Social shopping is on the rise with startups like Koolkart and Klouzly gaining traction, where you can create lists of items across various e-tailers and compare and share your wanted lists with friends, compare prices across sites, and make an informed and consulted decision. Mirraw.com, a Mumbai-based startup, not only brings the social shopping experience for designer products, but also ports the ‘social’ experience to designers from whom the designs are crowdsourced.
Mirraw is a marketplace where social media aware fashion designers set up boutiques and showcase their fresh new designs to a wide audience on the web. Consumers get easy reach to designer jewellery, bags and sarees, which is the current line of products, expansion to men’s apparel and other categories for women being worked upon.
Consumers can browse through designs, mark the ones they like as their favorites, and ‘follow’ their favourite designs. These activities from all users basically curates the most popular designs. You can of course, buy any products that you like.
Using Mirraw’s social platform, designers can deliver the same experience as brick and mortar boutiques, at the same time build their brand online. They have an admin-controlled boutique on Mirraw where they can upload the designs themselves, provide writeups and discounts. They can use social media (Facebook and Pinterest) to popularize their brands, leaving operations like shipping and payment to Mirraw, to focus on their designing.
Mirraw.com also enriches the social experience by means of a couple of new initiatives on the site. For example, the Style Quiz picks up your Facebook friends (only female, as of now) and lists a few possible designs, and asks for recommendations for them that you think your friends may like. Another fun thing is This/That, that provides users a fun way of browsing through the designs, by picking their favorite out of two suggested designs. Also, any time a user likes a design or a designer adds a new design, it generates an “activity”, and the Feed tab lists all the activity happening on the site after your current browser session, so that you can see what designs people are liking, what suggestions have been made. This can be useful for buyers to tap into the action happening on the website.
Mirraw was founded in October 2011 by Anup Nair and Shailesh Jain, who worked in Microsoft, Seattle, and VMVare, Palo Alto respectively. Let us hear more details in Shailesh’s words:
PI: What was the idea behind the concept?
SJ: Since the time we had first thought of Mirraw, we have rethought Mirraw several times. However, one of the core concepts has always been access to beautiful designer products. Our selection process, filters, presentation has all been geared and driven by aesthetic appeal. We started with a strong focus on a single category essentially to fulfill this purpose. Going with a marketplace model seemed logical since we wanted the talented designers to do what they do best leaving us to focus on the e-commerce part of it.
PI: How do you source designs?
SJ: We scout the web looking for great designs and connect with the designers through their blogs, facebook pages etc. We interact with designers at exhibitions, offline boutiques and check out their collection first hand. Existing designers refer their peers and bring them onboard. We have filters on product quality, image quality etc. to ensure that the marketplace consists of only beautiful designs.
PI: How do you ensure productions of designs? Or is it completely the onus of the designer?
SJ: We do not participate in the production cycle, our designers completely manage that. An influx of orders from the site keeps the demand high and has in fact led to increased production for few designers.
PI: Why target only women?
SJ: We wanted to start with an initial focused audience and a focused category. So we started with jewelry only so as to build a specialized inventory, such that any buyer who comes to shop for jewelry finds what they need. While we have yet to go miles in this goal, we have achieved a certain level of completeness in the jewelry category and wanted to expand other categories at the same time. Given our audience of women, we decided to go with sarees and bags and will be opening up other categories in Women’s apparel and accessories. We will be expanding to Mens apparel also, but sticking with our motto of fulfilling each category as we grow.
PI: How has the traction been so far? If you want to share, any details about funding/revenues would be welcome.
SJ: We did a soft launch back in October of 2011. Since then we’ve grown to 50 designers in Jewelry, Bags and Sarees. We have about 14k facebook fans and a steady growth in the order volume. In just 20 days of launching this feature, 13000 facebook activities were published by our consumers. The great thing is that our audience loves the products that we are offering and do come back for more.
We are currently self funded. We were awarded 2.5Lac grant at TheStartupCentre by LightSpeedVentures upon graduation from the Resident Program.
By bringing together a set of great designers and their customers under one roof, Mirraw becomes the go-to place to buy the latest designs and to discover new handpicked designers. This is an environment in the making where purchase decisions are made based on games, reviews, recommendations from friends and active discovery of beautiful products rather than a passive browsing of the entire catalog. If you are on the lookout for designer sarees, bags, or jewellery, do give Mirraw a spin and sound off in the comments about the experience.