“Call me lady Ranveer Singh,” says Flyrobe’s CEO, Aanchal Saini. This zesty fashion entrepreneur has an interesting story to support the tag. In 2016, Aanchal left her illustrious law career to start Rent It Bae. Tired of the ‘I don’t have anything to wear’ sob story, she wanted to introduce a new approach to fashion. Thus, Rent It Bae became one of the first retailers to enter the rental fashion market. By 2019, Aanchal was already poised to expand and merge her brand with FLYROBE, another leading player in the rental fashion segment. Under Aanchal’s supervision, FLYROBE is now reigning numero uno in the rental fashion category in India. With an omnichannel approach, the brand is growing dynamically at a time when the fashion rental industry is projected to cross the $2bn mark by 2025.
“The world is moving towards a shared economy and here at FLYROBE we are focussing on this consumer behaviour shift,” explains Aanchal. A true visionary, she ventured into rental fashion when it was considered weird and looked down upon in India. “Would you borrow from a stranger’s wardrobe? ” was a question that most asked. Aanchal played a crucial role in changing this mindset. She marketed rental fashion as a great opportunity for those who couldn’t afford designer wear. By renting the garments, they could do it at 10 percent of the original price. This was a huge selling point. One could select from coveted designer labels like Sabyasachi, Shantanu & Nikhil, Divya Reddy, Rimple, and Harpreet Narula. With rentals, fashion connoisseurs could also go sustainable while never having to worry about repeating clothes. Aanchal unlocked the sweet spot that worked in favour of both the consumers and the environment.
Today, FLYROBE offers rental services in 30+ cities and has offline stores in Delhi, Gurgaon, and Bengaluru. Additionally, the brand has launched in-house labels called Niyoosh for women and Ekaksh for men with over 6,000 SKUs to choose from. This effectively brings down the rental cost for those who seek budget options. FLYROBE also offers a Consumer-to-Consumer service where you can register on the platform and offer your designer garments on rent.
With her innovative venture, Aanchal has been inspiring the millennial mindset by making sustainable fashion cool in India. Her vision? To have a resale market way bigger than the fast fashion industry! As someone re-shaping the fashion industry by advocating conscious consumerism, Aanchal perfectly fits our #POPxoWomenWhoWin narrative. In a recent chat, she talked to us about her entrepreneurial journey and how rental fashion is the next big thing in fashion. Excerpts below.
How do you begin your day?
I begin my day with a to-do list, prioritising the A-list things. I believe in planning and organising things ahead of time as it helps me run things smoothly.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
It’s a mix of office, stores, warehouse visits, and meetings with internal and external team members. The most exciting part of my day is visiting the FLYROBE stores, interacting with customers, and seeing my team in action.
From law to fashion, how did it all happen for you? What prompted the shift?
The problem that all women face: “My closet is full and I have nothing to wear” needed a solution. Also, the sustainability narrative with the fashion rental business was an added advantage and the need of the hour.
What went behind conceptualising the fashion rental business ( Rent IT BAE)? How did you get the idea?
At that time, the commencement approach was very narrow. I just thought of renting western wear and accessories for women as that was a problem faced by me personally and my friends. Every time I attended a party, I looked forward to wearing a new dress and it got dumped in the closet after that one-time wear. So a service where women could access fashion without facing the storage hassle and also save money was an exciting proposition. This business, in the next few years, broadened its scope when offline was added to the online service and the product category shifted to occasion wear for both men and women. The product category shift was a game changer as the real rentable asset is the heavy ethnic wear.
Would you say acquiring FLYROBE proved to be a game-changer for you?
Yes, there is no better way of running a business than being a market leader.
What would you say has been the biggest turning point in your career?
Commencing this business with my past legal experience is the greatest advantage I hold.
What has been your biggest professional accomplishment so far?
I set out to create a business that was completely new for the Indian market and consumers. There was no road map for me to follow and today, when I see organic conversions, and people being proud renters, I count it as one of my biggest accomplishments. Creating a business that is India’s first and largest rental portal, and changing people’s mindset wasn’t easy. Seeing the public embrace FLYROBE with open arms fills me with great joy and keeps me going.
What are the skills or qualities that have helped you succeed?
You can’t grow without a good team, managing them is a skill where you get an advantage of mastering all aspects of the business. This can never be a one-man show.
A mantra that you swear by in your professional and/or personal life?
Hard work, kindness and honesty. These are the three things that will get you a long way.
How would you describe your own style?
How do you envision the future of rental fashion in India?
Exponentially huge. There are many factors that are favouring the rental boom. The millennials and Gen Z shoppers are mindful of their ecological footprint. They are switching from buying to renting not just because of affordability factors but also because access trumps ownership for them. Rentals are hassle-free, save money, closet space, and the environment, and are fashion-forward.
What advice would you give to people considering a career in fashion retail?
Keeping a track of changing consumer behaviour and always learning and adapting to the industry shifts. It is of utmost importance to listen to your customer’s needs and try to fill that gap.
And lastly, how do you unwind?
Spending time with friends and family. A good Netflix binge and travelling!
Aanchal Saini lives in Delhi. Her journey has been awe-inspiring. Team POPxo wishes her all the luck in her future endeavours.
Featured Image: Aanchal Saini