Fashion is a highly evolved element in the world and India’s ethnic styles outshine the rest. Be it at a wedding party or a casual get together, ethnic outfits can always stand out in the crowd. We are familiar with many clothing brands that help us to rise with elegance.
Since 2005, Soch has become a significant brand among them. It didn’t take much time for them to get elevated as people’s favourite. The exceptional quality and service led the brand to grow into 135 stores across 53 cities in India and become a well-knit online retail presence. To know more about your favourite brand, head over to the interview we prepared with Vinay Chatlani, co-founder of Soch.
Give a brief info about your company?
Soch launched its first exclusive outlet in February 2005, committed to a fashionable range of ethnic wear for women at affordable prices. Soch has had a retail presence in the country for nearly 16 years and the brand has 135 stores across 53 cities in the country and a strong online retail presence. Soch retails through shop-in-shops at Central and sells online on its website, It is also available across other e-commerce portals
What made you start your company and what problem does it solve?
It was the market readiness for an elegant women’s ethnic wear brand coupled with continued encouragement from our early shoppers that made Soch what it is today. It is a brand that thinks of its shopper and the multitude of occasions in their lives. The collection is made in such a way that there’s something for every occasion.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this?
Right after college I started a promotions company with a close friend in Miami. It did, without a doubt make me much more extroverted, and while I could never say I had a horrible time working for some of the best clubs, bars and lounges in Miami, there was a grind that also prepared me for the “adult me”. I joined the family business as soon as I got back to India, which predominantly revolved over retail with some exposure to our exports and real estate companies. Soch started it’s first EBO store a year later, and that has been my baby ever since.
I recently started a company that does design and execution for retail stores. We also supply static and digital signage, and do customized OOH campaigns for brands. Over time Rush Productions will be a larger umbrella of products and services that cater primarily (but not only) to the retail sector.
Where is your company based? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are based out of Bangalore. The heartland of cosmopolitan culture dipped in traditional elegance. When I started off Soch I had a diversified customer base that gave me a glimpse of the brand’s expansion trajectory into other cities. We are the strongest in the South with approximately 36 stores in Bangalore alone.
As a founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
As one of four founders, and with the support of an extremely experienced upper management team, I can safely say we assist and advise each other to the point where I don’t think I am paranoid about anything. I do, however, have a tendency to think too many steps ahead with multiple permutations of outcomes and try to be ready for them. Truth is it helps sometimes to be prepared, but it does take up mind space. I am (barring dire situations) able to switch off when I finish with work at night. With that said my day does start early so I make up for the time that I might need to dwell on things.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
My competitors are brands operating in the ethnic wear space with diversified offerings. Branded players would of course be looked at as more direct competition. I do feel however, that in the branded space all the larger players have carved out their own niche. That actually helps many times when we are located in the same zone or same high street. The customer loyalty that keeps our customers hooked to Soch, this sets us apart from others. Soch customers look at the brand as they go for a wardrobe refresh, no matter what the occasion.
I strongly feel that your largest competition is always you. Of course take stock of what the market is up to, but find your niche and then just try and outdo your previous self over and over again.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a founder and how do you manage it?
Personally it varies with time. I would say when I’m very engaged with something at work it tends to be very work heavy. I do try to have time carved out for self-care with the intent to better my physical and mental fitness. Given current circumstances, I’ve dedicated most of my time to work, but I feel the time demands it. I shall make up for this lost time in spades when things normalize!
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not, then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
We have large expansion plans, along with significant improvements across our supply chain, store design and technology rollouts. Working capital for this would be needed but nothing large enough to warrant a very large dilution. With a strategic partner though, we would definitely be interested as we know it would bring in more discipline, multiple synergies, and of course, a jump in the learning curve we would otherwise have to go through.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I think many times my passion or attention to detail is confused for obsession. I think many people think I’m first a numbers guy. While analytics excite me immensely, I have always seen myself as more left brained and creative. Even most of my numbers and strategic thinking have to be put on some version of a mind map for me to visualise the steps towards a goal. I don’t think that many people know I have 3 or 4 other industries or spaces that I would be just as passionate about as retail.
What gets you excited about this company?
The opportunity to innovate and provide an increasingly satisfying customer experience. The fashion apparel space is in continuous evolution mode and this keeps things interesting for us. The professional management team we have built also excites me. I see most fulfilment of my expected potential of the brand being driven by them. Every one of them operate as if the brand were their own, and in many aspects, it is. We also love that brainstorming is not restricted to the functions related to the discussion. People get to put forward their ideas on any aspect of the business regardless of which function they reside in.
Our technology roll out plan for the next year definitely excites me. I would just leave it at that and let the excitement on the consumer end happen by experience.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I am usually up at 5:30am and dedicate 2 hours towards my self care. I journal, meditate and do some breathing exercises. I then either walk while listening to audiobooks, or work out at home.
The next few hours are dedicated work time where I am able to attain flow fairly quickly since it is still the start of the day, I have gotten my dopamine rush, and have no disturbances with phone calls. I am extremely productive in these 2-3 hours.
I then get ready and head to the office, although sometimes I work from home if most of it just involves video conferencing calls. At the office I like to have my day time blocked and stick to it most often, but the nature of the business often calls for changes to be made. I usually go on till the point where I don’t think I’m adding too much incremental value with my time. Honestly this can vary from 6:30 to 10:00pm, but on average I’m back home at 7:30pm.
Post that till 10pm is my wind down time. Whatever it is that helps me kick back.
Long story short. Workaholic? Guilty.