From just a random business that struck them one evening, the label The Indian Ethnic Co. by mother-daughter duo Hetal and Lekhinee Desai is now one of the most-loved brands in handloom clothing. With no formal fashion degree, Lekhinee is a professional Odissi dancer and MBA marketing graduate, while Hetal holds a Masters in Home Science. Both wanted to give a form to their fashion instincts and that’s how The Indian Ethnic Co. was born.
“My mother has always been designing clothes for me and my sister since childhood. She bought different kinds of material and created some very new kinds of apparel which caught a lot of attention from our friends and relatives. However, we never thought of making it a business back then. But now that my mother’s major responsibilities are over, we wanted her to concentrate on what she loved doing the most – fashion designing,” shares Lekhinee who manages the sales and marketing for the brand.
Handlooms were something the mother-daughter duo always connected with and so their journey began with clothing made of hand-woven and naturally dyed handloom fabrics. From just making kurtas and regular dresses in the beginning, the brand has slowly ventured into saris of different handloom.
“We started making clothes from one-bedroom, slowly we shifted to two rooms, and with time our whole house was filled with fabric samples. Later, we rented an apartment opposite to our flat for the business,” shares Lekhinee who adds jokingly that “we couldn’t call anyone to our house for over a year as there were heaps of clothes all over the place.”
Hetal makes the design sketches and explains them to the artisans. The karigars then send a few sample hand-woven fabrics with block prints of the design. The final product is again worked on by Hetal and her team of tailors.
“After the products are ready, we do a photoshoot of my Odissi dancer friends posing in our clothes. I think that is our main USP – relativity. We have people of various heights, sizes, and colours wearing our collection which is more about inclusivity. Additionally, we also cater to plus sizes and customise according to the needs of our customers, so they don’t have to go in search of a tailor to alter the dresses,” says Lekhinee.
While the pandemic didn’t allow people to go out and shop, online fashion brands saw a great rise in sales, notes Lekhinee. “Our turnover just rose to double from March to October last year. To cater to the incoming orders, we also added various types of artwork and hand dyeing like Bagru, Bagh, Nandana, Pharad, Bandhej, Ajrakh, Dabu, Sanganeri, and many more,” shares Lekhinee.
The mother-daughter plan to bring all handloom fabrics available in India to their platform so people can simply choose whichever fabric they want garments made of. Additionally, they also look forward to venturing into men, kids, and home décor segments in the future.
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