Interview: Life Outside the Fast Fashion Lane with The Khandwala Brothers

Interview: Life Outside the Fast Fashion Lane with The Khandwala Brothers

Feb 10, 2022
Entrepreneur Interviews
Interview: Life Outside the Fast Fashion Lane with The Khandwala Brothers

Dhruv and Shrey Khandwala, founders of D2C fast fashion brand Mesmerize, walk us through their daily lives as D2C entrepreneurs after winning millions of GenZ hearts with their beautiful minimalist designs.

Brothers Dhruv Khandwala and Shrey Khandwala are part of Nandini West Group that houses fashion brands Mesmerize and Lobaanya.

The combination of a consumer base that has adopted digital shopping and the ever-changing need to experiment with the latest fashion trend has resulted in a sudden explosion of D2C fashion brands.

Consumers are opting to shop from the comfort of their own homes, thanks to virtual dressing rooms, product videos, editorial images, 360-degree product views, customer reviews, and other enhanced content. According to a new report, as the internet reaches a larger portion of the Indian population, as many as 500 million Indians will be shopping online by 2030, up from the current 150 million.

Among the hustle is an upcoming D2C brand Mesmerize India, a fast fashion brand with young designs that caters to everyday hustlers. Mesmerize has a wide range of fashion accessories for every personality, from Millennial to GenZ.

We spoke with D2C Entrepreneurs Dhruv and Shrey Khandwala, founders of Mesmerize India, about their hustle to ace this space.

1. Do you have a morning ritual that you strictly adhere to in order to have a productive day?

Dhruv believes that avoiding smartphones and social media for at least an hour is important, whereas I (Shrey) go for a quick morning walk to organise my thoughts. This allows us to begin the day on a more positive note. One thing we both have in common is that we both enjoy some 'Me Time' early in the day to boost productivity.

2. What tools and platforms do you use on a daily basis to automate marketing, supply chain and inventory management, sales, and customer service tasks?

As a company, we rely on a variety of applications and platforms to keep things running. Our website is hosted by Shopify, which offers a variety of tools and services. We have many applications that we have added to assist with inventory and supply chain management. We also have an ERP system at Nandini West, the parent company that houses Mesmerize, that helps us with production and inventory management. We primarily use Freshdesk for customer management, but we also try to resolve a few tasks via Instagram DM and WhatsApp to provide a more personalised experience for the customer. We use Microsoft's suite of software, such as Teams, for team management and internal coordination.

"We've seen the most efficiency with these few tools and platforms, and we recommend that young entrepreneurs like us incorporate them into their management."

3. Which supply chain/marketing activities do you prioritise on a daily basis to ensure smooth operations while managing scale?

Dhruv: At Mesmerize, I am primarily responsible for the product and supply chain aspects of the company. We have to come up with innovative solutions to manage inventory as it is not easy to find a ready-made software solution for custom requirements and challenges that we face as a D2C company where we make stock predicting demand. This is an area that I always look forward to optimizing so it does not hinder us to scale. We use a cocktail of apps and in-house systems to maintain inventory in 3 stages: finished, semi-finished and raw material inventory. We also have tested and used various apps to effectively deliver our products to the consumers while trying to reduce RTO’s.

Shrey: I closely monitor performance marketing, dispatch management, and stock inventory checks, which are essential and should not be overlooked.

Check out Mesmerize website and their Instagram page for more fabulous products

4. How do you ensure that your best-selling SKUs are always in stock? Do you go through your inventory on a daily basis? If yes, how?

Dhruv: To track inventory, as mentioned in the previous question, we use a combination of online apps and in-house systems. Because we make the majority of our products on demand, our main concern is acquiring raw materials on time, which we do based on demand forecasting. I do not personally go through the inventory on a daily basis, but I am a part of the approval process when our system or team indicates that we need to reorder.

Shrey: We have a weekly process of inventory checks as we have a production unit in-house for most of the SKUs live on our website. It gives us a quick turnaround time a high level of control. For the SKUs that are more dependent on external vendors, we like to maintain reserves of at least two weeks based on previous sales volumes.

5. Which social media channel do you constantly monitor for new ideas, trends, and insights to help you improve your marketing strategies?

Dhruv: Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest are all the usual ones. Different team members explore various platforms in greater depth in order to generate ideas and inspiration. I have also looked at Twitter to get ideas not particularly constrained to marketing by following other founders, entrepreneurs & investors that share their journey.

Shrey: We are a social media brand so we keep looking for trends on Instagram and inspiration on Pinterest. However, many times trends we pick up are an aggregate of research done from many different sources by our designers. Since most of our team falls in the target demographic, that inherently helps notice them faster.

6. On a daily basis, which teams/departments do you work with? What role do you play in these discussions?

Dhruv: I am currently involved in a more day-to-day capacity at Mesmerize. Every day is different when you work in the D2C startup space. Some days, I concentrate on inventory, dispatch planning, and processes. On other days, we have marketing and campaign planning meetings. Every day is different, and I play a role in ensuring that everyone is on the same page and has the same vision for the future.

Shrey: Throughout the day, I like to maintain contact with all departments on some level. It may only be a 2-minute conversation, but I believe it is important. In particular, I keep a close eye on our customer service department to get a sense of what our customers are thinking.

7. Which books/podcasts/people, etc., have positively influenced your daily habits?

Dhruv: I follow a lot of quality channels on YouTube that inspire me to do better. I have started listening to podcasts of other founders that share their journey on Spotify as well. I am an optimistic realist by nature that helps me move ahead in tough times. I also like to read case studies on founders, read about their journey and look at their highs and lows.

Shrey: I recently have started following many like-minded entrepreneurs on Twitter, reading their raw thoughts and advice really helps. Being part of closed groups with D2C executives helps to be part of this growing community. I enjoy listening to the podcasts of MOM on Spotify as well as reading relevant trend reports from reputed sources.

8. Which platform do you prefer for expressing yourself and connecting with others?

Dhruv: This is an area where I want to improve because I don't spend much time interacting with social media on my profiles right now. I am, however, a member of several entrepreneur groups on WhatsApp and have connections in a variety of industries thanks to friends I made in London while studying Fashion Management and at SPJIMR while studying Family Managed Business. I am also a member of both alumni groups.

Shrey: I am a member of two WhatsApp groups and one Telegram group. Both have D2C brand owners or management in India, as well as some agency representatives. Every day, I spend some time reading and conversing with the groups.

Mesmerize joined hands with a 77-year-old NGO, Jai Vakeel Foundation to launch a new collection of printed fashion accessories that were digitized from the art pieces by the children with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Mesmerize has pledged to donate 10% of their revenue generated by the products in the collaboration to the Jai Vakeel Foundation.

9. Do you think it's important to unplug and enjoy some downtime from work?

Dhruv: It is extremely important. Despite the fact that we work at least 10 hours a day from Monday to Saturday, I make it a point to meet friends and spend quality time with family when I'm at home during the week. On Saturday nights, I like to unwind by going out and staying up late.

Shrey: Yes, it helps to take a break and it is very important. It helps organise your thoughts, avoid getting yourself into a box and refresh your mind. This will always improve your efficiency when you are back to work. A good and well-balanced routine. I think having some discipline for this will go a long way. Structuring your days adds up over time and will be rewarding in the long run.

10. What is the one thing you would advise future D2C entrepreneurs to incorporate into their daily routines?

Dhruv: I like to believe that everyone’s journey is different, people have their own challenges and mindsets. The only thing I would recommend is don’t be shy to follow your path and routine, while also taking inputs from your close ones on things to improve on. The only addition to this that I would mention is that don’t overdo any particular habit, just keep that in check.

Shrey: A good and well-balanced routine. I think having some discipline for this will go a long way. Structuring your days adds up over time and will be rewarding in the long run.

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