Designer South Asian Clothing for Rent!
Borrow the Bazaar is on a mission to make everyone’s closet a little more diverse.
What inspired you to start working on BTB?
The best problems to solve are the ones you have personal experience with — where you can put yourself in the mindset of your customers and create a solution that’s truly valuable. My sister (Ruchi) and I started working on BTB because it was a problem that hit home with us. Managing two closets (one for our western clothing and one for our Indian clothing) was a huge burden in terms of cost, closet space, and time spent shopping. We really wanted a solution that would help us eliminate those problems and I can confidently say that BTB is a solution that does just that.
Were there any big surprises or challenges you encountered along the way as you were building BTB?
Working with international vendors can be a really tough thing initially. You’re working not only across two opposite time-zones but across two different business styles. For example, a lot of vendors didn’t offer contracts or invoices and those are all things we needed as a business for security and bookkeeping. Eventually everyone came around, but imagine having to solve a hundred problems like this, all while having a small 3–4 hour time window every day to do so. It was tough but absolutely worthwhile.
How has your experience, skills and competencies in Product Management helped you build and launch a business?
In Product Management, one of the first principles you’ll learn is prioritization, which goes hand-in-hand with the concept of iterative development. We started off BTB in a simple way — he prioritized getting an MVP to our customers and seeing how our market responded and what feedback they had. Based on those initial learnings, we layered in features like back-up sizing, jewelry, virtual consultations, etc. Soon, we’re excited to launch plus size clothing! This enabled us to bootstrap BTB in a way that was affordable and sustainable for growth and allowed us to eventually create an offering that was much more in line with what our customers really wanted.
What’s the biggest risk your business ever took?
The biggest risk we’ve taken is starting this business in the first place. When we started we knew there were a few businesses that had entered this space before us but failed to stay alive. We spoke to their founders to learn from them and knew early on that there were going to be a lot of challenges for this specific type of business. But they say founders are often insane optimists so we crossed our fingers and did it anyway!
What’s one thing you wish you’d done differently?
During my journey as a founder, I’ve found that having a good community of support around you is the most valuable asset you can have. You need that positive reinforcement, a sounding board for ideas, and someone with experience to guide you through the tough times. Without this, you have to do it all on your own, which is doable but you’re likely to burnout pretty quickly. This is something that I’m proactively working to create for us, through finding mentors and female founder circles to join.
The most important skills and traits entrepreneurs should possess?
Confidence may not sound like a skill but it certainly is one. And an especially important one women need to build, as we’re often lacking it because so many of us have been brought up in an environment that’s taught us to be quiet, dutiful, and people-pleasing. But having the confidence in yourself and your ideas let’s you take the risks and constant action you need to as a founder to handle the frequent failure, rejection, and nay-sayers you’re in for.
Any exciting initiatives in the pipeline?
So many! We’re launching a new collection shortly and very excited to introduce our first batch of plus-size clothing to our platform, taking the first step towards being more size-inclusive. We’re also launching an Ambassador program to enable those who love our product to advocate for us.
Have a story to tell? We are all ears! Email us at — firstname.lastname@example.org!
Products by Women is a global diverse community-led network for women in tech and business!