Bella Kinesis: Shaleena Chanrai and Roshni Assomull
The former Vogue fashion photographer discusses creating a product women will love whilst helping create female entrepreneurs in India
Name: Shaleena Chanrai and Roshni Assomull
Company name: Bella Kinesis
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 11/12/14
Tell us what your business does:
Bella Kinesis is an ethical sportswear brand for women. For each item of sportswear we sell, we fund a business education for a woman in rural India.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My business partner and I have different body shapes. We started getting active around the same time and when we went shopping together for workout clothes, we found that there was a lack of fun, functional and well-priced sportswear in the market for women of all sizes.
Concurrently, we were both spending a lot of time in India and were appalled by the never-ending cases of violence against women in the newspapers and wanted to address this issue. We wanted to create something that inspires and empowers both ourselves and women worldwide.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We conducted research on the UK sportswear market and saw that there was an increasing trend in the number of young women working out. We also ran a survey asking women about what they looked for in sportswear.
What were you doing before starting up?
I studied photography & graphic design at Savannah College of Art & Design in the US and then moved to India where I got an opportunity to work for Vogue.
After I left Vogue, I worked for one of the top fashion photographers in India, but eventually decided to come home to London and start my own thing.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I've always wanted to work for myself, but initially I thought it would be in photography running my own studio. I always knew I had creative skills but it wasn't until we started developing the idea for Bella Kinesis that I realised I also had business skills.
How did you raise the money?
My business partner and I invested our savings into the business. We needed more funding to complete our manufacturing order so we applied and were granted finance from Start Up Loans.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We design and manufacture women's sportswear and sell it through our own website. We plan to open a physical retail location as our start-up grows.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
We chose to do our manufacturing in the UK as we were inexperienced in the garment business so wanted to learn about the process firsthand.
It was really difficult to find a suitable manufacturer in the country for our specialised stretch clothing. Dealing with factories is always difficult as there are constant delays and setbacks. We gradually learned how to cope with these delays and realised that they were the norm in the business.
What was your first big breakthrough
Our first sale! Once we went live, there was massive spike in hits on the website. It's really fun to track how customers interact with the website. We're now trying to learn as much as we can about e-commerce to improve our user experience.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Keep taking small steps forward, you'll eventually get there and in the meantime be patient and keep a calm head.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
I would like Bella Kinesis to be a household name! I want our brand to be known for great products, great ethos and great service.