Freelancer Sooraj Saxena was struck by inspiration when a company that owed him money ghosted him. Saxena used this frustration to pivot his production company SHVKTI, which he launched in 2018 to help other brands create content, into a lifestyle brand. One of its main focuses is apparel, and its first collection dropped in August 2021.
While Saxena started growing his online presence through Instagram and YouTube, he said TikTok was the true game changer. He started posting on the app in early 2020 to share stories and beliefs that were meaningful to him.
Striking TikTok gold, Saxena quickly became known for his high-quality videos, all of which he shoots, edits, and produces himself. His content is beautiful with a strong focus on South Asian culture, shorts see him rapidly pouring chai from a teapot or kettle into a cup while singing along to lyrics of a Bollywood song, or using an Indian instrumental sound, usually accompanied by proverb or quote about self-awareness or self-acceptance captioned on the screen.
Saxena’s online growth was gradual and steady — in December 2020, he accumulated 100,000 followers, which slowly grew to 250,000 in August 2021. As he started becoming more popular, Saxena expanded his content, sometimes incorporating popular English songs into his videos.
One element of his brand that really took off was his SHVKTI apparel line. He credits his online audience with the concept, explaining that when he started gaining thousands of followers, people would DM and comment on his videos saying how much they loved what he was wearing and that they’d wear something similar with the captions he projected on screen.
He launched his first fall collection that same month, and by December 2021, the company made $32,470. Sales rose steadily and in the past two and a half years, SHVKTI apparel brought in $258,223 in revenue, leaving a 30% profit margin of $77,467. Currently, the inventory includes shirts, hoodies, pants, hats, and tote bags, which feature captions like “thriving in chaos” and “no need to rush.” Most customers are based in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Since his apparel collections went live, he’s been using social media to drive sales, always wearing his creations in videos, linking to the website, and creating promotional content, like when he announced his fall/winter 2022 collection was live.
As of today, the apparel collection is a one-man job. When an order is made, Saxena is notified through the website, choosing the garment and uploading his slogan or design, coordinates with a printing service to finalise the product at a fulfilment centre and packages it up to be delivered to the buyer.
The key takeaway? A dedicated audience is everything.