In This Case Study
Finding the White Space
Minu Margeret, the founder of BlissClub, recalls wearing men’s shorts to her early morning Ultimate Frisbee practice because “Knee-length shorts were not available for women and in India, going out in really short shorts is a problem.”
She also noticed the narrow narratives around fitness in India. The focus was on the goal (“lose x kilos, get rock-hard abs”) rather than the joy of movement. Before and after pictures proliferated and only lean, toned models featured in product photos.
Brands were focused on gym workouts or marathon training, whereas many Indian women were just ‘hacking’ activity into their daily lifestyle. BlissClub was founded to address this audience of women on the move.
Starting with leggings, today the brand has expanded to shorts, sports bras, tops, tees, and accessories. The pricing of most BlissClub products means they compete with international brands like Uniqlo or Marks & Spencer. Currently the brand sells online only, through its own site and marketplaces. However, a physical experience centre will come up soon in Bangalore.
BlissClub raised a Series A of US$18 million in May 2022, after a reported 33x growth in one year between May 2021 and May 2022, taking its revenue to Rs.70 crores.
We talked to the team to understand the brand and design factors that have powered their success so far.
Products for Women, By Women
Most mainstream activewear brands are men-first, with women’s lines taking second place. BlissClub focused hard on differentiating their product through details that addressed the needs of active women.
The brand’s first launch was ‘The Ultimate Leggings,’ with four pockets that could carry essentials like a phone, headphones or keys. It was an instant success – consolidating BlissClub’s image as a brand that understood today’s woman.
BlissClub’s communication constantly reinforces this positioning. The recently-launched sports bras, for instance, are promoted as ‘boob-sweat wicking.’ Leggings with drawstrings — the brand’s largest selling category — offer comfort despite “bloating, heavy lunches, or that time of the month.”
Unlike a typical fashion business, BlissClub does not have a seasonal policy and their entire range stands at just 25 products currently.
Inclusive, Body-positive Imagery
Photoshoots are done with women from the BlissClub community, not professional models.
The brand has a shape-inclusive and neutral modelling policy to feature all kinds of bodies and break stigmas around body image. The team’s take: “We want authenticity. We want customers to come to our website and think, hey, she looks like me!”
This policy also extends to mindful vocabulary choices like avoiding the use of the word ‘perfect’ in relation to bodies, workouts or diet.
Community at the Core
In the early days of launching the brand, founder Minu Margeret created an Instagram page to “talk about inclusive fitness for everyday women.” The page featured active women of all sizes, personal stories of fitness, body positivity reminders and live workout sessions.
As the page following grew, Margeret took a moonshot: An attempt to set a Limca record for the largest online yoga class for women.
“As a 3-month old company, our resources were limited and given the fact that we were all at home, it was obvious for us to celebrate this women-centric form of movement in the largest possible way. So we reached out to as many startups, friends and family, and got over 3000 women to attend a live Yoga session together, one of the very first virtual events. It was so important for us to be adaptable and get our growing community to also discover the new normal of enjoying time to move – and a key juncture for us to establish what’s core to our DNA – we are not just for the gymmers and runners, but all the movers.”Minu Margeret, Founder, BlissClub
Today, the brand’s Instagram page has 140,000+ followers. In line with most D2C brands, the team tracks reach and shares rather than likes. The brand also has a closed Facebook group where women set personal activity goals, share updates, and participate in 21-day challenges hosted by the brand. “We focus on trying to get fit rather than end goals or fitness ideals,” says Sneha Subramanyam, Director of Brand, BlissClub.
This emphasis on community is critical for BlissClub. “No matter how slow or expensive community nurturing feels in the short term, we are up for it,” says Anoo Bhuyan, Creative Manager, BlissClub.
Regular email surveys and social media polls allow customers to weigh in on details in product design (“Pockets on the left or the right?” “Which of these do you like: dusty or fuchsia pink?”)
This close connection with the community also yields valuable insights – like the fact that standard sizing rarely fits all. The brand’s next big launch is a range of bamboo fabric products tailored to fit different body types: apple, pear, rectangle, hourglass, etc. This, the team says, will be a first in India.
What’s Next: A Wellness App
BlissClub has ambitious plans to launch an app shortly.
Says Subramanyam, “Beyond shopping, the app will be one of the levers to expand our wellness ecosystem that’s aligned to our vision. There will be experiences such as a trainer marketplace (we’ve pulled this off successfully in our FB group before), live sessions, sub-channels based on special interests, activities, cities, and much more.”
BlissClub has definitely found a white space in the Indian apparel market. However, hardly any Indian product brand has managed to create and engage a community for long, although there are global success stories like Canadian athleisure brand, LuluLemon. Perhaps BlissClub’s keen understanding of their target audience will make them the exception. Watch this space as we track their journey!