Killing Hydrophobia

At Praia Couture, a fashion swimwear label that mainly exports its products to Europe (besides selling in the domestic circuit), Priyanka knows how to sell Made in China, Brazil and Indonesia in the First World!

Neha Dewan | March 2016 Issue | The Dollar Business

Killing Hydrophobia Priyanka Desai, Founder & Creative Director, Praia Couture

Priyanka’s biggest learning moment came when she designed only for small sizes. “The sizes that I made were XS, S and M. I naively wondered why anyone would need something bigger! And the whole project tanked! Then I conducted a research with about 1,000 women and realised that the reason my first collection tanked was that the swimsuits were cut in such a way that only thin people looked good in them!” she vividly recalls.

She changed her entire pattern-making since then to suit plus size beach wardrobes. Her company has its designs conceptualised in Goa, and crafted in Bali or Brazil based on the style. “Swimwear industry in India is so latent that people do not realise the potential. It is more than a $200 million industry,” she avers.

TDB: It has been only one year since you started. How did the concept of Praia Couture take shape?

Priyanka Desai (PD): I was working in media prior to this for about 6-7 years and my mother owns a lingerie store in Pune. So, all I did after my school days was to go to the store and help her around. Later, I wanted to do something related to my mother’s business, but I didn't just want to stick to lingerie. I started doing research in Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Bangalore, and found that there were no swimwear brands here apart from the flimsy Chinese ones. I found that either they were really low quality items or very exorbitantly priced stuff. This is where I found a gap. Our prices start at Rs.1,200 and go up to Rs.2,400.

TDB: What about your sourcing strategy? Do you import your raw materials?

PD: It depends on the kind of styles that I am making. For instance, if you want floral prints in bright colours, then you'll only get it in Indonesia. China has a lot of solid colours. They have florals as well but they're not classy enough. I mainly source from Indonesia, Brazil, and China.

TDB: Which are your export markets at present? killing hydrophobia

PD: I currently have three clients – one is in Czech Republic and two are in France. Apart from that, Spain and East Europe have also become hubs, so I will look into those markets in the future.

TDB: What challenges do you face as a woman entrepreneur?

PD: The swimsuit industry right now in India is a challenge in itself. People don’t take me seriously as they don’t understand the business. The stigma around women’s bodies in India is so big, it's a hurdle for my own business. My motto of the business is – Each Body, Beach Body. That perception will take a lot many years to come, but I won’t give up.

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