India’s first cruelty-free fashion brand — PNA, the brainchild of Poojaa Choprah, was conceptualised in 2012 to usher in an era of ‘Obtainable Elegant Luxury’ in designer accessories. Based out of New Delhi, the brand curates bags out of anything that is non-leather with ingenuity and imagination. Team Optimist speaks to Poojaa Choprah on her journey with PNA. Excerpts…
Team Optimist: Tell us the story of India’s first cruelty-free fashion brand — PNA.
Poojaa Choprah: PNA was conceptualised in 2012 to usher in an era of ‘Obtainable Elegant Luxury’ in designer accessories. We curate bags out of anything that is non-leather with ingenuity and imagination. Our patrons are our inspiration. Each bag is uniquely handcrafted to excel the ever-so-high expectations of our clientele.
Although I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, it was only when I was in college that I realised fashion was my true calling. But, before I dived into it, I pursued higher studies in finance and management, so that I had the right knowledge of my business. I finally started in 2012. What began as an individual effort at designing and addressing client needs has transformed beautifully into a very well-received brand over the years.
We’ve always believed in experimenting with new materials and designs that make us an innovative brand. We love customizing designs for our patrons and match them with their style. Our bags have elegance, style and function that make them unique. Each bag is designed and handcrafted to enable you to carry your ‘art piece’ every time while maintaining elegance and style. PNA is obtainable elegant luxury which combines fashion and usability that makes you feel special and liberated.
I think the constant support of my clients and people around me has allowed me to stay true to my mantra, also the USP of this venture: Zero Leather and Complete Personalization of Products. We personalise products to ensure that they carry an essence of our clients’ tastes. It’s similar to the way we customize office stationery for our clients in London. We incorporate several elements of the city in the design. This makes the client connect more with the product and make them loyal to the brand.
We’re India’s first Animal Welfare Conscious Brand and were awarded the Ethical Fashion Brand by PETA in 2017.
Team Optimist: ‘Class with vibrant colours’ — what’s your idea of PNA from a customer’s point of view?
Poojaa Choprah: Today’s customers are very well-travelled and aware of fashion trends all over the globe. They want something that’s different from the league, yet classy. At PNA, we design our bags keeping in mind our target and loyal customers. We offer a wide range of bags in unique colour combinations, patterns, textures and personalization options. We’re the first brand for bags that offers personalization in any language. The use of black and brown is minimal in our catalogue and the focus is on colour combinations closest to what nature offers. This is true inspiration.
Team Optimist: What are the products now on offer from PNA?
Poojaa Choprah: We have a wide variety of bags for men, women and children. We make a lot of accessories and lifestyle products, too, such as bands made of different materials; coasters; desk organizers; wine boxes; wallets for men and women; diaries; pencils made with recycled paper, edible colours and active seeds at the end; ID card-holders; key chains; bag charms; gym bags; laptop bags; passport-holders and so on.
Team Optimist: Is it a challenge to survive in India as an entrepreneur?
Poojaa Choprah: Businesses in the current scenario are extremely challenging for all entrepreneurs. The economy is in a slump and all sectors are severely hit, the worst-affected being the luxury sector, of which PNA is a part.
Customers are now extremely cautious about their spending and this makes it very challenging for us to grow. However, there are many schemes and government opportunities that start-ups such as ours can avail of to stay afloat. However, we request the current government to take urgent measures to improve the business scenario in the nation. It is the entrepreneurs that give jobs and the cycle continues.
Team Optimist: What are your plans for PNA?
Poojaa Choprah: We’re soon launching our e-commerce website this year and our products will also be available on other e-commerce portals this year.
In 2020, we propose to open 10 flagship stores across the country, with a focus on Tier-II cities first, where the brand can make its presence felt and spread awareness on use of leather-free products. We also plan to take the brand worldwide — to the US markets, where the concept of using leather-free products is already present. We’re riding on the global wave of changing our fashion choices to environment-conscious and environment-friendly ones. We aim at being an integral part of ‘Making the World a Better Place to Live in’ campaign.