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YWC FASHION CEO SHAZMEEN KARA

— JASMEEN DUGAL

NGO YouWeCan took birth while cricketer Yuvraj Singh was undergoing treatment for cancer. He shared his experience on social media, sending a clear message: FIGHT. This message is the threshold of the organisation. Today, YouWeCan focuses on creating awareness about symptoms, chemotherapy and helping cancer survivors. YWC Fashion — a sports lifestyle brand — is the extension of YouWeCan; a percentage of the revenue of all sales is used for YouWeCan. In conversation with CEO Shazmeen Kara.

 

You have a rich work experience of fourteen years. What inspired you to launch YWC with Yuvraj Singh?        

 

I have always admired Yuvraj Singh for his work with his cancer foundation. I wanted to help him in this extremely noble venture for which I used to try to find innovative ways to raise funds for the foundation. We then came up with the idea of creating merchandising for the foundation — garments is something that we thought to start with. Yuvi understands fashion and he creates his own trend. After all of these suggestions and ideas that we exchanged for the brand, he was convinced and excited to execute the same and that is how YWC and I came together.

 

What is your core vision for this brand?

 

My vision for YWC is to be at par with International high street brands in the athleisure space and also grow beyond its association with Yuvraj Singh as a standalone style statement with a strong aspirational value. I really want this brand to provide every individual exactly what they're looking for in terms of clothing and comfort. And at the same time serve its core purpose to link back and work towards making the YouWeCan cancer foundation a self-sustaining entity working towards cancer prevention and awareness.

 

What is your design philosophy for the athleisure?

 

YWC is in essence — 'fashion with a conscience'. It is made in India, for the world. With modern silhouettes, futuristic designs and organic fabrics, there is something for everyone. Athleisure being the current trend globally, we have customised our designs to help cover all the verticals of every individual's day, be it the gym, a casual day out with friends or to attend an event. Our Spring Summer '18 collection shows a great assortment of designs for everybody- women, men and kids.

 

As Founder CEO of YWC Fashion. What are your role and responsibilities?

 

We started YWC with the aim to raise funds for the YWC foundation. It was a one-woman army, from being the PR and Marketing head, to looking into logistics, design and managing finances; I was doing everything. The reason I choose to do each and every thing myself is because we wanted to maximise funds flowing towards the foundation, in a bootstrapped start-up format. Though we have great support from our partners Suditi Industries, my role is to grow the brand vertically in terms of reach and horizontally in terms of product width and SKUs.

 

What is the role Yuvraj Singh plays in the brand?

 

The USP of the brand is 'Live Dare Inspire'; it is the essential story of Yuvi's life. The brand philosophy is deeply rooted in his own personal journey to fight against all odds and never give up. The core of the brand is rooted in his personal journey with YouWeCan — an NGO he setup specifically for cancer survivors and patients. Most importantly, the royalties from the sale of every product contribute to the NGO with a longterm objective to make it self-sustaining. This kind of participative CSR to involve a larger audience to support this cause is Yuvi's big vision that is very evident in his passion and deep involvement in the creation of the YWC label. All this makes YWC an aspirational, socially rooted brand where people are not just buying a product but a way of thinking, and participating in the social cause of raising cancer awareness.

 

What strategy have you developed to run a successful fashion brand that fuels his ultimate goals?

 

The ultimate goal is to create a high quality product which is appreciated by buyers. The brand will continue to innovate into new categories including sports equipment, jewellery and perfumes. All this comes together to create a brand ecosystem delivering a financial outcome significant enough to make philanthropic efforts in supporting cancer survivors and creating wider awareness. The foundation already offers financial support to treat the needy as well as regularly sets up camps for cancer detection. The steady flow of income from YWC allows for lower dependence on donations moving to a more crowd sourced format.

 

As e-commerce saturates the fashion industry, many brands are shying away from bricks and mortar. Not so for you. Do tell us about your multi layered retail approach... and what is the consumer response?

 

I still feel any retail brand envisioning Pan India outreach can't achieve this objective by an exclusively online model. We believe in combining forces and finding retail partners in the online and offline space as well as develop our own online and brick and mortar retail stores with the singular objective of maximising reach.
 

SHAZMEEN KARA
YWC Fashion CEO Shazmeen Kara
 
SHAZMEEN KARA
YWC Fashion
 
29-JUNE-2019
 
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