An exclusive interview with Ashna Ruia, Founder of LehLah, a pioneering fashion tech platform powering social commerce
Ashna Ruia is the founder of LehLah, a consumer-focused fashion tech app launched in November 2022. The app is a first-of-its-kind that is revolutionising shopping and the discovery of new trends for fashion enthusiasts by their favourite creators.
The app’s technology is tailored to help creators post their curated looks and tag every product with shoppable links to LehLah’s partner brands. This feature enables consumers to shop tagged products from the creator’s content directly with a single click. This spares them the hassle of manually asking and searching for links to shop from across multiple accounts and platforms, making the shopping experience effortless.
Ashna drew inspiration for LehLah from her personal challenge — her quest to find a pair of sunglasses worn by her favorite tennis player. It made her acutely aware of the challenges consumers face when they try to discover clothing or accessories featured by creators and celebrity influencers on social media. This realisation led to the creation of LehLah as the solution to ensure that consumers don’t encounter similar obstacles in their fashion shopping journey.
Her vision for LehLah is centered on enhancing the customer’s shopping experience by helping them organically discover relatable creators and their recommendations.
Beyond the entrepreneurial realm, Ashna has excelled as a national-level chess player. She has pursued her undergraduate Bachelor in Arts degree from Columbia University in New York.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting LehLah? What motivated you to create a fashion tech platform for social commerce?
Ashna Ruia: LehLah emerged from my profound love for tennis and a captivating moment during the US Open final when my favourite tennis player wore a pair of sunglasses that truly caught my eye. This sparked a personal mission to acquire those exact sunglasses, leading me to social media inquiries and even store visits during a family trip to London.
This pursuit sheds light on the daunting gap between being influenced on social media and making a purchase in today’s inundated digital landscape.
In today’s world flooded with aspirational content on social media platforms, the journey from admiration to ownership often feels like an uncharted maze. Recognizing this problem firsthand, I was driven to establish LehLah- a solution aimed at simplifying the path from inspiration to effortless acquisition.
At LehLah, our mission is clear: to bridge the disconnect between being inspired by what we see online and the ability to easily make those desired purchases. We’re dedicated to redefining the online shopping experience landscape by offering a seamless integration between inspiration and acquisition.
Social commerce is a dynamic and rapidly evolving field. How do you see LehLah contributing to the evolution of the fashion industry in terms of technology and social interactions?
Ashna Ruia: LehLah stands at the forefront of revolutionising the fashion industry through its innovative approach to social commerce and technology. The platform serves as a solution to the challenges associated with shopping discovery by simplifying the process of purchasing products endorsed by influencers.
The app’s technology is designed to assist creators in sharing their curated looks by tagging each product with shoppable links to LehLah’s partner brands including Myntra, Shoppers Stop, Sugar Cosmetics, Westside, Limese and many more. This unique feature allows consumers to seamlessly shop directly from the creator’s content with just one click.
This eliminates the need for users to manually seek and search for links across various accounts and platforms, significantly simplifying the shopping experience. Additionally, LehLah empowers creators by enabling them to monetise their content, earning a commission for each sale generated through their posts.The ecosystem created by LehLah is designed for mutual benefit.
The platform ensures increased sales for brands, a simplified discovery and shopping process for customers, and monetisation opportunities for creators. With a mission to enhance the joy of shopping, LehLah aims to provide a seamless experience for all stakeholders involved.
How does LehLah leverage technology to enhance the social commerce experience for users? Are there any specific features or innovations that set LehLah apart from other platforms?
Ashna Ruia: LehLah leverages advanced technology to redefine the social commerce experience, distinguishing itself through several innovative features. The LehLah app takes centre stage, offering a user-friendly interface designed for seamless navigation and discovery of creators. Additionally, we designed a web version for users preferring quick access to their favourite creators shoppable looks.
Creators can attach links to their shoppable content on various social media platforms in order to drive more sales. Our commitment to meeting the preferences of our tech-savvy audience has been pivotal in tailoring LehLah’s experience. This user-centric approach enhances the overall social commerce experience, setting LehLah apart by delivering a dynamic and intuitive platform aligned with users’ habits and expectations.
Social commerce often involves close collaboration with creators. How does LehLah facilitate and enhance these partnerships for the benefit of both sellers and influencers?
Ashna Ruia: LehLah plays a pivotal role in fostering and elevating partnerships between creators and brands within the realm of social commerce. Our platform empowers creators to monetize their organic content, which often goes unrewarded despite resonating with their audience.
By allowing creators to integrate curated looks with shopping links, each purchase made through these links earns the creator a portion of the sales. This system opens avenues for creators to generate significant income, especially when their content gains viral traction, reaching a wider audience.
Crucially, LehLah extends this opportunity to smaller creators who may still be establishing their presence and struggling to secure brand collaborations. Our platform serves as a means for them to monetize their efforts, ensuring a sustainable income flow during the early stages of their creative journey when obtaining sponsorships can be challenging. These collaborations not only benefit creators but also prove advantageous for our partner brands by driving sales and expanding their reach.
In what ways do you envision the future of social commerce, and how is LehLah positioned to adapt to emerging trends and consumer preferences?
Ashna Ruia: The future trajectory of social commerce is anticipated to revolve around personalised experiences and seamless integration encompassing customised product suggestions, embedded shopping functionalities within social platforms for smoother transactions, and augmented reality (AR) applications allowing virtual try-ons for fashion and beauty products.
Community-driven features encouraging user-generated content and reviews are poised to gain prominence, promoting a sense of belonging among users.
LehLah’s current business model, fostering a thriving ecosystem for customers, creators, and brands, aligns with these trends. We may aim to further personalise experiences based on user preferences. This adaptability ensures LehLah remains in sync with evolving consumer needs, embracing a dynamic social commerce landscape.
For aspiring entrepreneurs in the fashion tech space, what advice would you give based on your own experiences with LehLah?
Ashna Ruia: Embarking on my own entrepreneurial journey has taught me valuable lessons, particularly within the dynamic world of fashion. It’s crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs in this space to remain agile and pivot in response to the evolving business landscape.
As technology advances rapidly, so does the fashion industry, demanding a proactive approach to adapt and embrace these changing dynamics to stay ahead of the curve. In my own experience as well, I have had to constantly iterate my plan and model based on consumer habits, patterns, and market demands.
What challenges did you face in the initial stages of building LehLah, and how did you overcome them?
Ashna Ruia: Initially, LehLah was a totally different concept- our vision centred around creating a platform that utilised behaviour-based algorithms to help users curate their own fashion looks. I think the most challenging part was being so invested in one particular idea and then being okay to totally slash it and be ready to work with something else as soon as we did not see any proof of concept.
As a founder, I was extremely attached to the first idea and wanted it to work in any circumstance. However, I think the biggest challenge was just learning to let things go and keep moving and experimenting till I found something that showed early signs of progress.
Overcoming this obstacle required flexibility and adaptability. We recalibrated our approach, transforming our initial concept to better align with consumer needs and preferences. Additionally, we emphasized the importance of assembling a cohesive team with a shared drive and mindset. This unity enabled us to turn our ideas into a tangible reality and navigate the early challenges effectively.
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