Her vision is for the brand to be at par with international competitors in the athleisure space and also grow beyond its association with Yuvraj Singh as a standalone style statement with a strong aspirational value.
Shazmeen Kara is the Founder & CEO and overall brand head for YWC (an initiative by Yuvraj Singh).Her role includes overseeing the retail strategy of the brand as well as ensuring the design ethos of the collections is in sync with the ideology behind it. YWC stems from a deep sense of social responsibility. Yuvraj Singh is the key visionary of the brand and this is an important initiative for him to ensure sustainability for his cancer awareness foundation – YouWeCan. However, unlike other brands strongly associated with a cause, the fashion aspect for YWC has been deliberately been nurtured by Shazmeen to maintain a balance between a strong design sense and sensibility towards the ultimate goal and cause.
BW Disrupt Interacts with Shazmeen Kara and spoke to her.
Explain your business model.
YWC is an athleisure wear brand offering premium apparel of the finest quality exuding the personality of our founder – Yuvraj Singh. The idea behind YWC is to link it back to the YouWeCan Foundation for cancer awareness and prevention. The foundation, established in 2012 is doing exemplary work in funding cancer detection and treatment for the underprivileged and rehabilitation of cancer surviving children among many other initiatives. Our funding for this was either direct or via donations. The idea was to make the foundations work financial independent and self sustaining. Hence YWC-clothing brand supports the foundation actively with sales revenue going directly to the foundation. The other aspect of the business model right from the launch was to make it a viable fashion retail brand.
We have a strong partnership with Suditi Industries which exclusively designs and manufactures the collection. The collection itself has expanded manifold since its launch in 2016. We now have several SKUs in men’s, women’s, kids’ apparel and accessories. We have also recently introduced sports equipment as part of the label.
Is it available for both – Online & Offline?
The distribution of YWC – clothing brand is multi-channel including a big focus on online sales via our own e-retail stores – www.ywcfashion.com as well as via our e-commerce partners – Jabong & Myntra. Offline we have our flagship store in Varanasi and one coming up soon in Chandigarh, shop-in-shop model across all Central stores PAN India as well as over 100 other multi-retail touch points in metros and mini-metros.
What are your expansion plans?
We are rapidly expanding our presence further. We look forward to having more stores in key retail locations again looking at a mix of self-owned, multi brand and shop-in-shop models. As we are bullish about our expansion but not foolish so we will expand very strategically.
How Yuvraj Singh is helping the brand?
Yuvraj Singh is not just a name and face attached to the brand. The entire ideology and ethos of the brand stems from his DNA linking back to his foundation related work. The connection is there across all aspects of the brand and he is deeply involved in the look and marketing of it as well. His life motto – Live, Dare, Inspire is visible across our key apparel SKUs. Yet he didn’t want YWC to be dependent only on him but as an independent athleisure brand. A lot of our sales today are due to our product design and the quality with Yuvi’s involvement being an added attraction.
What have been the biggest achievements so far?
Given our grown-in product range and availability, it is sometimes hard for us to keep pace with demand. The brand was launched in September 2016 and we already have an extremely strong online and offline presence. The customers have shared a very favourable response with many of them being repeat purchasers. We have priced our products well, making them accessible to a younger millennial audience yet not losing its premium look. The brand is not only meant for Yuvi fans but a serious fashion label with a marketing strategy beyond being driven by his personality. The brand has already launched four collections so far which are extremely strong in design and variety. We recently also introduced kids apparel, accessories and sports equipment. We also have our gold collection which is the more expensive range and has limited edition items on it.
What are your growth plans?
We want to become a complete fashion retail brand across all key categories to give a holistic shopping experience both online and offline. We intend to have more self-owned stores across key high street and mall locations PAN India in the near future as well as consolidate our strategic partnerships already in place with Jabong, Myntra and Central before we move international.
Any exclusive update which you want to announce in coming 2-3 months?
We are in the process of finalizing a new exclusive range of YWC jewellery and perfumes. The sourcing has been completed and we are currently finalizing the packaging and distribution to be launched in the market this summer.
Does the brand cater to both – men and women? How many product categories are available as of now?
We have over 600 SKUs split between our men, women and kids categories. The brand equally caters to men and women. The recently launched spring summer collection is in fact very strong with its women’s collection. Usually people limit their sense of athleisure wear to t-shirts and track pants. We have really stretched our creativity and experimented with new fabrics and designs to curate looks that could work for work, fitness and parties.
What is the starting and exiting price?
All our products range roughly between INR 599-5000. Gold collection goes up to 30k.
What has been your contribution in YWC’s growth?
I feel like I am living and breathing with this growing organism called YWC every day of my life. Also, spearheading the YouWeCan Foundation gives me a unique perspective of being a social entrepreneur creating cross viability between Yuvraj Singh – the brand, the cause and the fashion label. All three co-exist beautifully. It has been a grueling and challenging journey. Most serious retailers consider a celebrity-led brand to be limited and niche. But I am very confident about our product and it speaks for itself. Today we have the best retail partners, a great stream of online sales and a growing brand all of which make me very proud to be an integral part of the YWC growth story.
Source: BW Disrupt
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