The three sisters – Bushra Shakeel (32), Sadaf Shakeel (30), and Nida Sabahat (27) always wanted to start a company together since childhood, and that dream finally materialised in the pandemic. They launched Affordly, a fashion portal for ethnic clothes and accessories, in April under their company, 3 Comp Labs India Private Limited. This week, they will unveil a new festive collection titled Apsara, of silhouettes fashioned from organza.
“We used to discuss the company names and what we wanted to sell. Once while eating Maggi with Lays chips, two of us had a Eureka moment, and we decided to open a kiosk selling this near a university. Later, we wanted the same setup to sell clothes. But how, when and what kind were questions that kept our project on hold for years,” shares Sadaf, a Delhi-based lawyer.
Making the most of the lockdown phase, Bushra, who is based in the US, laid out the plan. “Owing to the risks associated with the pandemic, people were turning to online shopping. We saw this as a fruitful opportunity to try our luck,” Sadaf adds.
The trio grew up wearing clothes stitched by the local tailors. “Women in our house wore salwar suits or saris, and would visit the market, choose the fabrics and get these tailored. Therefore, we know that a lot of dresses that are sold at whopping prices can be made affordable, keeping the profit margin,” she adds.
However, Nida, who is also a practising lawyer, doesn’t want Affordly to be typecasted as a virtual market place welcoming other brands. “That’s the main difference between Affordly and other e-commerce websites. Our main goal is only to make fashionable ethnic wear affordable for our customers, and generate employment for our female artisans and workers.”
From owners to packers, Affordly is an all-women team, with a core team of nine, who are responsible for procuring materials, designing, conducting quality checks, and managing the collection. Nida says, “The team also does quality assurance before packing any order. Moreover, we are not just the sellers, but also manufacturers. Since we are at a nascent stage, fulfilling the growing demands can be overbearing, therefore we also source products from local artisans and home-grown manufacturers. While choosing the manufacturer, emphasis is laid on the kind of fabrics being used, the quality of tailoring, and the neatness of the embroidery, especially if it’s handmade. Trust is built over a period of time, and we are quite confident that Affordly will soon become a trusted brand for ethnic wear,” says Sadaf.
In a nutshell
From owners to packers, Affordly is an all-women team, with a core team of nine, who are responsible for procuring materials, designing, conducting quality checks, and managing.