Six Yards Plus: Women-owned, women-run start-up

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Six Yards Plus makes the saree buying and draping experience effortless, authentic, and fun. They do this by offering products, services, and experiences, all focusing exclusively on sarees. They carry over 50 weaves from across 12 states of India and are present in three cities and multiple online channels. The startup has deep supply chain relationships across weaving and artisan clusters and has seen revenue grow 6X since its first year. Six Yards Plus is a women-owned, women-run start-up, with a team of 10 members across functions, and is currently working on some innovative products and services which will be path-breaking in this space.

If you are someone who thinks that sarees are only for weddings or festivals, then you are not alone.

Mrinalini Shastry spent over 16 years working in the development sector, with NGOs, social enterprises and the Andhra Pradesh government, before she decided to start Six Yards Plus, a brand that sources authentic sarees across 20 states of India.

An alumna of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Mrinalini spent most of her career working on women’s livelihoods, especially women’s self-help groups, helping them take their products online and making them profitable.

Till the age of 22, Mrinalini Sastry also used to feel the same. Once she started learning what encompasses this beautiful fabric that can be worn anywhere and at any time, there was no looking back. From learning about the vivid Cheriyal to Pochampally Ikkats to Narayanpet silks in Telangana to the stunning Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh and the vibrant Pattachitra from Odisha, Mrinalini has a saree for every occasion.

The ISB, Hyderabad alumnus combined her 15 years of experience in working in the non-profit social enterprise space and her love for sarees to give birth to Six Yards Plus. Started as a small-scale enterprise from her home with the help of her mother, the saree startup now has stores in three cities and an online shop.

“We deal with ethical, experiential, and sustainable products along with having artisanal and signature sarees. That does not mean that our sarees are boring in design, we aim to transform this simple Indian wear into an affordable, effortless one, and fun attire that is fit for anything from ‘havans’ to happy hours,” says Mrinalini, who claims to have visited most of the pubs in Hyderabad wearing a saree.

So, what does the startup offer to weavers?  It works in clusters with some of the weavers and has been able to increase the business of artisans over 25 times and has been investing in the supply chain even during the pandemic. It has also partnered with Aditya Birla to use their signature LIVA fabric interpreted with traditional handicrafts like Cheriyal paintings from Telangana and Crochet lace from Narsapur, Andhra Pradesh.

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“We believe in the revival of long-forgotten art and crafts and through our SaRevive we are recreating some of the older art forms on sarees. Not just this, we are also allowing our customers to bring their old sarees and we will revive it by getting it hand-painted by award-winning artisans,” the founder says and adds that the enterprise is 100 percent run by women.

During the pandemic, the saree startup has worked on 150-plus new designs. It is also working closely with weavers to curate signature lines and provide them with the livelihood that they deserve.

So the next time you need to get hold of this beautiful drape, you know where to go!

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