Alok Paul and his wife quit their high paying IT jobs to start their own business. The couple built an apparel brand Berrylush that clocks a turnover of Rs.15 crore.
It is a fairy tale love story that grew at IIM Raipur, where two young software engineers from separate Indian states joined for an MBA. After courting for a few years, the couple married in 2017, and then created an apparel brand with a turnover of Rs 15 crore last year and are approaching Rs 35 crore this year.
Berrylush was founded in 2017 by Alok Paul, 35, and Anusha Chandrashekar, 32, after they left their high-paying IT professions.
Alok says, he and Anusha noticed a void in the market for high-quality, affordable western attire. This led them to launch Berrylush, which the couple views as their first child.
The pair, who began with four machines and four tailors in a 300 sq ft facility in New Delhi, now operates from a 26,000 sq ft five-story structure in the same city, with 300 machines and approximately 65 people.
Berrylush now sells a wide range of fashionable women’s clothing, including tops, skirts, kurtas, jumpsuits, and much more.
Alok is from the Assam town of Silchar. After three years, he went to Accenture, where he worked for six months before enrolling in the MBA programme at IIM Raipur in 2013.
Anusha worked as a Software Engineer with Tata Consultancy Services in Bengaluru from 2010 until 2013.
“We just met after enrolling in the same MBA programme at the same business school,” Alok explains.
During 2013-15, the pair attended IIM Raipur for their MBA.
Alok says, “In our first year of MBA, we fell in love without even realising it.”
Berrylush has grown from a team of four tailors to a workforce of 65 individuals.
Alok explains, “Anusha likes fashion, and I’m a businessman. However, we both wanted to start our own thing.” Both found jobs in Bengaluru after earning their MBAs.
Alok joined Artoo, a startup that specialises in the digitalization of micro and small loan enterprises, while Anusha joined Deloitte.
Anusha says she and Alok worked in different companies, but there they used to meet and discuss various company ideas daily.
They married in early 2017, then quit their jobs later that year to start Berrylush.
At the time of their departure, Alok was earning around Rs 70,000 and Anusha was earning around Rs 1 lakh.
The adjustment from the security of a profession with a guaranteed salary to the uncertainty of entrepreneurship was difficult, but the pair never considered quitting up.
Anusha says, “We were so focused on developing a brand that such an idea never occurred to us.
I was so enthusiastic that I worked even though I was pregnant “
To save money on rent, they began working out of Alok’s brother’s office in Noida in the early days. He was the founder of a marketing and branding startup.
Alok explains, “Anusha’s father supported us with our initial investment of Rs 30 lakh to set up a modest warehouse in a 300 sq ft location.”.
Alok’s father had always urged him to start his own business.
The couple listed their products on their website as well as on Amazon, Myntra, Nykka, and a few other ecommerce portals.
“While working at Deloitte, Anusha had extensive knowledge in the e-commerce market. We were in charge of the website as well as the internet marketing,” Alok explains.
Alok is more interested in business, whilst Anusha is more interested in fashion and design.
Berrylush now has its own staff of designers, production, and warehouse workers who work on different floors of their five-story Noida office.
Alok and Anush additionally offer their items at a fair price for the benefit of their clients, which has been their brand’s distinctive selling point.
Alok explains that they acquire their fabrics directly from mills in order to keep production costs low. The clothing are created in-house by tailors, and a quality-control crew inspects them before they go on sale.
Anusha explains, “We have a lot of repeat customers, which speaks volumes about our quality and service.” Their products are exclusively available for purchase online.
“About 15% of our sales come from our own website, with the remainder coming from other portals,” says Alok, who hopes to boost the percentage of sales coming from their website to 50% by the end of the year. The pair is now reaping the benefits of their achievement.
Anusha exclaims, “When we first started our firm, we would even consider going out in a luxury restaurant; now, even a five-star hotel is not too expensive for us. We bought a property in Noida and now have a BMW.”