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Hush Hush, No More : Zivame girl, Richa Kar brings revolution in lingerie shopping for Indian Women

The ‘one size, one style – fits all’ necessary purchases were usually found at the local market shop, and bundled into a discreet brown paper bag. Until one young engineer-turned-MBA decided to shake things up a bit, using the Internet as her tool.

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Zivame is probably one of those ventures in today’s times, that needs no introduction. An online lingerie stop shop, Zivame is a very bold and a smart step, taken by Richa Kar. Startups are all about solving a problem faced by the masses or enhancing an existing solution and this one is also inspired by a prevalent issue—women having to face embarrassment and unwanted attention for something as simple as buying lingerie from shops and stores. In my own experience, Until I chanced upon the vast knowledge in the form of the internet, I never knew that bras had specification called cup sizes and that it could make a huge difference in our comfort. During my teenage years we bought them based on the number size alone. And sometimes the shopkeeper would ‘guess’ the size based on his mental assessment of our ‘frontal’ view. Humiliating remarks from the opposite sex and harassment uncalled for made women apprehensive and skeptical about shopping for undergarments. I would not want to deny the fact that men were considered ‘healthy’ shoppers for lingerie to get lingerie for their wives and girlfriends.

Richa’s Zivame was conceived as a fix to this matter. Through her bold initiative, she was keen to ease the shopping experience for intimate clothing, succeeding at it. Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a wide variety and more than 5000 styles, 50 brands, and over 100s of size to cater to the needs of women. Zivame has now become a household name with girls and ladies—not just for its mind-boggling range of clothing, but also for the quality and durability it guarantees.

About Richa Kar – Zivame Founder

Richa Kar is the CEO and Co-founder, started Zivame in 2011 alongside her husband, Kapil Karekar. Richa’s story is one of the rare entrepreneurial success stories in India. To set up a business in an industry as personal as lingerie and disrupt it, is a commendable feat. Zivame is probably the first in the online lingerie platform in India!

Zivame owner Richa Kar was born in Jamshedpur and comes from a conventional family. Richa Kar completed her engineering from BITS, Pilani, followed by her management studies from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in 2007. Later, she worked for SAP Retail Consulting during which she found herself working for the famous lingerie company Victoria’s Secret. After eight years of working in the corporate sector, she launched Zivame in 2011 with Rs 35 lakh that she borrowed from her friends and poured her entire saving into it. Richa’s first client was a man from Indore who bought materials worth Rs 7,000 and from then there was no stopping! Since the inception of Zivame, it grew from a small firm to a company of more than 200 employees in only five years. With her dedication toward her idea and work, Richa built Zivame which is now worth more than Rs. 681 Crore.

Post the launch of the website, there were questions raised on the image of Richa’s family in the society. There were a lot of people who also made fun of her business.

How the ZIVAME Idea came up?

Richa kar goes on to explain ” When I was with SAP, I got to work with a big conglomerate called Limited Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret. Here, I was surprised to see that more than a quarter of their sales was coming through their online channel. We don’t think of lingerie as a category. It’s one of the most neglected parts of the wardrobe of the Indian woman and that’s where my interest spiked and I started doing a lot of consumer research. I went to the departmental stores to actually see what was happening. I also met all the brands to understand the entire landscape. What came out from all of this was the understanding that retailers were only stocking the sizes that moved fast because of the limitation of the shelf space and in lingerie the number and sizes are much more.” The funny part of the problem is that the manufacturers were manufacturing the sizes that sold occasionally, but the stores were not stocking that product and the women of those sizes have their needs unfulfilled. So it wasn’t really E-commerce that was my first choice, it was lingerie and identifying the gap in the market and addressing it. The Internet is one of the most conducive channels and it maintains and respects your privacy because this category needs privacy. It has unlimited shelf space and it will reach out to pan India customers like no other channel can.”

ZIVAME Funding

The company had so far, raised $ 9 million from IDG Ventures India, Kalaari Capital, and Unilazer Ventures. Alongside, Zivame counts Ratan Tata as an investor. Now that is big! Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store which offers a variety of 5,000 styles, 50 brands and 100 sizes with a valuation of $100 million. The online lingerie shopping platform Zivame, claims growth of 300% yearly! The company received its first funding of $ 3 million in May 2012, followed by another funding of $ 6 million in Dec 2013 and $ 40 million in 2015.

Zivame also partnered with several media channels that launched Zivame bra advertisements that created awareness among women. Alongside, the website also provided customers with the option of returning the products as well! With time, Zivame started getting positive response from its buyers!

Zivame.com, now have more than 5 million followers and more than a million visitors per day. Her determination and non-stop hardwork has made everyone to sit up and take notice of this brilliant young lady.

According to Richa,

Worldwide, lingerie is the most exciting category in the women’s apparel segment. The Indian woman, who is more confident than ever before is indulging herself in lingerie to express her individuality. Zivame is the catalyst of this change; using technology to understand her better and providing her an unsurpassed lingerie experience.

Her focus on business could be gauged from the fact that she got married over a weekend and was back to work on Monday. Richa has shown that a potential idea will succeed if you put your 100% in it. She is an incredible source of inspiration to the women entrepreneurs and has managed to change the consumer experience on a huge scale. People who made fun of her idea are her biggest admirers today.

So, If you have zeal like Richa Kar, you can achieve anything and everything!

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