Anyone who’s gone through the hassle of searching for a traditional Indian costume will understand how painful it is to spend so much on a piece you’d most likely wear two or three times max.
And let’s face it—if you’re last-minute shopping, you won’t have a choice but to spend, spend, and spend away just to make it for your intended event.
To make things worse, a single lehenga off the shelf can cost you anywhere from RM400 upwards.
Cue Unveil, a modern rental studio that deals with Indian traditional and ready-to-wear pieces.
A Contemporary Twist To Lehenga Rentals
We sat down with Rimka Sandhu and Nishalni (Nish) Naidu, the dynamic duo behind Unveil, to learn about their business.
Unveil offers about 50 lehengas in their store at the moment. This includes contemporary, handmade, traditional, minimal and elaborate designs to suit clients of different tastes.
“We get mainly brides, but do have clients that come to rent for corporate events or a friend’s wedding,” said Nish. She went on to explain that they have clients of every race, usually aged 18-45.
But they’ve even had celebrities stumble upon the studio.
“We’ve entertained Yuna, who rented her ‘malam berinai’ wedding jewellery from us as well as some lehengas for her ‘(Not) The Love of My Life’ music video,” continued Rimka.
Unveil’s lehenga pieces start from an affordable RM150. More elaborate, bridal-esque pieces, however, can fetch up to RM1,800.
Although they don’t make the prices visible on their website, you can still drop them an email, message them on social media, or call to enquire.
At the moment, Unveil sees about 80 clients a month.
“For a regular appointment, we start with asking clients the colour palette and budget they’re looking for. There are many different types of lehengas with various draping styles, so we help pick out ones that would suit their style the best,” Rimka and Nish elaborated.
Both founders also chipped in on going the extra mile with customer service, so that their brand has a little human touch to everything it does.
“We teach clients how to drape them during the appointment, and they do a pretty good job. On occasion though, we’ve had video calls right before a client’s event if they don’t know how to drape,” explained Nish.
When asked how they source their pieces, Rimka told us that they either handpick designs from their travels or design them.
“For curated pieces, we hand-pick them to cater to different types of clients. For in house pieces, we create a mood board and send the design to our tailor to check if it’s doable, where we then perfect it with our tailor.”
When asked about the future for Unveil, Rimka and Nish said that they’re looking towards designing plus sized and petite collections soon.
They are also focused on creating lehenga pieces that are lighter and more wearable for their clients, and they usually curate anywhere from 1-3 designs on this each month.
Friends Turned Co-Founders
Nish told Vulcan Post that both co-founders were initially working on their own separate clothing lines before the business came to be.
“It was only when we met (through Nish’s sister) that we both found a common interest in Indian wear, so it made sense for both of us to work together,” Nish explained.
This rental based business model was then started in 2016, meant to fulfil a need that some of their clients had back then—trying to find suitable Indian pieces for weddings or parties without spending too much for just one event.
Rimka went on to explain, “When we wanted to start Unveil, we didn’t find any such rentals for Indian wear in Malaysia, therefore we decided to be the first one to start a lehenga rental business here.”
Sourcing the right lehengas was a challenge for these two co-founders at first, but after a good deal of research and market survey, they strived through.
“It was a little tricky as there’s no sure shot of what would be the right design for the target market, so at the start, it was a risk we had to take,” continued Nish.
However, the duo agreed that their strong background with business, law, and psychology helped with the business.
Rimka graduated with a degree in Psychology, which helped her understand client behaviours much better, while Nish graduated with a degree in Business and has a Masters in Law.
For Rimka, she explained that her psychology degree was essential to help her understand consumers and some purchasing trends, which also helped with marketing for Unveil.
Nish, on the other hand, thanked her law background, which she said helped a great deal to run the legal front of the business.
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Featured Image Credit: Unveil