected by The Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development as a management trainee. After completion of the same she worked across The Oberoi group followed by Ginger hotels till 2009.
Relocated to Belagavi in 2010 after marriage. Belagavi being a tier 2 city didn’t have much employment scope in local hotels. The city lacked options of Fashion Retail in 2010 and it seemed like a promising area to explore…given that the city boasts of a cosmopolitan crowd ranging from medical and engineering students and professionals, an affluent industrial sector and also ranks in the top 5 Indian military training centers.
They launched BIBA as a franchisee in 2010 and thereafter brands AND, Global Desi, Soch, Jockey soon followed.
She always felt the pinch when it came to shopping for lingerie in Belagavi and would often find herself stocking up her essentials from Mumbai itself. “The urge to launch an exclusive women’s Lingerie Nightwear Sportswear store grew stronger soon after I delivered my first child in 2014; the only option to buy appropriate maternity wear seemed to be online shopping. Thus, Pink Closet was conceptualized and launched on 31st July 2015.” Says, Arti Ahuja. Pink Closet is spread out in 1700 sq ft. It is ground plus one floor. The store is located on the high street of Belagavi and enjoys a clear wide frontage thereby making it hard to miss. They focus on doing attractive visual displays to lure walk ins.
The ground floor houses nightwear sportswear swimwear babydoll and accessories. 90% of the collection is maintained in an open display format.
The first floor is exclusively for inner wear where in they have done a setup like you would see in a Marks n Spencer lingerie section or a lingerie section of a departmental store. There are different wall spaces for all brands and all available styles are hung on a waterfall display. There by allowing their customers to freely walk around and choose from any brand any style any fit they wish to try.
They make sure every customer has a fit consultant assisting them and providing inputs on the appropriate fit as per ones body type. They use special bra measuring tapes to help their customers know their correct bra size. The first floor is serviced only by women staff at all times of the day there by giving their lady customers a pleasant and enjoyable shopping experience. They are the only lingerie store in Belagavi to follow this practice. They often have ladies come n spend over an hour trying and enjoying lingerie shopping leaving wonderful feedback about their service and their experience, enabling them to build an extensive list of loyal clients. We have a store manager who is the only gentleman in the store. They have 3 female fit consultants and one female sales staff. The staff uniform is jeans and printed pink kurti. The uniform is designed keeping comfort in mind at the same time representing Pink Closet appropriately.They have two spacious trial rooms, one on each floor. Their store manager handles the cashiering and all the sales staff is trained on billing and software. They accept all major credit and debit cards and practice a 15 day exchange policy on all their products apart from panties. All products for exchange need to be brought back in the original packaging with the tags and bill. They do not offer a refund but do offer credit notes.
Lingerie Brands: Amante Enamor Jockey Soie Hanes Sonari Juliet. They plan to launch Triumph shortly
Women’s Sleepwear Brands: Enamor, Valentine, Sonari, Gemini, Sukanya, Skinn Value, Naturals, Choosy Cherry and Swimwear Brands- Lobster.
They also have babydoll, accessories, tubes and slips, sports bras sold under own name. They outsource the same from their vendors in Mumbai. These are all imported products.
They do not plan to get into manufacturing. In the Lingerie segment Bras range from Rs. 245/- to 1995/- Panties range from 135/- to 645/- Babydoll from 899/- to 1999/- Sportswear from 299/- to 1499/- and Nightwear from 699 to 1899/-
Tete a Tete with Arti Ahuja on Her Journey And Launch Of Her Store Pink Closet.
Was it challenging entering the lingerie industry?
“The startup and initial year was a big challenge as it took some time for us to understand the right product portfolio. Managing franchisees of reputed brands that have everything in place is a different ball game than trying to create and introduce a new concept in a discreet territory such as Lingerie.”
We experimented with various brands ranging from budget to premium in Lingerie as well as Nightwear.
“From the very beginning our brand identity was well defined in my mind i.e. to provide ladies with a superior lingerie shopping experience at par with any normal multibrand garment store. An outlet where women can freely explore new lingerie styles and designs just as they would in any ethnic store or western wear store such as BIBA n AND. Even today women are uncomfortable with male sales staff suggesting their innerwear sizes and find themselves restricted to choosing from few designs stocked in boxes, which clearly is on the discretion of the sales staff’s mood on the particular day. We wanted to create a shopping experience where women would be able to choose from an open display of all products under all categories and brands and also not feel awkward discussing their intimate measurements or fit issues. Keeping this as our philosophy we have only women staff to service our customers. We address our staff as Fit Consultants as they are all trained and experienced in the innerwear segment.”
Do you have any more stores? How many?
“We have retail store in both franchisee and our own MBO stores. We have the following Franchisees: BIBA,
SOCH, JOCKEY, AND GLOBAL DESI. We have an optical MBO by the name Foresight and a multi brand watch studio named Attitude.”
What are consumers looking for in lingerie and nightwear according to you? What changes have you seen in consumer behavior and demand?
“Consumers today are more receptive towards changing trends and are open to trying new fits and fabrics. Women seek variety and style in innerwear and nightwear as well these days rather than purely focusing on comfort. Coordinated fashion inner wear and bridal wear are in demand.”
Which brand is in more demand? Name top 4 selling brands…
“Our fast moving brands are:
Amante Enamor Jockey in lingerie.
In nightwear Valentine Jockey Sukanya and Gemini are our top sellers.
Sportswear Jockey and Enamor being our top sellers”.
How do you decide which brands to stalk?
When we started out we thought it best to offer products in all categories and price points from budget to mid range to premium. Overtime we have realized that we cater primarily to the premium market and hence today we primarily stock top end brands like Amante Jockey Enamor.”
What kind of impact will GST have on your industry, retail and your consumers?
“ 80% of our products are priced under Rs. 1000/- for which the VAT % was similar to the current GST tax rate. Too early to comment on the impact of GST on manufacturing of lingerie in India.”
Any plans for expansion? New stores?
“In this line of retail we are still new and have a lot to learn and assess. We shall hopefully expand Pink Closet in other tier 2 cities in the coming years.”