Last month my social calendar was chock full of South Asian weddings. With so many functions per wedding, I needed to look beyond the fashion reruns in my closet. I turned to Indus Threads to rent this beautiful Satya Paul sari. The sari has a retail price of $500, but rents for only $130. Indus Threads offers plenty of other opportunities to save big on top South Asian designers such as Ridhi Mehra, Sabyasachi, Nida Azwer, Gaurav Gupta, Elan and Karma. Variety is the spice of life. You know you’d rather wear three different outfits once for the same cost as purchasing one outfit and wearing it three times. I absolutely adore the concept behind Indus Threads. So naturally, from one entrepreneur to another, I wanted to find out how founder Sumaira Nabeel works her magic.
Q&A with Sumaira Nabeel of Indus Threads
You follow a collaborative consumption business model. Can you explain what this is and how you apply it?
The “sharing economy” (or collaborative consumption) is the concept that Uber, Airbnb and Rent the Runway are based on. It basically relates to not owning items but having access on a pay-per-use basis. In other words, consumers can rent topnotch South Asian designer clothes for four or eight days at the click of a button. Go online to reserve the outfit for your dates and it is shipped to your doorstep. All you need to worry about is your event and looking like a million bucks! After the event, ship it back to us using the envelope and return label provided. We take care of shipping and dry cleaning.
What opportunities or challenges have you encountered with South Asian designers in Pakistan and India when collaborating?
South Asian designers have come a long way in the last 15 years or so. They have a deeper understanding of not just a more universal design aesthetic but also the business side of their brands. Living in Silicon Valley, the sharing economy is second nature to me. I move around using Uber and I use Airbnb for all my travels. A big part of my communication with these designers is to educate them on the concept and bring them on board. The challenges involve making them more comfortable about how this will affect their brand.
What types of styles can renters expect? How do changing styles affect your ongoing mix of product offerings?
Renters can expect off the runway styles. The purpose of this is to make sure that individuals are able to wear fashionable and trendy clothes rather than their old stuff. We keep up with style trends so our clients don’t have to.
How has your accounting background helped you in your new startup business?
I worked with an international advisory firm for over 13 years and left as a Senior Director to start this venture. In the last few years, I primarily advised startups like ours. That experience has been very helpful as I ramp up this venture. Honestly, knowing your numbers really well in a business is always a big plus.
As a career switcher, what do you personally hope to gain from this entrepreneurial venture?
I worked in my Accounting career for a long time. Even though I was successful, I didn’t feel as fulfilled as I would have liked. Last year was a year of self-discovery. I realized that life is too short to contemplate what ifs and what haves. I took the plunge to create a service that will change the way people look at South Asian clothing. An entrepreneurial venture or a startup is truly like jumping out of a plane without a parachute to break your fall. There are new challenges every day. Every day I feel I learn something new. This also enables me to empower more women as I build my team and travel more to South Asia.
If you were to convince a customer right now to click rent, what is your value proposition?
Customers realize that they get to wear designer clothing at a fraction of the cost. They also get to try designers that they may have never worn before. Our most key value added is to never wear an outfit twice.
Any plans to offer menswear in the future?
Visit Indus Threads online to shop South Asian designer clothing for your next event!
Disclosure: I was provided the sari by Indus Threads in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.