Women’s Day: A tech mother who became a successful entrepreneur while fulfilling the dreams of twin daughters

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Bengaluru, March 8 (IANS) A 47-year-old senior tech professional turned entrepreneur from Rajasthan and settled in Bengaluru for the last 17 years, Kanika Jain is the proud CEO and founder of Ikaanya, a leading gymnastics and dance wear clothing and apparel company which is all set to make a mark in the global market.

Olympians representing India in gymnastics, such as Prathima Nayak and Deepa Karmakar, sport the outfits of Ikaanya at international competitions. Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan has given her testimonial, appreciating the products. Her children are using Kanika’s designs for gymnastics.

Kanika’s journey into entrepreneurship began when she faced challenges finding suitable attire for her twin daughters, both passionate dancers and gymnasts. Recounting her story to IANS, she shared, “I am a mother of twin daughters who are 16 years old. They love dancing and were also into gymnastics for a long time. They represented India in the Dance world cup which was held in Portugal last year. As they were growing up and participating in many gymnastics competitions and dance performances, I would end up arranging their costumes from outside India, sometimes the UK and sometimes the US. I realized that I was not the only one, there were many parents who would do the same and probably that was the seed of Ikaanya – Identification of the gap in the market where almost every dancer and gymnast struggles to get good quality costumes, even when they are willing to pay. That’s why we wanted to bring variety and quality to India so that all dancers and gymnasts here have the option of getting multiple designs. That’s how Ikaanya started in 2019.”

“When I started, my family helped a lot. My husband was my part time tech support or photographer. The company is profitable now, and funds are transacted from there. I have been working for 17 years in the corporate sector. We had savings, and with family money, the business was started. Now, we are at a stage of significant expansion. We are the first Indian company manufacturing international attire, addressing the gap in the market for top-notch quality. Now, the market is growing, and the craze for belly dancing and gymnastics is growing in India,, Kanika explains.

Ikaanya manufactures its products outside India due to the unavailability of the required machinery and fabric domestically. The meticulous process involves providing designs to factories, receiving samples, and undertaking multiple rounds of resampling, taking three to four months to bring a product to the market. There are small players, but proper international quality is definitely missing in them. The type of machinery required, the type of fabric needed, is not easily available in India, Kanika says.

Navigating the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, Ikaanya found an unexpected ally in Amazon in 2021. Initially focusing on a B-to-B model with schools, the closure of educational institutions during the pandemic compelled a shift to retail. The brand gained recognition, and Amazon became a significant revenue platform. Reflecting on her achievements, Kanika proudly mentioned that Pranathi Nayak wore an Ikaanya-designed dress at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, marking a significant milestone since the company’s inception. Gymnasts Deepa Karmakar and Pranathi Nayak continue to be ambassadors for the brand.

Looking ahead, Kanika envisions Ikaanya expanding into all western dance forms, including belly dancing and swimming. Amazon is the platform where we get the most revenue. Before Amazon, we focused on B-to-B. “Recently, Soha Ali Khan has begun using our products for her kids’ gymnastics. We have received a very good testimonial from her. I didn’t even have to ask her; it was amazing. It was a proud moment as well,” she adds.

When asked about her message to aspiring entrepreneurs, Kanika emphasizes, “Don’t overthink it. If you are passionate and courageous, begin your journey. The worst that can happen is a temporary slowdown. With passion, courage, and focus, success will follow in your business.”

Kanika Jain’s future plans are to expand into all western dance forms. She wants to get into belly dancing and swimming and also go global with Amazon. “The US would be our obvious choice. I am quite confident in the designs we are thinking for introducing Indian patterns for global marketing. It will be different in that market,” she says.



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