Six Yards Plus is a sustainable and versatile saree brand that is changing the way women of today perceive, consume and experience sarees. Their sarees encompass numerous motifs and draping styles that cater to every kind of woman. Six Yards Plus brings hand-made and environmentally friendly sarees from traditional styles like Kalamkari, Induri, and Maheshwari sarees to signature styles that are in-house designed.
A 100% women-run and women-owned brand working with artisans from all over the country, this cultural enterprise wants women to adorn sarees on regular days as much as they prefer them on special occasions.
Follow our conversation with founder Mrinalini Shastry as she walks us through her motivation behind this enterprise. Read on to find out how Six Yards Plus has built a name and won multiple accolades in its journey so far.
Motifs and Saree Drapes
After I graduated from the Indian School of Business, draping a saree to work was quite natural to me. I had seen my mother do it all her life. Looking around, I found women around me didn’t resonate with sarees as a regular wardrobe choice. It was something they put a lot of thought into before draping it for a wedding or a function.
I wanted to change that perception.
There are essentially two elements to a saree – motifs and draping styles. The place of origin depicts the kind of patterns the saree has. Every design has a story to tell. This combined with the hundreds of different styles to drape contains the culture of its people.
A Bengali drape contrasts an Andhra drape, both of which are extremely different from the drapes in Ravi Varma’s paintings. So I decided to factor all of this in, put my business degree to use and start Six Yards Plus to bring sarees to the day-to-day world.
More Women, More Sarees, More Often
Women should be able to classify sarees to be outfits of comfort, ease and beauty. Our target demographic aims at women older than 23-25, typically when the idea of draping a saree enters into their minds. I put no upper bar on the age because you are never too old for a saree.
The median of our target is busy, working women who think about sarees but also do not know where to begin. A lot of factors like the fabric, color palettes, motifs along with drape styles overwhelm them. Even if they eventually end up buying one, the specifications of a blouse, the underskirt plus a need for an occasion all lead to it being shelved in their cupboard forever.
These are the barriers Six Yards Plus aims to break. Women must be able to access sarees easier than ever before.
Easing Customer Choice – Walking the Extra Mile
Bridging the gap between women and sarees is made easier with the kinds of products we offer.
For instance, our product called the Saree Surprise, is a detailed questionnaire that notes down your styling and cloth choices. It then carefully curates a package of sarees based on your answers. The entire process of purchasing is now effortless for the woman who would otherwise have to browse over thousands of styles before deciding what suits her choice. It’s an entirely authentic and fun experience.
We also conduct a lot of draping workshops to ease the process of dressing up in a saree. I wanted to break the myth that a saree needs to be draped a certain way. Breaking all preconceived notions of how women must adorn their sarees makes them feel extremely powerful and confident.
Our product line Bespoke Sarees helps you design your own saree with the help of our in-house fashion experts. A personalized touch is essential if you want the product to mean something to the customer. We recently transferred a customer’s hand-made painting onto a saree for her.
Collaboration with Care
I have been a part of quite a lot of communities on Facebook for the last 10-12 years. Most people eventually moved to Instagram with their work. For me, collaboration can be with anyone who aims to promote the culture and art of sarees. It could be a food blogger who dresses up in my product, thrift stores that work towards saving the environment, or an influencer who believes in my product.
I don’t actively look for content creators but if someone resonates with the same ethos as that of my business, I would definitely hit them up to promote my products. In the end, it’s all about the authenticity in the collaboration that will lead to higher engagement.
Giving Back to the Environment
All of our products are fully hand-made. Did you know that every minute, there is the equivalent of a large garbage truck of textile waste going into the landfill worldwide? This is why we believe in extending the life of every saree to its fullest.
Did you know that a typical saree lasts for 40 years? Of course, not many use it for that long. With our initiative Dobara, we urge people to sell sarees that they no longer use. These used garments then go through a process of cleaning before they are sold to other customers. This process ensures the minimization of handloom textile wastage without falling short of the full consumer experience.
Pride from Recognition – Milestones so Far
Right from inception, every little upgrade has been a milestone for Six Yards Plus. From storing inventory in the bedroom of my house to working with over 300 artisans over the country, the experience has been nothing short of enthralling. It was really overwhelming when we won the Pink Power initiative by Inorbit Mall in 2019. We were the winners of the Digital Women Awards by She The People TV in 2021. Accolades like these helped us gain recognition. And we are tremendously grateful for the love we have received from our clients and the media.
Battling the Pandemic – Challenges of a Clothing Business
COVID-19 was a major setback for us. With no one stepping out of their homes for work or parties, it became extremely difficult to market our physical stores. So, we ramped up our website to focus on online customer traffic throughout this period.
Another challenge we constantly face is in the cultural space. My aim has been to build a profit-based company that would support local craftsmen in a just manner. We strive to achieve our goal by always being transparent about our artisans and their prices.
Hybrid all the Way, the Road Ahead
Currently, we have 3 stores in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. We also sell online on our website. Overall, I don’t want to constrain the expansion of my business in one specific direction. I will always invest where there is more consumer engagement.
The purpose is to bring together as many women as possible to believe in the saree, be it locally or globally. It’s simple really- more women, more sarees, more often.
NICEorg wishes Six Yards Plus the best of luck in their journey ahead!
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