Men's T shirt available at Lemonade
How did you come up with the concept of Lemonade – affordable luxury products?
Luxury is a traditional industry, which is beautiful in several ways, largely retail-led and predominantly catering to the top 1 percent population. Besides incredible product quality, luxury brands provide outstanding logos, elite designs, state-of-the-art packaging, and elegant stores. We love luxury; who doesn't, right?
Modern millennials want incredible products, engage with brands in a new-age way, and largely prefer digital-first channels. In this discovery, lay our opportunity – without compromising on the incredible product quality, we wanted to break the stereotypical way luxury brands tend to get a bit uppity, and bring a refreshing point of view to this industry, hence the name ‘Lemonade’. Lemonade propels the product as the hero, trimming down all else. (Lemonade.shop)
Co-founder of Lemonade, Sambuddha Bhattacharya Co-founder of Lemonade, Gokul Ramanujam
What has been your own journey as entrepreneurs?
Although in its very early days, it’s been an absolutely incredible journey shaping Lemonade from a concept to a real business. I’m a second-time entrepreneur, and in my previous stint co-founded John Jacobs Eyewear that’s gone on to become one of India’s largest consumer brands. I’m a keen student of building and scaling consumer brands, and really enjoy challenging the status quo!
My co-founder Gokul was instrumental in launching the online ordering business and scaling the content vertical globally for Zomato, so has driven a tremendous growth journey- now doing the same scaleup, but as an entrepreneur.
We realize we’re onto something insurgent, and are privileged to be backed by several marquee investors, globally.
Beige Scarf from Lemonade
Why were you so keen that they should be made in India and affordable?
Most luxury brands across USA and Europe outsource their manufacturing to India, China or pockets of South Asia. Even if some products may be finished in, say Italy, the product is manufactured in Asia. India is our backyard so it became a good starting point – eventually we want to work with luxury manufacturers across the region.
We do not claim to be affordable or cheap – we just want to do transparent and honest pricing. This honest pricing helps us democratize the access of luxury quality, which has so far been limited to only the affluent elite.
How is Lemonade the right place for someone who only wears and owns luxury brands?
Lemonade is not the ideal destination for luxury connoisseurs and we do not aim to compete with the top luxury brands for market share. Lemonade aims to increase the access of luxury-grade products to an upcoming, aspiring consumer cohort.
A rug by Lemonade
What ensures that very same quality for your products that you find in luxury brands?
We are super strict about two things – one, raw materials and two, craftsmanship. We only procure the finest quality raw materials across all our products. Plus, we only partner with top-tier luxury exporters, whose workers have been meticulously trained to build/weave beautiful products for global elite brands.
The combination of the two ensures our product quality is top-notch. Our clients love our products, and this is evident in our sub 2% return rate – in an industry that witnesses 25- 30% return rate.
I notice that you have gone to those same people who supply to Hermès, Massimo Dutti, Ralph Lauren, Loro Piana – how are you able to get the products from them at the same cost price as the luxury brands?
Whether it be Hermès, Loro Piana, or Lemonade, the product quality is the same and hence the cost price is the same. Luxury brands decide to mark it up significantly, to be able to cater to the affluent elite.
The end consumer-facing price has nothing to do with cost price of the product, which is exactly the notion we’re out to dispel. Good things shouldn’t cost a fortune, and everyone should own good things, right?
Men's T shirt by Lemonade
Can you please tell us how you have eliminated the middleman and the markups?
Several luxury brands source via buying houses, sourcing agents or even large factories that subcontract to specialized factories. We go straight to the luxury factories, so we do not have to pay middlemen commissions or “finders fees” or brokerage percentages.
Additionally, we do not have lavish retail stores. We do not do warehousing – we’re an on- demand model. We do not do fancy packaging. We do not want consumers to pay for logos/labels. And hence our markups aren’t high at all. The consumer pays predominantly for product price.
How do you find the brands to source from? When you say it’s the same brand as, say, Anthropologie, is it the same product, or one specially made for Lemonade?
I live half my life in New York City, and have close friends who work in prestigious roles at top luxury brands. We’re able to open doors via our relationships. We’ve additionally built an in-house sourcing team of experienced professionals who have also worked with several luxury manufacturers, and have established relationships.
When we say it’s coming from the same factory as Anthropologie, we intend to signal high quality craftsmanship and raw materials. We do not use the same products or same designs- at all. Products are specially designed by us and made by manufacturers, for Lemonade.
Who designs the products, clothes, footwear, bags?
Lemonade’s product philosophy is to take timeless classics, and elevate them. We do our own product design, in-house.
For example, your Hermès throw, is it the same design as the one made for Hermès or a special design for you?
It’s our design, but it’s the same material as what Herm
A rug by Lemonade, high on design
How large is your network – is it pan-India?
We sell to consumers and clients pan-India. In fact, 35 percent of our orders have come from Tier 2 and 3 cities.
I’ve noticed that currently you have dresses coming soon, and also just a few products in some categories. When will the website be fully stocked?
The website will never be fully stocked! Every month we’ll keep adding something new. There are a lot of new things coming in November and December. For example, we have added new products like cotton shift and A-line dresses, evening and wraparound dresses in satin, wallets, backpacks, and shoes.
Are all the items available shipped pan-India? And abroad?
Yes, we’re a digital platform so we can be available to anyone, anywhere. Although we’re focused on our early journey across India, we cater to a consumer base globally. Anyone anywhere can shop from us.
Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.
Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.
It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.
A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.
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