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Threesixtyone Degrees: Anirban Haldar and Rajesh's Rs 60 lakh design company

 Armed with Rs 5 lakh from their savings, and backed by eight embroiderers and designers, Anirban Haldar and Rajesh set up shop at Oshiwara, Mumbai.

 

 

When Anirban Haldar and Rajesh, teamed up to launch Three sixty one Degrees in 2006, little did they know that they were heading for a bad recession. However, the design company not only survived the downturn, but has emerged stronger—the company's revenue for 2013-14 is Rs 60 lakh. The duo, graduates from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (Anirban from Kolkata, Rajesh from Delhi) wanted to be entrepreneurs despite their non-business backgrounds, but since they wanted work experience, both started their careers as assistants to reputed designers. 

Before long, their paths crossed at Pantaloons—Rajesh had been working in the men's wear department of the lifestyle retail behemoth since 2001, and Haldar joined its ethnic design team in early 2004. "The experience at Pantaloons, not just in terms of design but also in handling operations and managing people, proved vital when we started Threesixtyone Degrees," says 35-year-old Haldar. Though the duo thought about the start-up route at the end of 2005, they did not want to rush into it and registered the company only in May 2006. Armed with Rs 5 lakh from their savings, and backed by eight embroiderers and designers, the two set up shop at 
Oshiwara, Mumbai. However, they continued with their day jobs.

"We would work nearly 15 hours a day due to the demands of both the jobs," says Rajesh, also 35. This, despite the fact that they were not selling any 
designs and spending the afterwork hours finetuning their business plan. This continued for a year, and during this period Rajesh was promoted as head of the design team at Lee Cooper, which had been acquired by Pantaloons. While the new position was a welcome break, Rajesh knew that Threesixtyone Degrees was his true calling. So, in mid-2007, he quit his job and focused on the start-up, while Haldar continued to straddle both jobs.

"It was a conscious decision since one of us could focus on chanelling the enterprise and the other could provide a regular cash flow," says Haldar, who joined the business in November. By the end of the year, the duo had managed to pull off a dream launch for their brand 'Ra'. They unveiled their collection at the Lakme India Fashion Week and it was warmly received by the design fraternity

and the press. Before long, their brand had made its way to design stores across the country. In fact, it was such a big success that the two started drawing salaries within six months of their launch. Then came the recession and the brand was in trouble. "Most of our clothes were priced above Rs 6,000, so we saw a massive decline in sales in 2008," says Haldar.

That's when the duo decided to focus on their other vertical, which had been set up along with the fashion line. This offered design solutions for corporate events and brand consulting. "From 2008, we kept our label alive, but switched focus to styling and designing costumes for ad shoots events and short films, as well as playing consultants to designer labels like Sepia.

We discovered that this segment was less impacted by recession, unlike the apparel business," says Haldar. This helped keep the company afloat and today contributes a big chunk to the turnover. With the fashion industry regaining its footing, the future seems rosy for the firm, which is growing at 30% year-on-year.