Heart Up My Sleeves – Taking the Fashion World by A Storm

Riya Khattar & Chandni Khattar | Founders | Heart Up My Sleeves
Riya Khattar & Chandni Khattar | Founders | Heart Up My Sleeves

The fashion world moves by the mantra that change is the only constant. It got so caught up in the turbulence of that change that when the pandemic came knocking, it had been suddenly blown off into pieces, which nobody needed anymore.

The fashion world was utterly lost in that doom and gloom. It will never be lively and happening again. But as they say, those with a never-say-die attitude will take on the crisis with their storm of invincible willpower. And will do the unthinkable.

All it took was an idea nobody had imagined before and a spirit or two, willing to make it happen. Meet Riya Khattar and Chandni Khattar– the Founding spirits and minds behind Heart Up My Sleeves.

They started the brand smack in the middle of the pandemic while considering the value of sustainable fashion. Their brand sells detachable sleeves crafted with reusability and creativity as goals. Riya and Chandni aim to create a perfect combination of simplicity and luxury while remaining sustainable. From a fashion background, Riya understands the need to focus on fast fashion but not lose out on fresh outfit looks.

The brand started as just a hobby for the Delhi daughters of a wholesaler of Indian garments. The sisters began enhancing efforts once they noticed that people liked and believed in their idea. They roped in influencer marketing, which helped the brand grow with popular Instagram Influencers like Komal Pandey and Niki Mehra.

This led to a significant hike in sales coming from organic marketing, taking the initial investment of ₹ 10,000 on samples to sales worth ₹ 11.5 Lakhs- and that too, in a year of the launch. Platforms like Nykaa and Aza also feature Heart Up My Sleeves. With their successful and fascinating pitch on Shark Tank, the brand has caught the eyes of Sharks Vineeta Singh and Anupam Mittal.

There is a long and exciting journey ahead for the founders, dotted with expansion, exposure, and excitement. In an interview with Insights Success, the two charming divas talk about their fast-emerging brand for its apt edition titled ‘India’s Fastest Growing Start-ups to Watch!’

Please brief our audience about Heart Up My Sleeves, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in its catering industry.

Adding to the closet is fun, but cleaning it? Not so much. Especially when there is a lot in there that skips from ‘Never wearing that again’ to ‘I love this, I cannot throw it away!’ Guilty? It is a problem that many of us face! ‘Heart Up My Sleeves’ is a unique brand that is here to settle things down with minimalism, sustainability, and a dash of panache. We do this with detachable statement sleeves and accessories—a modern concept that is fit for transforming India and is suitable for changing your perfect fit.

We stumbled upon this solution and started the brand in the middle of the pandemic- literally while cleaning the closet. Heart Up My Sleeves offers a quick fix to any dull outfit with detachable sleeves and accessories. From sequins to frill and balloons to flair, you can find sleeves in every size, fabric, and colour for a holistic and wholesome choice.

The brand has quickly received a great response from influencers and celebrities like Neha Kakkar, Hansika Motwani, and Komal Pandey.

What makes ‘Heart Up My Sleeves’ unique is the concept of reusability, something we’ve all seen our parents do in Indian households. And there is nothing wrong with it. The pandemic brought many lessons, and sustainable living is probably part of the greatest ones. Our minimalistic approach with the reusable and detachable sleeves ensures that no outfits are ‘repeated.’

We cater to our customers with supreme quality of products. Each cloth is handpicked, and every design is born while keeping in mind the diversity in body types out there. We aim to deliver happiness at our customers’ doorsteps, which in turn has positioned us as a leader in our home-ground industry.

What other products/solutions do Heart Up My Sleeves offer, and how are these impacting the industry and your clients?

We can all agree on one thing- the pandemic taught us the beauty and importance of slowing down: not going too fast. And we think that is true for fashion as well. Fast fashion needs to slow down! A sustainable lifestyle is critical, and fashion should be a part of it. So, our focus has been towards blending sustainable plus ethical fashion with something fresh- in the form of our detachable sleeves.

Growing up in the heart of India’s fashion capital, Delhi, we understood how rapidly changing trends can be expensive and exhaustive. With that, the primary intent behind Heart Up was to bring a collectible that instantly raises the glam quotient of your attire and, therefore, entire wardrobe. Outfit repeats are a concern for all fashion-freaks and women too, and we have found a sustainable solution to that.

Our products can transform your outfit, make it go from day and night. Not just this, but our brand focuses on reducing the carbon footprint and bringing down the intensity of fast fashion shopping sprees! We also believe in promoting fashion creativity as a brand, something that people can explore within themselves with our detachable sleeves.

Oh, and we have also recently expanded our product range to invite capes and brooches that are available in many colours! Good-bye, boring outfits.

Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on the impact of the adoption of modern technologies such as AI, big data, and machine learning on the industry you are catering to, and what more could be expected in the future?

Fashion has never lagged when it is about innovation. Fashion has been the birthplace of many life-changing innovations like the sewing machine and has contributed massively to the rise of e-commerce too. And today, we can see robots, AI algorithms, and VR work wonders, from sewing and cutting fabric to predicting style trends and simulations in dressing rooms.

A range of technological advances show us how technology is revolutionizing the fashion landscape with automation and personalisation. Various brands can now understand customers better- even predict their following demands- thanks to the sophisticated data collection methods, which hint towards a fashion future, where AI is reshaping how brands tackle product designs and development.

Development and change in any industry are not a one-person battle. Fashion is a cyclical and forward-looking industry, a lot like tech, and advancements will paint a new picture for everyone involved, from designers to manufacturers and retailers to stylists. And, of course, the consumers.

Consumers today are gaining more awareness about the ugly side of fast fashion. We now have socially and environmentally conscious shoppers who embrace the rising movement of ‘slow fashion.’ The movement spotlights sustainable materials and transparent, ethical labour and manufacturing. AI and innovative technology may have a role to play in the race towards sustainable fashion.

Considering the pandemic, what challenges did you face, and how did you sustain your operations while ensuring safety of your employees at the same time?

The pandemic and lockdowns have not been easy for anyone. For us, too, they brought a tsunami of challenges.

Our business experienced a massive impact. There was a hike in prices across every sphere due to a shortage of workers. The prices went up from the materials to the wages and couriers, while the product’s demand decreased.

Nobody was stepping out, so there was minimal focus on buying fashion items, and most people were focusing on saving rather than spending. Our brand is all about our customers and all about ethical practices. We care about everyone who works with us and asks for our products. To sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees, we put in much effort to sanitize products. We also kept a close check on every employee’s health.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into this space?

There is a good reason we see passion depicted as fiery in popular media. Believe in your passion for being your fire and starting something, you feel strongly about. We encourage you to be confident in your idea and the problem you solve. Remember, you need to solve your targeted problem better than anyone else attempting to solve it. Or, if you have identified a problem nobody is solving yet, make sure you put your heart and mind into it and make it impactful. Once you are confident of that, make it a point to understand your target audience and your market.

Hey, instead, become best friends with them! We live in a generation where social media significantly influences customers, so we can definitely leverage that and put it to use. You need to align with your customers’ thinking, so constant feedback is always a good idea. Social media has made this pretty easy.

Being an entrepreneur, there will be tough decisions and challenges that you might face, but never be afraid of them. An entrepreneurial journey is a fulfilling one, but it is not an easy one. You will learn a lot, so make sure you keep your eyes, ears, and mind open. Network, accordingly, too. Confidence, passion, risk, customers, and the solution to a problem together forge the key that unlocks success!

How do you envision scaling Heart Up My Sleeve’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?

Shark Tank has given our business a brilliant boost. Moving ahead, we, as a brand, are focusing more on marketing. We are literally on top of the world to have Vineeta and Anupam on board! With their support, knowledge, experience, and the kind of networks they have, we can make this brand big memorably and recognizably- together.

They bring quite different kinds of expertise to the table, which will surely be beneficial for us. We are already available on Nykaa fashion and Aza, which has given us a larger pool of customers and made us more accessible. The good news is, soon, you will see us on all major e-commerce platforms as well! We are hopeful about our journey ahead.

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