Growing up, Naheed Muqeetulla, watched her father build his business. The desire to follow in her father’s footsteps motivated her to join the entrepreneurial cause. Currently, Naheed is the Managing Director of Sourcing and Finance at Imperial Online Services Private Limited. With an aim to create value as an entrepreneur, Naheed channelised all her academic efforts towards securing a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, wherein she was recognized as a gold medallist in Accounting, English and Commerce. Her zeal to gain more insight about the current business environment led her to complete the Entrepreneurship course from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) under the Goldman Sachs 10K Womens Program.
Naheed, who is also a published writer, took cognizance of the growing number of fashion-conscious youth, primarily in tier-1 and tier 2 cities, who had limited choices in terms of affordable fashion. To address this gap in the fashion industry that was largely dominated by larger brands or non-systematised labels with irregular supply chains, Naheed seeded the idea of rolling out a range of a fashion product lineup under the brand named ‘Urbano’. Urbano is a youth-centric brand pitched towards those looking for trendy, quality driven and reasonably-priced fashion. On being asked about how Urbano was able to make headway in the untapped market, Naheed explained, “By harnessing the growing reach and potential of the internet we are able to deliver to customers in all parts of India, many of whom otherwise would not have access to such fashion choices.”
A firm believer in the potential of the e-commerce industry, Naheed advocates that online shopping in India has witnessed unprecedented growth in the past few years, and the pandemic has further fuelled its growth and expansion. By launching Urbano, Naheed and her team have tried to capture a segment of this growing business vertical with their wide range of offerings.
Urbano has served over 3 million customers in the last 7 years by leveraging online marketplaces such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart and Nykaa Fashion, while also selling its wide range of product lineups through its website. According to Naheed, what differentiates Urbano from other brands is the wide range of choices they offer to their customers. Their product line-up has offerings across various sub-categories that include jeans, t-shirts, shirts, chinos, outerwear and loungewear. They further make it convenient for their customers to find all their fashion needs under one roof by offering products under both core everyday basics as well as fashion-driven and differentiated styles segments. Urbano has a deeper reach within the country as it is available across multiple platforms. As far as quality assurance is concerned, Naheed says, “Post production, each one of our clothing items undergoes stringent and thorough Quality Check processes. It is this focus on quality and consistency in terms of fabrics, fits and styling that keeps customers coming back to us.”
While keeping in mind the mission to offer variety in designs and styles and to enable customers to discover and follow their personal fashion sense, the goal-oriented team at Urbano aims to build it into a leading domestic and international clothing brand that is financially, socioeconomically and environmentally sustainable. Towards this end, Naheed and her team have recently launched Project Urbano Cares.
Project Urbano Cares intends to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint by adopting more ecologically sustainable practices and opting for greener options, right from the use of sustainably sourced raw material and biodegradable packaging to employment of more eco-friendly manufacturing processes. As a social responsibility measure, Urbano is also contributing towards social upliftment of people by empowering lower income groups and troubled households. Urbano is also concentrating on various women welfare activities, wherein, they aim at educating and empowering women in their warehouses and factories.
Naheed currently manages the finance and sourcing departments at Urbano. While she undertakes all financial analysis and budgeting activities to ensure that the company is on track to achieve its targets, she also ovesees the design and sourcing aspects in terms of selection of styles, final design approvals, fabric and material confirmation and approval of design elements.
She considers her team as the most valuable asset of the company. Her core team members include Mohammed Saadulla who heads the Sales and Business Development department, Sameer Masarath who manages Operations and Order Fulfilment and Mohammed Naveedulla who handles Inventory Management and Strategy.
The regular operations at Urbano are managed by a dynamic team of both young and experienced staff members across various departments. Its sourcing and merchandizing team is incredibly agile and quick to capture trends and ensure the best-in-quality material. The supply chain managers, order fulfilment team and QC team ensure timely and efficient inventory movement so that the customers receive the right product at the right time.
With the consistent efforts of all employees, the fashion brand has also bagged recognition in the business fraternity. Urbano has consistently been awarded as the top seller on Flipkart over the last 6 years. It has also been awarded as “Top E-Commerce Brand” for 2020 and “Best Emerging Fashion Brand of the Year” for 2021 for its growth and customer-centric approach to business.
When we asked her about her definition of success, Naheed replied, “Success has always been a holistic term for me. It isn’t simply about the financials or the bottom-line. Ensuring customer satisfaction, advancing employee welfare and growth, promoting and supporting our vendors and contributing to the community are just as (if not more) crucial to me to say that my business has been truly successful.”
There is no substitute for hard work and hustle. Have a clear vision of where you want to get to, and never be afraid of putting in the hours.
There will be ebbs and flows in your business. But you need to remember that no matter where you are, you need to continue to work on your idea and your business. A stellar month does not warrant taking your foot off the pedal, nor does a slump in customers or sales require you to give up. Learn to take the highs and the lows with equal tenacity.
Maintain consistency. It is not just about making that first sale. Building trust takes time so make sure your customers see that consistency in your product and service.
And most importantly, have fun with it. This is your passion and your project. You can take it in any direction you want. Do not be afraid to chart your own course and as Urbano’s tagline states do not be afraid to “Follow Yourself”!