SaRa Lifestyle Ltd, a subsidiary of Snowtex Group involved in the country's export-oriented apparel industry, will step into its fourth year on 12 May next. In an exclusive interview with The Business Standard, SaRa Director Sharifunnesa Reba spoke about a number of issues, including the journey of the fashion brand since its inception and its future plan.
SaRa Lifestyle Limited is going to enter its fourth year on 12 May. Have you been able to accomplish the plans with which you started the journey?
Sharifunnesa Reba: We had many plans but all of them could not be implemented. And last year was pretty bad because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A large part of what was planned could not be carried out. A new year has begun. We are arranging everything anew. Let's see where we can go at the end of this year. But I am very optimistic that good things will happen.
Are you planning anything special for buyers on the occasion of the third anniversary celebrations?
Sharifunnesa Reba: We don't have any such plan. However, we always try to do something special for our customers. We always experiment with designs to do something different to keep pace with the times, keeping in mind the taste of our customers. Even though we have been involved in the export-oriented garment business for a long time, we are new to the retail business. We are constantly learning. I welcome both discussions and criticisms from our customers.
Do you still have the same targeted customers with whom SaRa started its journey, or has there been some expansion in your scope?
Sharifunnesa Reba: Of course, our reach has increased. We started making clothes through targeting certain groups in the beginning, but at the end of the year, we saw that there were more demands. In the beginning, we only made clothes for adults, but now we make and sell clothes for kids too. The number of our new customers is also increasing day by day.
You have a good reputation as an outerwear exporter. How is the response from local buyers this winter?
Sharifunnesa Reba: Pretty good. You will be surprised to hear that our sales almost doubled in 2020 compared to the previous year. Even in these bad times, getting so much response from buyers means that they have trust in our products. And we are grateful to customers for that. We want to hold on to that in the future.
SaRa has been marching ahead with a good reputation since the beginning of its journey. Where do you want to take this brand in the next ten years?
Sharifunnesa Reba: Our mission and vision are one – to provide quality products at low prices. We want to hold on to this ideology. If we can retain this, the scope of our business will increase. We want to take SaRa to a strong position in the way we've brought Snowtex from a small enterprise to today's position. Now our activities are only in Dhaka. We want to go to the district towns in the future.
Several festivals, like Valentine's Day, Pahela Falgun and Pahela Baishakh are up ahead. What are your plans for these days?
Sharifunnesa Reba: We make plans at the beginning of the year. We set a target. We think about the occasions in the year and plan about what we will do centering on those occasions. Last year, no one was able to hold any event. So, we suffered some losses. Nonetheless, since we did plan early in the year, we could avoid a major setback.
How far have you come on the way to establishing SaRa as an international brand?
Sharifunnesa Reba: There is no specific planning. We are trying to fulfill our commitment to buyers in an honest way. If we can live with self-respect, then we will surely be able to reach our goal in the future.
The fashion industry, like other industries in the country, has suffered a lot due to the pandemic. The present situation, however, is much improved than before. How much of the damage caused by the pandemic has been overcome?
Sharifunnesa Reba: Last year, no one could celebrate any festival and so everyone suffered losses more or less. However, we could survive any major loss, thanks to the Snowtex Group. We have been able to recover the losses we counted initially. Businessmen are trying to turn around after the coronavirus setback. However, the picture as to who is in what condition will be clear by the end of the year.
The government provided various forms of financial and policy support to industries to help them overcome the coronavirus fallout. How useful were those?
Sharifunnesa Reba: Very useful. Yet we have a lot to do ourselves. If you just look to the government, it will not help you. Companies should place emphasis on planning for the future, through minimising unnecessary costs. By doing this, an organisation can become strong in many ways in running its activities. But all these must be done honestly. If anyone resorts to a different kind of planning, he or she will have to suffer its evils.