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A conversation with the trailblazers at Bharatsthali on their journey, success and making sarees modern!

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 23 March 2018, 08:11 Hrs
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In the warp and woof of sarees, Gogna family aims to weave and interlock the socio-economical fabric of India.  We talked to the power family behind the origin of Bharatsthali-‘Live with Traditions,’ where handloom and authentic saree find a place to thrive and strive.  We meet at Bharatsthali’s Panchkula office, where the husband-wife duo-Sumati and Pulkit Gogna are present with the co-founders, their parents-Mrs. Veena and Mr. Om Prakash. As we arrive, the family is discussing the latest photo shoot of recent Pure Linen Ikkat saree.



With the co-founders of Bharatsthali, we get to analyse and explore the cultural drape! Here is an unedited and candid excerpt of our tête-à- tête with the family.



Why sarees?



Pulkit:



I believe we are amidst the retail apocalypse and the only thing that can redeem the economy is our heritage. For us, going back to our roots was the first step. A saree, for us, is more than just a fabric. It is our cultural representation of the global crowd. You can wear a salwar suit or a gown but drape a saree and you have the bearings on being an Indian. It is our signature and it seemed like the perfect idea!



In the world of all-rounder bots, how do you justify spinning wheels and handwoven fabrics?



Sumati:



People still ask us why a handloom raw silk saree is priced such and I am tempted to take them to the places Pulkit and I wandered through. It might be a downward spiral for the weavers and artists today but they won’t trade their skills for anything in the world. They can choose to migrate and work for a living but they won’t, for, they respect their lineage.



Mrs. Veena:



... (Pensively) And don’t you think it is quite impossible to substitute the human touch with a machine? The efforts and perseverance that it takes to bring a saree to life are breathtaking. It is almost miraculous like a birth. (She hasn’t said a single word until now and we are glad that she has chosen to speak).



I believe that with everything becoming so virtual and machinised, people crave for the physical and human experience. The raw texture, the smooth feel and the vibrant colour, a handloom saree is not just a saree but has a story to tell.



So, how is it looking from here?



Mr Om:



While the offline retail business is quite fast-paced in terms of customer retention, we can never get off the clock here. We can’t afford to have our marketplace go offline. The data security and technical architecture, everything has to be in sync and aligned to maintain an integrated digital presence. Besides, logistic channels are also instrumental in paving the way. We can’t have ‘out of stock’ products. Our handloom sarees are exclusive. The patterns are intricate and the weavers take a week to craft one. In a digital business like ours, this needs to straighten out as well.



How are you aiming to build customer into your brand?



Mrs Veena:



Our drapes are directly sourced from the weavers all over India.  Be it workwear, daily wear or specials, our sarees are the answers to the sartorial statement of today’s women. Whether our customer is looking at traditional fashion or wanting to recreate a preppy chic look for herself, we have exclusive Indian sarees that are crafted to cater to different style choices and preferences. We are delivering -the best-handcrafted memories to our customers. The stories, which have a tangible aspect to them and we are quite proud of it.



Pulkit:



Besides, we don’t compromise on quality. Our weavers are the source of inspiration for us and it might take us five days to deliver an exquisitely handcrafted saree but we would like to be known as the one-stop destination for traditional and authentic handloom sarees.



Sumati:



We believe in transparency. There is no middle channel and we directly deal with the weavers to ensure that we practice fair trade with them. This transparency is passed on to our products and customers. They know that if it is Bharatsthali, it has to be authentic. These ethics and values come in handy to relate with our global customer base that is looking for quality traditional wear.



However, in this age when sliding into a pair of leggings and kurta or denim is relatively easier, what is your USP?



Sumati



Adaptive fashion is our mantra. A saree is a versatile outfit so; there is no relative term for size and shape. Besides, you can’t wear a denim or routine kurta to a wedding or puja. There is a reason as to why saree represents our heritage and culture. While looking up to our traditional weaving, we are thrusting new designs and innovations to the fore. We probably are the only one to bringing art silk with jute pallu and pure linen saree with ikat print. We blend innovation and tradition in terms of products as well.



Last but not least, how does working as a family seem like?



(Everybody grins)



Pulkit;



Well, can there be anything better than knowing what drives your colleague crazy? On a serious note, we work for one common cause and we agree to disagree.



Om Prakash:



We bring forth our ideas and weigh in on collectively. There is only one thing on the mind, how to make it work for customers and how to drive business back to weavers.



Veena:



I never do ‘work from home’ and I never take my work back to home. Everything needs to be settled here. Call me old school, but I want my work-life balance maintained to a ‘T.’ I still go for an evening walk and do my morning yoga. I wouldn’t miss that for the world. So, they all have to work their schedules around me. I am the boss here as well. (Giggles).



Sumati:



We share ideas and ponder. As a company that doesn’t have any foreign investment, everything needs to be streamlined and well-thought for. We might not go into an expansion mode overnight, but we are sure of the dent we are about to create on every day and exclusive wear.



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