How We Bootstrapped A $1.4M/Year Clothing Manufacturing Business [From Ludhiana]

Arpit Aryan Gupta
Founder, NG Apparels
$1.33M
revenue/mo
1
Founders
42
Employees
NG Apparels
from Ludhiana, Punjab, India
started February 2011
$1,333,333
revenue/mo
1
Founders
42
Employees
994K
alexa rank
432
followers
19
followers
46
subs
market size
$100B
avg revenue (monthly)
$1.33M
starting costs
$13.7K
gross margin
40%
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Direct sales
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
35 Pros & Cons
tips
1 Tips
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Thanks for giving me this lovely opportunity, I’m Arpit Aryan Gupta and I’m currently running a garment export unit called NG Apparels that is based in Ludhiana, catering to all clothing segments across the globe.

I started with manufacturing complicated fabric accessories and high-end streetwear but we produce all kinds of products where fabric woven or knitted is the base raw material. I export mainly to the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, and various other countries.

My father lost a lot of money in the 2008 crash in the US market which pushed us out of the market and my father had to shut down his fabric trading business but I established the garment manufacturing business back in 2012 and with God’s grace the business has grown exponentially. I have a turnover of 12cr($1,581,547) without any loan or CC limit requirements.

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I was raised in Ludhiana where I studied in a Convent school following which I pursued my bachelor's degree from University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) in Business and IT. In 2010 I got an opportunity to study at Loughborough University, UK through an international exchange program via a scholarship that I received from UTS.

I developed my 1st website (self-taught) at the age of 15 when there were hardly any online courses available at that point of time but I managed it anyhow as I had always been keen on learning more about computer science and doing something exciting in this field.

I wanted to return back to India post my degree as I have always been entrepreneurial and have been keen on finally testing my business acumen by getting onto the field. I wanted to pursue something in the IT industry but Ludhiana lacked the right talent and support system and thus really struggled through it. Soon after that, I realised that Ludhiana has an amazing ecosystem for clothing manufacturing and thought why not establish a clothing manufacturing unit and yes after careful thought I jumped into it.

My family was going through a very tough time post the 2008 crash and thus it wasn't possible to get help for my tuition fees and as an international student the tuition fees are also very high. I'm a very self-reliant and independent person and eventually took a part-time job that helped me to survive the foreign land (Australia). I had saved around $10,000AUD from working part-time and that saving turned out to be fruitful when I bought the first lot of single-needle stitching machines from a Juki dealer against my father’s will to setup a small clothing factory.

I had no expertise in the industry and no idea how it worked but finally, through some difficulties, I was able to procure the very first order of some customised accessories & t-shirts. There were some challenges that I had to face in completing that order but that very first order taught me everything about the trade and yes I have been improving the factory systems since then.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

We have a very clear and precise design & manufacturing process laid out on our website, which makes it easy for the new entrants in the industry to work transparently and also brings in transparency for the existing established clients.

After understanding the requirements of the buyers which is in the form of a technical tech pack (blue print), we proceed with the sampling/prototype development process.

During the prototype process, we continuously keep sharing pictures or information about the progress of the sample development and confirm at every stage via a private instant messenger chat group.

Word of mouth and your quality of work itself will speak for you and thereby increase your traffic and sales. Make sure to give your best in whatever you do and that's the only mantra to confirmed success in all forms of life.

Post sharing the prototype picture and getting a green signal for dispatch of the prototype we proceed accordingly and wait for the feedback from the buyer. If everything is OK then the buyer places a bulk order or else the prototype is re-developed as per the changes required.

Apart from the design process, we take care of everything, from fabric manufacturing, embellishment sourcing, printing/embroidery, custom woven tags and hand tags and to sending the carton packed final bulk shipment delivered to you.

Our manufacturing/design process is divided into 5 stages as explained below:

(1)Your Idea Blueprint, Designs & Tech Packs

This is where it all starts with you providing us with a blueprint of your clothing idea. It gives details about everything that’s related from fabric & design construction to packaging of finished garments.

(2) Prototype - Flat Pattern Grading & Sample Making

After the finalisation of tech packs, we make a prototype of your clothing design which confirms mainly the fitting, stitching quality, and design.

(3) Approvals - Sample Approval & Pattern Grading

If the sample received by you is perfect, then we proceed further with grading different sizes. If not, redevelopment of the sample takes place as per your amendments.

(4) Finalise - Approval for Bulk Production

Bulk production is the final step inside our clothing factory. The lead time usually is around 30 - 45 days depending upon the design complexity of the order.

(5) Dispatch - Dispatch, Logistics & Reorder

Your clothing products are exported in a water-resistant sealed packaging. We also arrange door-to-door delivery via air or sea.

Even though the startup costs can be defined as per the person’s ability to take risks but still I would say an average startup cost in this industry would be around a minimum of $10,000 where they can have a decent product line ready for a launch with some small marketing budget included as well.

The biggest challenge that I have personally faced is that the people neither have the technical knowledge of this industry nor do they come at the right time (season), that is they always are 2 months late for the next season launch which puts a lot of pressure on me and my team to give a quality product on time and everyone knows that quality and customisation takes time.

Seeing the difficulties that I have to face daily one needs to understand that it’s quite a difficult task to provide high quality in less time due to unforeseen circumstances like unanticipated machine breakdowns, key employee absence etc.

ng-apparels

Describe the process of launching the business.

In today’s world, the online marketing strategy has to be great to succeed in any industry and the same applies to the garment industry as well. Online marketing strategies would include going full throttle in funnelling your target market segmentation through online advertisements on social media platforms.

SEO can help as well however due to extreme competition and clutter it can become difficult to progress. However offline marketing like exhibitions is a great way to get direct leads and also helps better understand the market scenario and trends.

There are three aspects of launching a business and I would detail some challenges that I faced in those aspects:

1). Initial Capital: While studying I was working part-time as well which helped me survive in a foreign land, I was able to pay some part of my tuition fees as well and did save some money for future use. God guided the way and I was lucky enough because the money saved during that period helped me to bootstrap my clothing manufacturing unit. So either you have your own hard earned money or else loan from friends or family can help you get started.

2). Startup Mistakes: The biggest advice I would give to the aspiring founders would be to take things lightly and not get too stressed about failures. Failures are the best teachers and the only thing that can happen if you fail is that you will eventually improvise and succeed if you are persistent. The biggest mistake that I made was to do too much at the same time, whereas now I realise that I should have taken small steps rather than big leaps.

3). Patience: Usually, in a normal case scenario, it would take 1st season to get into the market from where you will learn and improve, the 2nd season will get your name established in the market & from the 3rd season, you can start to see if there’s some loyalty that your business has generated or not and accordingly you need to be more aggressive in your approach.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

There are several e-commerce platforms where one can showcase their products and attract a larger audience like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, etc however being into manufacturing it’s very difficult to concentrate on that side of the business as well. Manufacturing has a lot of routine difficulties to deal with, however I would highly advise someone launching their brand/business to use these platforms to get their brand name out in the public.

One easy way to get the right audience is through online ads and especially on social media platforms. Leveraging their strength of online users is the fastest and cheapest way to penetrate the market.

Also, word of mouth and your quality of work itself will speak for you and thereby increase your traffic and sales. Make sure to give your best in whatever you do.

Fortunately, we've had a growth rate of 30% CAGR for a couple of years now and it’s easy for new companies to achieve the same if they concentrate on their strengths rather than the strength of their competitors.

Our major markets and as confirmed by Google Analytics:

ng-apparels

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

My favorite tools have been Telegram for amazing instant messaging and communication with buyers, and Slack for maintaining a proper schedule of the work and deploying the KanBan system in the production process. I have been able to develop an internal ERP system myself that helps keep track of things and keeps me updated all the time.

There are so many different tools available these days that make your life much easier. Automation is the key to efficiency and productivity.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The most influential way to keep me motivated is to listen to the stories of the people who made it big in life and one of them is Dan Pena.

He talks to the point and I find his thoughts very relatable to my though process.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Arpit Aryan Gupta, Founder of NG Apparels
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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