The story of Stretchery began in Delhi in the summer of 2013 when two friends found themselves repeatedly complaining of a looming gap in their wardrobes – missing the right workout wear for their gym and yoga – echoed in the Indian apparel market at large!
This gap, for them, translated into an idea; rather a challenge and an opportunity to create what they thought and continue to believe will make a great story one day!
No doubt, starting a business was a massive undertaking! ‘Do we have the stomach for it? Will our friendship stand the test of a steep entrepreneurial journey?’ The doubts were many; and, yet, the possibilities exciting. They took a leap and immersed themselves into defining what they wanted to create.
The decision was made.
And a concept fleshed out. ‘We wanted to launch an organic, fitness wear brand that went beyond workout, yoga, and wellness, to represent an idea and a lifestyle… A line of apparel where fashion met fitness and style met conscience, sensitizing people towards the right clothing and its environmental impact.’
Flexing their inexperienced muscles – sustainability and fashion as alien to them as was starting a venture – they plunged into countless hours of brainstorming over coffee sessions, sleepovers, research trips, and sampling.
(The team that makes our ideas come to life.)
With any financial breakthrough looking some light-years away, their time apart was spent working on keeping their finances steady. Jeenie, a commerce graduate, continued her work of exporting costumes to Indian dance schools overseas; while Nirali, a jewelry design graduate from NIFT Gandhi Nagar, continued to consult in the luxury retail space.
‘You get the drive to do a lot of things when you do what you love. We understood and experienced it right then’
Every single aspect of the project was unfamiliar, and a mammoth mountain to scale – right from defining the brand language, to getting legal formalities in place, to understanding manufacturing limitations, and setting up a supply chain.
Coming up with the right name for the brand was no easy task either. Not only did it have to be representative of the ideology the young entrepreneurs had in mind, but they ‘also wanted it to be abstract and new; and for it to sound like a verb.’ They wanted the name as an idea to represent a movement; that, while being specific to fitness and healthy life, caters to a larger scope of thoughts, ideas, and lifestyle. And thus pinned down on ‘Stretchery’.
(Working on the details be it the name or designs of a new collection)
Each time a box was ticked, it brought them one step closer to the goal. Yet, with each accomplishment, the setbacks were numerous and draining – from constant struggle for funds to time and workforce management of the manufacturing unit in Kolkata… and the list went on.
At last, just when it seemed like they were ready to launch, a most unexpected turn of events sent them hurtling backward. One of the co-founders, Jeenie was to shift base permanently to California with the love of her life.
It put everything on standstill for one week.
The roadmap to success just got tougher. ‘ But It was then that we let our gut decide.’ The duo stepped up and launched Stretchery, one of India’s first sustainable fitness wear brand, on 1st August 2014. ‘With beating hearts, sitting across two continents, we saw it come alive.’
Stretchery is a state of being active in mind and body. Every piece of it is thoughtfully-designed, and fairly-produced, using SUSTAINABLE and NATURAL fabrics. It defines freedom in every thread; and is for anyone who is or aspires to be active.
(When we were all set to launch our first Organic Cotton fitness wear collection)
What is it like working seas apart and on two completely opposite time zones? ‘We had to work harder, understand each other better and be patient.’ With daily Skype sessions, emails flooding with ideas, updates, and production challenges to resolve, they kept going, to finally launch their website in January 2015.
Nearly 18 months since the idea was conceived. Yet, they realized, this was just the beginning!
Did they have doubts? Yes!
Did they fear the future? Yes!
Did they give up? NO!
Starting with t-shirts and tanks to launching a range of bottoms, to launching the website for Stretchery in the International market (USA) in 2016, they nurtured it with all they had and saw it grow.
(Our team in USA helping with getting the right mood and shots)
Gradually, from 2015, Stretchery started getting noticed. Love flew in from customers, family, and friends. Recognition from the industry and mentions in published articles, came organically. Customer testimonials were real and heartfelt. ‘These are definitely the most cherished parts of our journey.’
‘It has been a whole lot of emotions, hard work and challenges; but what is the point if one cannot really enjoy the journey? So we did whenever we could. Small wins, recognitions, and compliments made our day.’
The obstacles, of course, never stop. The two co-founders take each day as a new day – adapting themselves to and growing with the lessons learnt in the last five years. ‘We are not five years old, but five years young – with passion now complemented with wisdom.’
‘We are grateful to every single person who’s been part of this journey with us – our amazing team at the manufacturing unit, friends, family, our models, brand ambassadors and the supportive fitness community. Thank you for helping our vision come to life.’
‘Today, once again, sitting across two continents in front of our screens we raise a toast to this journey.’
With passion and determination, it is not impossible to make a shared dream come true. What you need to be really ready to do, is to STRETCH!!
- Stretchery is India’s first indigenous sustainable fitness wear brand.
- It is sustainable, organic, manufactured using eco-friendly pigment dyes by a Fair Trade certified company in India.
- From the yarn to pattern making, all the way to final packaging, each step is crafted with obsessive attention to detail, to give you fitness apparel you can flaunt and feel easy in, at the same time.
Stretchery is open 24x7.
Contributed by Nidhi Dhingra, a travel researcher and writer, plus the Communications Lead for INK talks. She likes littering Instagram with her creative projects, posting as @travel.illustrator.