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Sandhya Garg: “Set your expectations right”

Emailing a customer and asking them if they liked the product and had a good experience or if there was anything that could be better or improved. That makes customers feel empowered and trust the brand. Occasionally offering customers discounts, special event access, behind the scenes access can also add to the trust building. As part […]

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Emailing a customer and asking them if they liked the product and had a good experience or if there was anything that could be better or improved. That makes customers feel empowered and trust the brand.

Occasionally offering customers discounts, special event access, behind the scenes access can also add to the trust building.


As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Highly Successful E-Commerce Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandhya Garg, a Fashion designer and founder of her namesake brand. She was seen on Project Runway Season 13, Workshop at Macy’s New York and has shown her collections at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week and the brand has been featured in Vogue Italy, Marie Claire US, Ftv.com, Elle Magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine to name a few. Her web shop- Sandhyagarg.com is USA’s Premier Online Boutique Destination for Luxury Designer Clothing, Jewelry and Accessories for women. The label sells Artisanal clothing collections that include limited edition bespoke print dresses, heritage hand woven and embroidered looks inspired by world travels.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Fashion, color, design are in my blood. I started designing and making clothes for my Barbie doll at 10 years old. Inspired by my mother and Aunties, I was always very interested in knitting, lace making, crochet, embroidery and textiles. I pursued my passion for design and fashion by studying fashion in India and London.

I polished my skills at International design studios training at Alexander McQueen, Alice Temperley and Izmaylova, learning everything from different pattern cutting techniques to hand embroidery craft and vintage knitting-lace making at the Gucci factory in Italy.

I decided to launch my own label after graduating from the London College of Fashion in 2011. The brand has an international presence thanks to a very successful stint on Project Runway Season 13, USA. On the famous reality show, I won 2 Challenges, Was in Top a lot and my work was loved by Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen. Specializing in womenswear, for me fashion is all about glamour and personal style.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Label Sandhya Garg is about every woman who has ever wanted to feel special in a big crowd. I, myself have several times struggled to find that one special dress that would make me stand out in a crowd of generic black/blue dresses. “Whenever there was a special event I would dread going shopping.

I mean it meant hours of hunting through many racks for this beautiful dress that must be a combination of exclusive design, great quality, amazing fit and be gentle on my pocket ALL at the same time”. Finding a solution to this problem, I started on a path to design limited edition dresses in my signature prints.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I first started I was completely clueless about marketing and sales. I grew up in India so USA was a completely different market. Honestly, I never considered giving up as creating clothes was my ultimate passion. Creating clothes in itself was very rewarding so that was my driving force.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Today, things are going great. I have many successes, a plan and a strategy. My resilience has taught

me not to give up or get disheartened, everything is achievable, possible and negotiable.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

I think the cultural differences (I grew up in India) when I first started were kind of funny which also led me to do some mistakes. However, I now understand US market much better and all the experience has been a great takeaway.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Something that makes my company stand out is the unique journey I had. I grew up in India, went to school in London and now I live in the US. All my travel led me to have many different experiences which is amazing. Then having the opportunity to be on Project Runway is another stand out factor. I connect with a huge audience over many interests and that stands out at a personal and professional level.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Set your expectations right. We burn out when we set unreasonable expectation and don’t measure the work we have done and how far we have come. Seeing small successes everyday helps keep ourselves motivated.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am very grateful to my husband and my family. They have all been a constant support and guided me towards success. It’s been very insightful to get input from my father who has his own successful business. My husband is an avid reader and constantly gains new skills, he always gives me the best advice and it’s been amazing to have them with me.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Most ecommerce companies have implemented strict Covid prevention and protection guidelines. Wearing masks and gloves, sanitizing, social distancing and washing hands have become common place. Shipping, delivery and return policies are also more elaborate now. I think we have learned and adapted really fast in the pandemic times when it comes to ecommerce.

Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Price of a product is directly related to the quality of product and values of production. Retail and e-com companies should keep in mind what sets them apart from cheaper products and point out those values, and quality benchmarks to their consumers. Today’s consumer is very smart and a little bit of product education goes a long way. I don’t think there is a competition between brands when the quality and design of product is night and day. For example the customer for a 10 dollars top is very different from a customer of 300 dollars blouse.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

The need for instant, overnight success is one of the biggest mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, some brands do get instant success but even to get that they have acquired skills and connections that have taken time. Everything takes time, keep working strategizing and learning. Success will follow.

In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Sometimes the whole process of creating the product and quality of the product. One can never compromise or take for granted the product itself. So, underestimating the process of product creation shouldn’t happen.

Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?

Social media is extremely powerful, so depending on your industry type posting regularly on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Pinterest or snapchat helps a lot. Creating and editing powerful content and imagery through Adobe photoshop or canva is very helpful as well.

As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?

Frequency of contact points. The more the customer see your brand, the more they want to buy it increasing the conversion rate, given that the customer is interested and can afford the product.

Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

Emailing a customer and asking them if they liked the product and had a good experience or if there was anything that could be better or improved. That makes customers feel empowered and trust the brand.

Occasionally offering customers discounts, special event access, behind the scenes access can also add to the trust building.

One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?

Fortunately, we haven’t had any bad reviews as we constantly make sure our customers are happy with our products and customer service even if that means losing money at our end. As both a consumer and a business owner, I can say that any brand should handle poor reviews with caution and empathy. Many times, listening to an unhappy customer can be very helpful in improving one’s business practices. Listen to what made the consumer unhappy and offer a solution or discuss a solution. In my experience usually this leads to a happy customer and no bad reviews.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.

Many people are creating successful e-commerce business, few things that are core to having a successful e-com business for me are-

  1. How does e-commerce fit in your life?
  2. Are you solving a problem that other people are facing?
  3. Do you have a strategy for sales and marketing?
  4. Do you have a personal connection with your buyers?
  5. Do you have a story other people connect with or believe in?

I have found each of these points to be very relevant, being a niche product brand with unique point of view it is important to create and connect with your special customer base. That is what lays foundation for success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to bring people together and talk about culture, travel, what makes them happy, discuss their childhood memories, you know make it about them and what sets them free. Today most of the word has become about serving ourselves, I want to start a conversation where we ask each other what can bring them happiness. If we really think what life is about, it is about happy memories and moments and love. It is pretty simple, but now we have diverted from happiness to getting followers, fans and likes. You know we need to get back to the basics.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Readers can find me through my website- www.sandhyagarg.com

Instagram account- https://www.instagram.com/sandhyagarg11/

Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/labelsandhyagarg/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!


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