How dance marketing helped The Indian Ethnic Co. grow by 200-300% post-lockdown
Lekhinee Desai, Co-founder, The Indian Ethnic Co shares the inspiration behind their unique way of dance marketingThe Indian Ethnic Co.
The Indian Ethnic Co, a brand that sells saris through dance videos, is close to hitting a Rs 10 crore revenue solely b...

How dance marketing helped The Indian Ethnic Co. grow by 200-300% post-lockdown

The Indian Ethnic Co, a brand that sells saris through dance videos, is close to hitting a Rs 10 crore revenue solely b...
  • Started out of a small bedroom 4 years ago, Indian Ethnic Co. owns three offices today and is growing by 200-300% YoY because of dance marketing and its ethnic products.
  • We speak to Lekhinee Desai, Co-founder, The Indian Ethnic Co. to understand the importance of developing a voice and identity on social media, benefits of being involved in the marketing process as a founder and business goals for the brand.
  • Desai also tells us the inspiration behind their unique way of marketing.
The co-founder of The Indian Ethnic Co. Lekhinee Desai has never really purchased an outfit in her life. Her mother, Hetal Desai, would visit popular exhibitions to find the best fabric in the market and stitch beautiful outfits for her. With no formal degree in fashion, Hetal continued stitching clothes and buying ethnic fabrics for her pure love for designing. Soon, the word spread and her neighbors and friends started approaching her. Four year ago, Lekhinee graduated from her business school and encouraged her mother to pursue her passion for designing. They put a team of artisians together and started The Indian Ethnic Co. in 2016 out of their bedroom. For two years, the brand just sold products through social media and in 2018, its website went live and the brand was official.

According to technopak, the total Indian ethnic wear market is valued at Rs 70,000 crore and out of this, women's ethnic wear has an 85% (Rs 59,500 crore) share in the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% till 2022. With the rising demand for ethnic wear and huge market potential for organised players, many international brands like Van Heusen, H&M, Raymond and Peter England have also forayed into the ethnic market. So, to beat these giants, The Indian Ethnic Co. came up with a unique idea of marketing. Lekhinee decided to wear her own products and dance in them to portray how comfortable saris can be, to connect with consumers on a personal level.

Lekhinee and her sister Twaraa Desai along with her childhood friends Apurva Dani and Charvi Budhdeo, are trained in classical Odissi dance forms. Lekhinee says she started dancing even before she started walking. She was also an assistant choreographer for the movie Ramleela. So, dance marketing came naturally to her and her dance marketing team. It was after Instagram introduced Reels in India that their videos started going viral. Their first reel itself garnered a million views.

Telling us how the team came up with the idea of dance marketing, Lekhinee shared, “We were going to launch our Saris. We were known for our Kurtas and our fabrics before then. We wondered, how can we really break the clutter...My friends would come for the photoshoot because we always believed in showcasing real women (not models). So one fine day, my father suggested why don’t you start making dance reels with them? Dance is such a secondary nature to you and your friends, he said and mentioned how unique it would be to see women dancing effortlessly in saris. We thought it would also be so helpful to communicate the attributes of the product itself, because the saris that we sell are 100% handcrafted. They are made from such fine fabric in Mal, Kota Doria and cotton. So, we set up a tripod and shot ourselves dancing. The first reel was shot in five minutes and it got a million views. Our collection was sold out even before we could announce our launch.”

The group’s first viral video on Instagram Reels was Kangana Re from the movie Paheli. The idea behind their dance marketing is to promote Indian ethnic culture, instil national pride and celebrate real beauty by featuring women of all sizes, age, shapes and colours. It also promotes sustainable fashion.

According to Lekhinee, it is because of their company’s relatability factor and engaging content that they’ve been able to carve a niche for themselves.

Telling us about the company's USP, she said, “I think what really separates us is the relatability factor that we've always tried to put in from day one. The idea is always to have real faces, and have real women of all body sizes and different age groups. My sister is 21. And even she wears a sari. And I am 29 and all the girls are within this range of age group. So, our videos also connect to the Gen Next of handcrafted clothing because they are not overexposed to wearing saris. We are also breaking so many stereotypes with the fact that we are young and showcasing the products in the way we are. This is not only helping us break the clutter but also helping us connect with the younger generation to adopt and wear sustainable fashion. Apart from that, the dance marketing format we’ve created, the overall industry is following that now.”

Today, the Indian Ethnic Co. has three offices and one studio. It is about to hit a Rs 10 crore revenue mark because of dance marketing and its unique ethnic products.

“When we officially started, I remember in 2018, we were doing 20 orders a week. And now we do close to 3000 orders a month, which is over 100 orders a day. That’s the kind of scale we’ve witnessed since we started. The turning point for us was the launch of the website. We started with an investment of Rs 50,000. And now we are close to touching a turnover of Rs 10 crores and we are seeing close to 200-300 times growth year-on-year since we started the website in 2018,” shared Lekhinee.

When retail outlets shut down after COVID-19 hit India, The Indian Ethnic Co saw its second phase of growth and started flourishing on social media.

Telling us about Indian Ethnic Co’s experience of sustaining through a global crisis, Lekhinee said, “Online sales boomed during the time of COVID and it has also pushed consumers to move to online shopping, even those who were not used to shopping online. We continued to advertise on Facebook and Instagram because our team is dependent on us. There are dyers, artisans, weavers -- they are all dependent on us. So, we took three orders during the lockdown and promised to deliver once it was uplifted. It ensured that all the artisans continued to get their income throughout the lockdown period. We also paid them an advanced salary so that their livelihood is not impacted. Once the lockdown opened, the artisans helped us in return. We were able to grow two and a half times in the matter of three months because retail outlets were shut. We didn’t have an office until the lockdown. In October 2020, we bought 3 offices and a studio.”

To retain these customers, The Indian Ethnic Co. plans to expand its width and the depth of the products. It ultimately aims to become a lifestyle brand that offers everything a consumer needs.

“The idea now is to create a library of sorts for all products handcrafted in India. So, currently, we have a range of fabrics, but now we want it to be a one-stop shop like an encyclopedia store of sorts, where all kinds of crafts and fabrics are available and anyone can come and shop from the Indian Ethnic Co. India has so many crafts to showcase and there are different kinds of artisans who are doing such great stuff. So, we really want the entire portfolio of everything handcrafted, that anyone can think of, to be on our website,” said Lekhinee.

The Indian Ethnic Co. is also planning to launch a new range of products for men and kids.