Online t-shirts stores are aplenty in India and on the face of it, Samtana is one more such store. But beneath the platform, is a strong concept of ‘Wearable Art’- a way to build a community of designers and promote art. Based out of Bangalore, founders Ben Henikel and Bharath Madhiraju knew they had to play their cards differently to stand out of the crowd. Having traveled the world and stayed in different countries, the duo figured that there are a lot of online stores selling t-shirts but there is a need for customers in India in terms of new,truly artistic, awe-inspiring designs. Seeking designs from across the globe, Samtana offers the proposition of a unique limited edition design.
The other differentiating factor for Samtana is the fact that they’ve embraced organic cotton. The startup sources its cotton from organic farming cooperatives located in Southern India which not only promotes farmers to adopt organic cotton farming but also gives chemical-free clothing. Organic cotton is categorized as naturally grown cotton in absence of any pesticides, even the land on which it is cultivated needs to be clear of any form of chemicals for a minimum of three years.
Samtana founders share a combination of technical and finance background and as a long term vision, plan to extend the offering to wearable art from head to toe. Completely bootstrapped till now, Samtana has had it’s own set of obstacles. “Almost every startup has financial problems as well as operational issues in the beginning. But we had to deal with more red tape than we anticipated, and the lack of support to startups by existing companies and services was a surprise to us,” says Ben. Having overcome them to an extent, the duo has managed to generate decent traction for Samtana and have sold more than 2000 t-shirts in less than a year without spending on PR or marketing.
Right now Samtana consists of only the two cofounders and they are working on optimizing the processes which will enable them go from design to finished product quickly. Apart from being a limited edition brand and also ‘green’, Samtana delights the customer with additional perks like taking additional care with packaging and other such minor details which are often overlooked.
Focusing heavily on design, each t-shirt that Samtana offers has artists from different parts of the world working on it and they plan to increase this further. Ben adds, “Our next collection includes art designs from the street artists in Spain and Portugal, from an architect in Scotland, and a number of creative geniuses from India as well.”