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MY CLOTHES ARE FOR THE REAL WOMAN

24 March 2021

Mamta Nagar is a strategy and marketing consultant focussed on the apparel industry. She owns Munjoh, a clothing brand for women based on the concept of wearable art. For 38-year old Mamta, multitasking has been the key to the success of her brand. 

I am a person who cannot sit still. I keep challenging myself. Much before I set out to establish Munjoh, I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it. I am a Sindhi and I wanted the name to be connected to my roots. Munjoh is a Sindhi word meaning “mine” or “to belong”. The journey to create this brand has been full of challenges, each day bringing a new set. 

I wanted to launch the concept of wearable art, which is affordable and at the same time defining elegance. My concept is if it looks good on me and I feel comfortable in it, then it is wearable. Munjoh is for anyone between 24 to 55 years of age. Nowadays, the younger girls are too slim so designing for them is a tough challenge. Since Munjoh is a fun elegant range, those older than 55 years too can try it. 

My father is in the lingerie manufacturing business. I always wanted to work with him but somehow it did not take off. I come from a traditional Sindhi family, but my mother pushed us into enhancing our professional skills. My parents were the shields for me in combating the laid-down norms of the society. My mother wanted me to be independent in a vocation I loved. Today, she is my critic whose opinions add value to Munjoh. 

In 2005, in a campus placement I was offered a job with then newly started DNA newspaper. I had just completed my MBA and when I got picked up by a newspaper whose pre-launch campaign had made the biggest noise in Mumbai, I was ecstatic. I worked with the research team of DNA. After a two and a half stint here, I moved on to work with IMRB and worked here for over five years. Later on, I moved to Worldwide Media and headed the research team. 

During my tenure at Worldwide Media, I started feeling the urge to set out on my own. After I quit work, during my notice period there, I researched and studied the apparel market. I registered my company Craft Apparel and the brand Munjoh was born. 

I wanted to launch the concept of wearable art. I had a few friends who were emerging artists. I had seen their paintings and liked the work. I studied their art closely with the intent of using these art works on fabrics. 

The biggest challenge I faced was adhering to deadlines. When you work for an organisation deadlines are sacrosanct. On my own, the deadlines went haywire. I did not have an office, so I operated out of Starbucks outlets. Though my father was in the garment industry his line of production was completely different. I had to begin from scratch. I started meeting vendors to understand the market. I had a game-plan in mind and was keen on launching my apparel line as soon as I could. I worked with a various artists and within five months we had our first collection ready. 

Since I was not keen on getting into sizing, I decided to concentrate on a niche creation of stoles and scarves. The first exhibition was at the SoBo Flea at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. I had a lot of aspirations for this exhibition but it did not go as expected. Though my friends came and visited the stall the number of walk-ins disappointed. My first exhibition was an eye-opener, a learning experience. 

The next participation was at the Flea Market exhibition in 2019. This March, Munjoh will be two-years old. My latest collection is “Aai” (Mother). There are hand-worked saris, hand-blocked saris from Udaipur (Aravalli range) , lounge dresses, linens, dupattas, scarves and stoles with Kutchi and Kashida embroidery. My belief is that the fabric, embroidery and the art should be speaking its own language and should lure. I feel that the style should be comfortable and elegant, which is something today’s women are looking at. 

After I launched Munjoh, I did a short 8-month course in designing at NIFT. This programme worked for me as it taught the basics. Post Covid-19 lockdown, I have a team of freelance designers who work alongside me. Angel funding has helped me sustain through the harrowing times of the lockdown. 

The thought defining Munjoh has been to create a fashion community that brings on board various artisans, artists, makers, stylists and designers to co-create and co-own each piece of clothing each piece of clothing and accessory shaped on this platform. The team behind Munjoh has multiple years of experience in media, marketing, manufacturing and consultancy.

The price range is affordable. The dupattas, stoles and scarves are priced in the range of Rs 300-4000; saris from Rs 2100-15000; dresses from Rs 1200-3000. I have a studio at Chembur and I retail online too.