The Weekend Chef – Anuj Mundhra

If Anuj Mundhra went from his humble beginnings as a salesman in a saree showroom where he earned a paltry monthly salary of Rs 1,400, to building a clothing brand with turnover of Rs 46 crore , it’s simply because of his hard work and a never-say-die in the face of adversity.

“I have followed a code in my life,” reveals Anuj, founder of Jaipur-based Nandani Creation Ltd and promoter of the Jaipur Kurti brand, “(which is) either forget everything and run, or face everything and rise up” .

Anuj Mundhra launched his e-commerce portal in 2012 and was among the first entrepreneurs to take advantage of the online market (Photos: special arrangement)

He chose to do the latter and was always a fighter. Anuj interrupted his studies after class 12 and started doing various jobs. He worked in the saris showroom from 2001 to 2003 and then joined a textile trader in Jaipur.

He took samples of merchant’s clothing fabrics from textile stores in major cities to obtain orders.

“I was then barely 21-22 years old, I weighed 40 kg and I carried a load of 20 kg on my shoulders. I would go from store to store in cities like Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai to get orders for him,” recalls Anuj, 40.

In 2004, Anuj took his first big step by taking a loan of Rs 50,000 in his mother’s name and starting a screen printing and screen printing unit. For many years he did dyeing and printing work in Jaipur.

Eight years later, as India took nascent steps in digital retail, Anuj took the biggest leap of faith in 2012 after seeing the billboards of e-commerce portals Jabong and Snapdeal during a visit to Delhi, and booked his now popular domain

The idea was to sell ethnic clothing for women online under the brand name Jaipur Kurti, and the movement caught on, although there were difficulties at first.

Anuj faced the first challenges of e-commerce when 60% of the clothes sold would be returned

Anuj says Indians have got used to shopping online now, having understood its convenience and importance. The heavy discounts offered by the portals and the return/exchange policy have also changed the shopping experience of customers over the years.

But that was not the case in 2012, when people’s confidence in buying online was very low.

“They had no idea about the size chart and always wanted to feel the fabric. Sometimes 60% of the clothes sold were returned,” says Anuj.

But despite the challenges, he was among the first players to see the potential of e-commerce and jump on the digital bandwagon.

Currently, Jaipur Kurti ranks among the top ethnic clothing brands for women in the online market.

Most of their sales take place on online retail sites such as Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra, Snapdeal, Nykaa, Ajio, Paytm, Tata Cliq, Meesho, Limeroad and a small percentage also on their own portal.

The first-mover advantage propelled his fledgling business to enormous success.

Its owner company Nandani Creation, which started its journey in 2004, was launched as Nandani Creation Private Limited in 2012 with Jaipur Kurti as its brand in the clothing market.

In the very first financial year of 2012-2013, the company recorded a huge revenue of Rs 59 lakh. In 2016 it was listed on the NSE (National Stock Exchange) under the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) platform and in 2021 it moved to the main board of the NSE.

Nandani recorded revenue of Rs 46.10 crore in the 2020-2021 financial year and aims to touch Rs 60 crore by 2023. “By 2025, we expect our business to be worth Rs 500- 800 crore,” says Anuj.

Interestingly, now that everyone is on the online retail bandwagon, Anuj is bucking the trend and investing heavily in offline retail stores. He opened the first brick and mortar store in 2018.

They now have five stores, four in Jaipur and one in Sri Ganganagar. From online to offline, the company’s strategy is both bricks and clicks, as Anuj believes this will be the future of retail.

Anuj thinks bricks and mortar purchases will get a big boost

Anuj follows his intuition again and develops his business offline. He is confident that offline shopping will revive in a big way.

According to Anuj, during the pandemic, commercial real estate had reached an all-time high and therefore he thinks it is a good time to buy, rent or lease shops in prime locations.

“We are now in expansion mode. By 2025, we plan to open 100 stores across the country that would be company-operated or franchised,” says Anuj.

They also try to reduce reliance on third parties by reducing the ratio of sales through other e-commerce sites.

“We have created a database and a loyal customer base, so we are now in a good position to grow the business on our own portal,” says Anuj.

He speaks fondly of his staff of 350, whom he considers family, and says their numbers will increase as the company grows.

His own immediate family and close friends, despite all odds and adversity, supported him through thick and thin.

His family was actively involved in his business. His father Dwarka Mundhra takes care of the company’s accounts. He had previously worked in a transport company as a senior accountant.

His mother Sunita Mundhra occasionally accompanies him to the factory. He draws great strength and motivation from her. “Son, you have nothing to lose, keep trying, because if it works, it will be good, otherwise things will stay as they are,” she told him.

“I have had many lows in my business and one of the biggest hits came in 2010 when I received a huge order from a famous chain store. But the order was rejected and I was very in debt,” says Anuj.

He had invested Rs 60-70 lakh in making the clothes, but when the order was cancelled, he had to sell the clothes at a pittance. He lost hundreds of thousands of rupees in this case alone.

Although he was discouraged, he could not feel sorry for himself as he had responsibilities towards his family.

He was also married at the time to Vandana Luthra, a fashion designer. His wife was a pillar of support. And he persevered.

Anuj has launched a premium brand “Amaiva” which will only be available at company-owned outlets and on its website

When the company was listed on e-commerce sites Jabong and Snapdeal, it began selling in-house-made clothes online, which changed its fortunes forever.

Now the company has progressed to have a design studio and production house with a team of expert designers, who work under Vandana’s guidance.

With contemporary and ethnic designs, the clothing line includes women’s kurtis, dresses, suit sets, kurta, palazzo, skirts, salwar suits, dupatta, tops and pants among others.

Seizing every opportunity head-on, it had started manufacturing N95 masks during the pandemic with the brand name “Value Plus”.

Although Nandani Creations was named after his niece Nandani, the name of his high-end clothing brand “Amaiva” was coined from the names of his daughter Amyra and his wife Vandana.

This premium brand will sell exclusively through its retail stores and website. The brand is said to offer a range of fashionable dresses and tunics, jackets, tops, kurtis, jumpsuits, bottoms, suit sets and dupattas.