Made in Mohali: Stitching up a success story
Flights of fancy: For schools in north India, no annual function is complete without colourful costumes from David Massey’s firm.punjab Updated: Mar 10, 2018 12:45 IST
It’s one of the most anticipated events on a school calendar. The annual function sees the students and schools at their creative best. Weeks go into the preparation of the drama productions and the special song and dance sequences. As students and teachers put on their thinking caps every year, so does the team at Dolphin ‘n’ Dolphin in Phase 5, Mohali. For two decades now, the company led by owner and founder David Massey, has been designing and manufacturing fancy dresses and costumes for schools in not just Chandigarh, but across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
“We started in 1998 here in Mohali,” informs Massey who left a successful corporate job to set up this enterprise. Today, they have costumes running into thousands –from insects and reptiles to kings, queens, and historical characters, they have everything at hand.
It was while putting together costumes for his daughter Poonam that Massey thought about starting this business venture. “I realised that both parents and schools were facing similar issues. Everyone wanted complete outfits with accessories like headgear, jewellery, all at one place. Since I had already done costumes for my daughter, I thought I could execute it on a larger scale too,” says Massey, who got full support from his wife, but not the family. “Everyone felt I was putting too much at stake and it would be a short-lived business,” recounts Massey, who started the venture with a little over three lakh rupees.
With his clients scattered all over the region, and storage becoming a problem, Massey is now going the franchise way to spread his business far and wide.
Innovation is key
The first thing that Massey kept in mind was the quality of costumes. “I often saw poorly stitched costumes made of cheap fabric,” says the entrepreneur, who painstakingly scoured markets across cities to find the best suppliers so that he could give quality at a pocket-friendly rate. “From cloth to buttons, zippers and laces we started creating our own inventory. We wanted to be able to deliver anything that the client had in mind,” says Massey, who is now assisted by his daughter. Besides crafting traditional dresses from all the states across India in hundreds, Massey also had to create new outfits on demand. “We have designed everything from a mosquito to an ant to even an LPG cylinder to be worn as an outfit. It is really exciting when schools challenge us,” quips Massey.
The process of creation
“I hired local tailors, and this office space was all I had,” says Massey as he introduces us to his team members, many of whom have been with him for years. There are neatly stacked racks of costumes, and a few tailors giving final finishes to an outfit. “Poonam designs the outfit and I help her with the logistics. We source everything ourselves. A prototype is created here and once we both approve it, it is sent to our manufacturing unit in Kharar where a team of tailors makes it in bulk,” explains Massey, who has supplied outfits overseas as well, and has a thick stack of appreciation letters from principals across different schools. “Apart from costumes for annual functions, we also design individual outfits for beauty pageants,” says Massey, showing us his latest creations, the Brazilian national costume and a princess gown with a three-foot-long trail.
The biggest concern that Massey now faces is storage space. “We are bursting at the seams. My home is full, so is this space in Mohali and the one in Kharar is fast filling up,” he tells us. Each outfit has to be made in different sizes and in large numbers. “We wash and iron them after each use and then pack them for the next season,” says Massey who is unruffled by competition. “But it gets very hectic during the yearend as schools start rolling out functions back to back and deadlines get tighter,” pitches in Poonam.
Franchising for the future
With his clients scattered all over the region, and storage becoming a problem, Massey is now going the franchise way to spread his business far and wide. “It was also very tough for schools to come all the way here to place orders. My franchisees will now take care of our distant clients across north India,” says Masssey. “They will stock our costumes and we will help them with design and manufacture,” explains his daughter.