Story of Hari Mishra, Ankit Rajput, founders of Rs. 20 cr company who ate one meal a day, slept on floors

Poptailor Founder story

No matter how many times you fail, if you never stop chasing your dream, you will achieve what you always wanted. Hari Mishra, an IIM Ahmedabad graduate and Ankit Rajput, a computer science engineer from Amity University, Noida, failed many times but never gave up on their dreams.

Failure comes for a good change

Hari and Ankit started a business of bootstrapped custom clothing brand and design studio ‘Poptailor’ in Mumbai in 2016. However, these entrepreneurs ran out of money and stepped down with all their funds i.e. Rs 25 lakhs within a year. They worked hard in converting customers over to their clothing design studio but could not make it because of the long purchase process.

Because of this loss, they faced challenges and started living with their friends, sleeping on floors, and having a one-time meal a day. In fact, two out of four partners quit the business, wherein Hari and Ankit had to deal with everything on their own. So, they decided to leave the dream city and move towards Delhi with a beacon of hope.

A new city, a beginning, and a new hope

Delhi brought delightful days for these entrepreneurs. Before that, they, faced challenges in Delhi – from staying with some friends to cutting their expenses. Fortunately, this struggle did not last for long.

Nona Lifestyle is their company in Gurugram which is based on the B2C model. During their struggle phase, these entrepreneurs noticed the challenges faced by startups, hotels and even large corporatesto source uniform and other items of clothing for their employees. So, they decided to tap on the B2B business from their old B2C business.

In an interview, Hari told, “Besides local traders and manufacturers, there was no organised entity serving this need for business. This provided an opportunity for us to become an organised player.” Then, they started working upon their new plans. Right from visiting textile markets to loading and unloading and transportation, everything was done by them to save expenses.

Ankit said, “To start something like this, we realised we needed to have strong cash flows, as B2B required huge investments for purchasing raw materials. So, we borrowed funds in a personal capacity to buy raw materials.”

The first step towards success

The duo came up with a new brand name ‘theStyleWorx’ under their parent company Nona Lifestyle. ‘theStyleWorx’ started offering basic quality workwear at a minimum cost of Rs 150 per t-shirt. They also distributed free design support to customers to bump up their brand reach through employees’ uniform.

Then, their first breakthrough came. OYO, largest & fastest-growing hospitality, placed an order of 70 t-shirts. Now, ‘theStyleWorx’ has many renowned clients like Coca Cola, Zomato, TikTok, Delhivery, Bayer CropScience, Urban Company, Chaayos and Denso.

Hard work and patience of duo paid off. Today, they have a company of 40 full-time employees and 50 factory workers. On this note, Ankit informed, “Once our business started growing, we realised we needed a team to support our operations. Creating a good quality team was a challenge as we could pay only small salaries. Despite this, we put a team together and started working out of a co-working space at Janakpuri.”

Expansion of the brand’s portfolio

Nona Lifestyle, now, has three brands under it. They are now planning to launch customised t-shirt delivery in 24 hours in Delhi-NCR market under this brand. One of them is StyleWorx, the other two brands are Limone Fresco and Harold Meagan.

Limone Fresco is based on a B2B model which deals with soft furnishing products such as bedsheets, towels and comforters for co-living spaces, hotels, hostels, hospitals, and restaurants. Meanwhile, Harold Meagon is a B2C brand of luxury clothing range that targets customers who follow the latest fashion trends.

Today, they have over hundred customers in countries i.e. India, UAE, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the US.

Becoming an establishing brand

Nona Lifestyle including their brands – theStyleWorx, Limone Fresco and Harold Meagon – has a turnover of Rs 20 crore in 2019-20 with a growth rate of 160%.

As per Hari’s believes, Nona Lifestyle is honestly priced, more flexible, and adaptive to market dynamics as they work on customer needs with a skilled team to carry out operations. It has two manufacturing units – one is in Gurugram and the other one is in Ahmedabad. This follows an inventory-light model and sources of raw materials based on orders.

Nona Lifestyle is competing with established brands like Raymonds and Mafatlal along with local traders.

New plans for a new pandemic situation

In the coronavirus pandemic situation, Nona Lifestyle focussing on anti-bacterial, fire-resistant, and hygienic products. In fact, it ensures its products are completely safe as they follow the sanitation process strictly in its manufacturing units.

The duo is also planning to come up with rental business for small organisations under their Limone Fresco brand which will provide sanitised beds and bath linen.