Trusting relationships and communicating values, by Collars & Cuffs’ Samrat Amarnani

By Samrat Amarnani, CEO and founder of Collars & Cuffs.

As is the case with any adversity, when the world took a standstill in 2020, many found themselves being forced to suspend or restructure their operations as they waited for things to return to a state of normalcy. However, many others embraced the challenges and, supported by their infrastructure and work ethic, learned to adapt to the pandemic, reorienting their teams and working with them to understand the changing state of the market rather than fight it.

What did we learn?

If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that challenges are often uninvited, and the true test of your mettle will be revealed in how you weather such complications and move forward. Thinking on one’s feet is no longer a desirable trait but a necessary one; every new day was ushering in complications that compounded, putting our collective willpower and ingenuity on the line. Existing customers required reassurance and new customers were seeking strong brand values, a trend that will define every commercial and retail industry moving for the foreseeable future.

Understanding the consumers

A plurality of consumers now engages with promotional material through ads and social media that offer them a sense of familiarity and normalcy during a time when most everything around them was changing. Businesses now had an added responsibility towards consumers, catering to the diverse demographic with individual, tailor-made approaches for each target audience. Much like in fashion, the one-size-fits-all mantra was no longer a veritable strategy. Bespoke, custom-made communication is the rule of the day.

The path towards the future for Collars & Cuffs

When the pandemic first hit, we began by shifting our focus to be there for our customers, and we made sure we kept them informed about all our updated processes. We understood their fluctuating emotional states, especially for those who had been planning their weddings and had booked for their attire well in advance to celebrate their new journey; everything was put on hold for them. We set out to reassure them through our communication and comfort them by having them focus on the future that we were confident would return to a state of normalcy.

We empathised with the changing times and those who were affected and suspended our sales for a good while to think about how we can help.  We went back to the drawing board and came back with a tailored mask product line, marketing to the needs of the community, starting with some ground research on required sizes, if they should be woven or made of cotton, the number of plies, adequate thickness, etc., to prioritise the comfort of the wearer, DHA requirements and later, we also introduced a collection of loungewear to cater to our audience who was forced to stay indoors. We fostered collaborations with influencers, including a nation-wide collaboration with Mr. Moudz, and embraced the shift in trends to make the most of what existed instead of losing hope, and, in my opinion, this is the approach that helped us rise above the inherent challenges and that would aid any brand on its process of evolution and adaptation to what is.

The result? We successfully managed to make, market, and donate up to 3,000 masks to local charity organizations, and reached a wider audience while maintaining the brand’s relevance at a time when people were not buying custom-made outfits. The C&C masks ended up becoming a game-changer, garnering the brand global recognition.

The primary lesson we learned during the pandemic was that innovation is a catalyst to great ideas, but without the initiative and vision to face your challenges and work with what you have, very little can ever be accomplished. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish and look forward to fully taking advantage of the digital world as we work towards digitalising our customer journey.