This brand of vegan leather accessories is the new game changer in the industry

Ask any woman to name the most important accessory in her wardrobe and you’ll probably get one of two answers: bags or shoes.

Given their importance and widespread use, shouldn’t we choose vegan and sustainable options over their leather counterparts? That’s certainly what Mansi Gambhir believes – the creative director and founder of THE GUSTO, based in Gurugram, launched in November 2020.

“THE GUSTO, as its name suggests, is an enthusiastic and piquant brand. By providing functional products including handbags, laptop bags, office accessories, etc., we strive to simplify and organize our customers’ lives,” Mansi shares while joining YS Weekend for a chat.

She adds, “We build our base offerings on feedback from our customers, whether they are professionals, students or family members. Our mission is to provide affordable, user-friendly, durable and handmade accessories to everyone.

The idea

A BTech engineer by qualification, Mansi has ten years of experience working with multinationals such as Infosys and the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 2016, she started her entrepreneurial adventure with GALLOP INTERNATIONAL — a sister company of THE GUSTO — which manufactures handbags for various national and international brands.

“Our goal was to create bags with sustainable materials and functionality as the sole focus. Therefore, we only use vegan leather, essentially a polymer, which is a close substitute for leather. It is both cruelty-free and environmentally friendly. It has leather-like grains and texture and does not harm livestock,” she explains.

Adding: “Since this is a factory produced product, it expands our design options by allowing us to choose from a wider range of colors and combinations. Additionally, our product selection includes organic cotton linings and vegan suede and corduroy varieties, resulting in exquisite products.

Mansi says THE GUSTO’s various products appeal to people of all ages, including students, teachers, doctors, pilots, IT professionals, and housewives looking for a well-organized, feature-rich accessory.

For example, one of THE GUSTO users who runs a school was so impressed with the bag that she ordered one for each of her teachers as a gift for Women’s Day.

Apart from its website and Instagram handle, the brand is available on all major e-commerce portals including Amazon, Nykaa, Nykaa Fashion, Ajio, Caelum and Flipkart, and ships all over India.

In fact, it also offers online services to UAE customers through its UAE website.

Products offered

In addition to making bags in many categories, THE GUSTO recently introduced a corporate decor line, which offers a wide range of products, including trays, baskets and organizers, to make your work environment less stressful.

Made from 100% cruelty-free vegan leather, Mansi describes these utility organizers as perfect for all office essentials.

“There is no seasonality in our collection. Instead, it’s driven by our interactive customer feedback process, which lets us know what our customers are looking for in a bag and incorporate their requests into the next offering,” says the founder.

For example, THE GUSTO created the Beyond Tote in its COSMOS collection for women who like to carry their world in their bags but prefer a sleek, stylish and useful bag to hold.

“The bag went through several iterations before we knew it was the right product,” she adds.

Its products are prices between Rs 1,000 for its wallets and go up to Rs 4,000 for the laptop and office bags.

Mansi calls all of his clients genuine celebrities in their own right, but also adds that his designs have been spotted on personalities such as Ahsaas Channa, Achint Kaur and Saloni Chopra, among others.

Naming brands like Lino Perros, Mirragio and Zouk – which offer similar products – Mansi believes its brand stands out due to its emphasis on high quality and utility in its bags. “We create bags with a purpose,” she smiles.

Additionally, she is working on the development of new sustainable materials to increase the style quotient without denting the customer’s wallet.

Recently, THE GUSTO released custom bag labels and plans to launch a full line of custom bags soon.

As Mansi explains, “Our constant goal is to organize the lives of our valued customers while they work, travel and manage technology by providing, among other things, suitable cases and pouches for gadgets.”

Challenges and Growth

The volatility of the current market scenario – where THE GUSTO has oscillated with pandemic waves – has been its toughest challenge.

However, Mansi proudly shares that the brand was fortunate to receive strong support from its internal and external stakeholders, including customers, suppliers and the workforce, as it navigated the uncertainties. of the market.

She says, “We had confidence in our products, which led us on a journey of perseverance. After the second wave, the brand saw 30% monthly growth with almost no marketing costs. Our growth has been fueled by repeat customer orders and direct customer feedback. »

“Our products are our most significant proof of innovative concept, and we are confident that we will reach unimaginable heights with these minimalist, functionally rich fashion accessories at an affordable price, and can disrupt the ecosystem by becoming the customer’s first choice. “, she said. adds.

According to Grand View Research, Inc., the The size of the Indian artificial and vegan leather market is expected to be valued at USD 8.14 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 8.3% over the forecast period. So brands like THE GUSTO are on the verge of success.

Initially, the brand invested around Rs 25 lakh to set up the business, with Rs 15 lakh invested in fixed assets and Rs 10 lakh in working capital.

Since then, Mansi says, he’s had an encouraging growth trajectory, where all of his KPIs have gone up. THE GUSTO has grown from one order per day to 50 orders per day through its website and other e-commerce partners.

Additionally, her Instagram account grew to 20,000 in a year organically just through word of mouth.

“In light of the overwhelming response from the Indian public and international inquiries, we have recently launched our UAE website and are also processing orders there. Ultimately, our customers are our biggest supporters and they are the talk of the town. of us. We have a large organic following and a high rate of repeat orders. We are using SMBs to help us take our marketing to the next level. We are also working to grow our brand presence offline,” says -she.

Concluding the conversation, Mansi shares, “With the encouraging results of the prior year, we are now ready to commit a significant portion of our working capital to a dedicated marketing budget, which should take our growth to the next level – 3X sales by Q2 FY22-23.”

She adds, “We believe in taking baby steps. So we designed a detailed monthly sales plan that integrates our front and backend efforts. We are currently seeded, so new funds are being used to expand our manufacturing facility, increase working capital and cover higher inventory costs.

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