For Bhavisha Dave and Meenakshi Singh, co-founders of Capsul Collective, a regular day at work involves shuttling between their store and warehouse. The best time to catch them in action is when their new product catalogue drops in. The energy is palpable, the excitement off the charts, and it is easy to tell that a fashion movement starts brewing at The Capsul Collective headquarters.
From taking stock of the new orders to curating customer experiences, they take a hands-on approach to all the processes at Capsul. “We are constantly hustling. It’s important for us to make sure our customers get their order as soon as possible,” they say.
‘Merchants of the cool’ as the two call themselves have taken it upon themselves to streamline the streetwear market in India. There is a certain reverence in the way they talk about streetwear and it rubs off on you a few minutes into the conversation. The co-founders talk in perfect synchrony, which comes from a long-standing professional partnership and a shared passion for streetwear. Over a decade ago, the duo started their careers in the streetwear industry with Puma India. After working together for four years, they moved on to different profiles overseas and both of them started heading street fashion brands. That’s where they witnessed the breakthrough of streetwear in European countries like Berlin, Amsterdam, and Moscow. Back then, it was impossible to find the buzzy brands in India. One had to rely on heavy custom duties and inflated resale prices, they say.
In 2019, Bhavisha and Meenakshi decided to quit their jobs to bring streetwear culture to India. The craze hadn’t caught on in the country and they were advised to do something more ‘practical.’ “Tum log socks ka brand chalu karo,” was one of the recommendations. With their experience in the field, Bhavisha and Meenakshi knew better than paying attention to these unfounded opinions. Determined to bring the phenomenon to India, they tested the waters by helping Budweiser India develop their first-ever streetwear label. They roped in creators and fellow streetwear enthusiasts to create a cultural conversation around streetwear through a 12-month long campaign. In March 2019, the duo finally launched Capsul Collective’s website. Following this, they segued into impressive collaborations like the Staple Pigeon X Coca Cola drop and The Hundreds X Hard Rock Cafe drop. Three years later, they are contributing to the millennial zeitgeist with India’s first multi-brand streetwear marketplace, Capsul Collective.
Bhavisha and Meenakshi are defining the modus operandi of the generation ahead. With over 25+ hip brands in their portfolio, they have brought interesting names like Stussy, The Hundreds, and Thrasher to India. Last year in November, they opened a concept store in a 200-year-old vintage bungalow in Bangalore. The idea was to curate a range of products depicting an entire lifestyle. With Capsul Collective, Meenakshi and Bhavisha aren’t just creating a brand. They are creating a community and establishing streetwear as the “power dress-up” of casual dressing. The duo wants to take it to the next level with homegrown brands now. They want to convert streetwear into a full-blown movement in India. With our #POPxoWomenWhoWin series, we strive to amplify such tales of passion and persistence. In a recent chat with POPxo, Bhavisha and Meenakshi talked to us about Capsul Collective, the rise of streetwear culture, and its future in India. Excerpts below:
Bhavisha: I’m not really a creature of habit and like changing things up. One week, I’ll try to get up early and get in a few sessions of rowing. Next week, I’ll want to play basketball. Then for me, breakfast is really important. So hot breakfast and some me-time come next. I make my way to the store or office sometime between 11-11.30. Mornings are important for me because I like to plan my entire day.
Meenakshi: I like getting up early. Ever since the pandemic, my routine has been varying but I usually get up around 6.30 and pursue a half-hour ‘me time’ doing pranayam and yoga. Post that, I’ll open my laptop to check emails as we work with a lot of international brands and distributors. I like to make my own breakfast and then get ready to leave for the store.
Meenakshi: There is no typical workday. For the past three months, Bhavisha and I have been dividing our time between the store and the office. We have a new flagship store in Bangalore. Since its opening, a lot of people have been visiting to experience the brands that we have. So, at least one of us is at the store every day.
Bhavisha: We take stock of what new shipments are coming in and the content pieces that have to go out because, at the end of the day, we are in the business of community content and commerce. Now, because we have the flagship store, we are also focussing on crafting great experiences.
Bhavisha: Meenakshi and I have been working together for more than a decade. We used to work together with Puma in India. Then in the middle of the last decade, we moved to international shores to work with the global teams. That’s where we witnessed this whole breakthrough of streetwear. Eventually, we noticed that streetwear had enthusiasts in India as well. So we were like “okay, maybe there’s an opportunity here.” Some people knew these niche streetwear brands and they were buying products on international sites, paying heavy customs duty. We realised there was a gap and an opportunity to start something. That’s how we collaborated and decided to build Capsul.
Bhavisha: They’re extremely cool. They are all limited edition and these are logos that help you get that cultural flex. Authentic and cool—these are the two words that I’d use to describe Capsul and all brands under the umbrella. Capsul is like a candy store—we offer products that become your favourite pieces in the wardrobe.
Meenakshi: All of them have a very rebellious design language. The shock and the pleasure factor that you get after looking at or adorning one of these streetwear pieces—that remains unmatched.
Bhavisha: It has to be deciding to quit our jobs to start Capsul. Those three months of our notice period were all turmoil and excitement. People did not understand why we left lucrative jobs in Europe and came back to do this especially when streetwear wasn’t understood. So lots of interesting comments came our way when we took this quantum leap to start Capsul.
Meenakshi: Earlier, we were on the brand’s side. A lot of budgets used to be available to us. Here, Bhavisha and I put in our own savings, started this company, and had huge visualisations, aspirations, and objectives. When it comes to doing things yourself with your own money, the whole game is different.
Bhavisha: It has to be the opening of our flagship store. We opened it in November 2021, at this beautiful 200-year-old vintage bungalow in the heart of Bangalore. For me, that’s one of the biggest milestones.
Meenakshi: For me, anything new that we do is an achievement. We launched our website in March 2019 and it was an achievement. The overwhelming feeling of getting our brands on board was an achievement as well.
Meenakshi: Resilience and just the attitude of having no fear.
Bhavisha: The skill to unlearn everything I knew has helped us continue. But, I think more than skills, it’s been a journey of mind over matter. In this field, mentally you have to be strong and thick-skinned. Irrespective of the roadblocks and hiccups, we kept going because we believed in what we were.
Bhavisha: I would say, overnight success is non-existent. You have to be ready to put in the work. Also, surround yourself with mentors who give you good advice. And from the beginning, manage your finances really carefully. That’s important.
Meenakshi: It’s becoming mainstream. In the next 2-3 years, you will see a huge boom in the acceptance of streetwear fashion in India. The whole burgeoning of homegrown labels is what we look forward to as well.
Bhavisha: We’re super excited for what’s to come. We’re super excited about everybody understanding streetwear fashion. Our vision for streetwear is that it’s understood as the power dressing of casual wear. We want more and more people to shop streetwear, and buy less, but buy well. If we talk specifically about Capsul, our aim is to curate products that become conversation starters.
Meenakshi: We go out for a really good dinner. We treat ourselves on a bad day and yeah, that’s how we unwind.
Bhavika: Having a co-founder who is different from you and yet somehow aligns in the same vision is one of the best things about running Capsul Collective. We navigate both the good and bad days together.
Bhavisha Dave and Meenakshi Singh live in Bangalore. Their journey has been inspiring and wholesome. Team POPxo wishes them all the luck for their future endeavours.
Featured Image Courtesy: Bhavisha Dave and Meenakshi Singh