Jheal Shah: A Fashion Expert with an Approach Towards Sustainable Clothing

Jheal Shah | Founder & CEO | The Stylease
Jheal Shah | Founder & CEO | The Stylease

Everyone is just trying to sustain their businesses to the best of their ability. Luxury has taken a hit due to lesser disposable income but with time it will be back to its original place. The one good thing that has happened is that people have gotten more comfortable with online shopping and checking out websites and social media for outfits instead of insisting for store visits. Sustainability has also been highlighted through th e pandemic when people have realized that there is a lot more, they can do with their current wardrobes instead of constantly buying new clothes. “We have a lot of clients who now just ask for video call appointments and place orders using that as a verification medium instead of coming to the store,” says Jheal Shah, the Founder and CEO of The Stylease.

In the given below excerpts of the interview, let us decode her views and opinions about the fashion industry pertaining to India:

How has been your professional journey so far? Tell us about your career in brief.

I started my professional journey at the mere age of 18. I, along with my business partner at that time started an event management company based out of India. He ran it full time while I pursued my undergrad from the UK in Molecular Genetics from The University of Warwick and I flew down for all major events. It was an extremely eventful 3-4 years of running that and I am so grateful to look back at it and realize how much I unknowingly learnt during that process. I came back to India after finishing my undergrad and then worked with times of India as a marketing executive for a few months before I decided to do my masters in New York in Fashion Marketing from Parsons, the New School for Design.

At that time, I realized that I could not continue doing my business in India from New York, so my business took over that company and runs it till today. While doing my masters in New York I worked with Armani Exchange, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang as an intern. That’s what taught me about the world of fashion and how a fashion business is truly run. Once I returned to India, I interned with Falguni and Shane Peacock for a bit and eventually landed up at an MNC job which I did for a year.

While I was doing that job, I got into IIM Ahmedabad for executive education and went there for the Young Entrepreneurship program. During one of my classes there is when I had the idea to start Stylease and I quit my job the minute I finished my IIM course and launched my business soon after. It has been almost 5 years since.

Who inspires you to wake up every day and keep making a difference in the fashion industry? What is the source of your motivation?

My mother and sister are both fashion designers. I have seen my mother work in this industry from as long as I can remember, and I have seen how it has grown and the shift in trends and the rise of designer labels as well. Seeing her work so hard on her fashion business over the last 30 odd years is what makes me want to make a difference in this industry. She and my sister are my source of motivation.

What challenges did you face while establishing fashion brand?

As with any new business, it takes time to prove your worth in the industry before anyone takes you seriously. The same was the case with The Stylease. It took us almost a year till a lot of fashion designers agreed to come on board with their collections and outfits for us to rent out. Since rental was also a relatively new concept then it took a while to educate our customers as well which is an ongoing struggle till date.

Brief us about the operations of your company/brand, its functionality, mission, vision, and core values. 

We are a fashion rental company that stands for sustainability and is trying to make a change in the way people use their heavy expensive outfits on a regular basis. Once someone buys a heavy Indian outfit for a particular occasion, they rarely wear it again. We wanted to give these clothes life and another chance and earn money for our vendors in the process, so it is a win-win for all. People have now realized that instead of buying an outfit that you will only wear once and barely getting any use out of it, it is better to rent an outfit and have an endless wardrobe at your doorstep.

According to you, what are the essentials of being a trendsetting professional in the fashion and lifestyle space?

I think having a clear voice is very essential. Every person and unique and if you can show your uniqueness to your audience you are bound to do well.

What advice would you give to the young entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the fashion world?

Do not borrow ideas from the west blindly without doing your research on whether it is fit for the Indian market or not. Also do not copy other people’s business ideas just because they seem to be doing well and making money. Follow your heart and do what you’re passionate about. In a country of 1.2+ billion people, there is bound to be a following for whatever your style may be. Lastly, fashion isn’t as glamorous as it may seem on the outside. It is one of the most grueling industries to work in with cutthroat competition and the requirement to prove yourself every 6 months, season on season.

What does the future look like for you and your company/fashion brand? Are there any growth strategies for both of you?

The only way to run a business in the long run is to build it slowly and steadily and that is what we’re looking to do with Stylease. We constantly expand our collection and launch new ranges and that is something we will always do. We also hope to grow our CSR arm and get more clothes from celebrities and fashion influencers via which we can donate more money and clothes to charity.

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