EDII Alumni Speak-up Series 3#: When East met West by Ayrton Mayengbam (Ayrton Clothing)

Ayrton Mayengbam (PGDM-BE 2014-2016)

Ayrton Clothing

Ayrton Mayengbam is an example of faith in self; he affirms how determination can steer passion, and help break the barriers of language, boundary and customs, to rise and shine. Ayrton hails from an affluent family of Manipur. He was schooled in Delhi for better prospects but as he admits, “I was an average student. Infact, I never planned my life with my education in mind. I was a rebel. If someone said that a particular thing was out of my reach, I would put in all means to achieve it. I have been a rebel and let me confess, I loved being one.”

Ayrton hails from a family which is into the business of construction. But he never saw himself joining his dad’s business. The reason he gives is, “It’s not in me to take orders from anybody, not even from my father; that was also the reason why I have always wanted to set up my business. Being my own boss fascinated me.”

After completing his education in Bengaluru, Ayrton wanted to go to Australia for studying Management but because his college results were declared late, he could not apply for the spring session. Left with no other option, he started exploring possibilities in India. EDII’s entrepreneurship course appealed to him as it was in consonance with his ultimate goal. Also, Gujarat being renowned for its business mindedness, coming to the state with the dream of becoming an entrepreneur somewhere instilled a curiosity and hope in him.

However, Ayrton’s mind was not entirely in EDII and he started with it as a stop-gap arrangement but very soon, as he says, “I found a new lease of life here. I had wanted to ultimately join an Australian university but six months into the PGDM-BE course and I knew that this was what I had always been looking for. EDII gave me a platform to think about entrepreneurship in a systematic way.”

The next important step for Ayrton was to identify a business opportunity. His father is a construction baron in Manipur, and he and his family wanted Ayrton to join the construction business back home. But, Ayrton wanted to be on his own; he wanted to carve his own identity. His search for business opportunity was leading him to a no-man’s land when at a party, his school friend reminded him of his creativity in designing denim jeans. Ayrton was popular among his friends for designing his own denims. Ayrton never bought readymade jeans for himself; instead he had designed every pair of jeans he owned. The suggestions instantly went down with Aryton and alongside pursuing his course at EDII; he started exploring the possibilities of getting denims manufactured. As he says, “I started enjoying my errands to the local market, the fabric suppliers and the wholesalers. I realised this was my passion. Also, I had grown up under the informal mentorship of my grandmother who was a fashion diva and a jewellery designer in her own times. Every aspect was now hugely impacting my decision to venture into the field. I felt it was always in me; just that I had never jolted it.”

Ayrton got some 200 pairs of jeans manufactured using the pocket money he had saved, and started selling these among his friends at EDII. Encouraged by this, he ordered 500 more pairs. But this time, the order was not executed to his satisfaction. “I learnt my first lesson. I had outsourced everything and had taken things for granted. This failure taught me how important it is to focus on even the minute details when it comes to business. I sold these at a very cheap price. I was often mocked but I bore it all, drawing a lesson from even failure and every mockery only because I wanted to have the last laugh.”

By the time Ayrton graduated from EDII, he had the fabric suppliers lined up, the tailors in place and a partnership arrangement with a local businessman to initiate the business. The first few months were tough as finances posed a major challenge. On several days, he went without two square meals. Ayrton had refused to accept financial help from his father who had initially disapproved of his business. He wanted to fight back every odd and prove his mettle. Thanking EDII faculty, Ayrton shares, “The milestone-based learning at EDII got me ready to create a better roadmap for myself. Financial training and able mentorship made me research the systems of creating denim. Eventually, sheer hard work clubbed with faculty guidance showed me the way. It was only because of my training that I could work within limited budget, handle manpower and succeed in a state where I had come just two-and-a-half years ago.”

Ayrton finds Ahmedabad a great place to create new designs. He believes that while East gave him the direction, the western end of the country gave him the entrepreneurial route. Today, Ayrton’s denims have found comfortable market in Uttar Pradesh, Guwahati, Assam, Manipur and Rajkot. He has also initiated work towards floating textile export house and launching cotton trousers. With a capacity to roll out 10,000-15,000 denims a month, Ayrton lives life by the motto – life is short.

This young entrepreneur has his growth strategy perfectly in place and is focussing single-mindedly on the three most important aspects of business – product quality, brand-building and market.

Fighting back is Ayrton’s biggest trait and he is determined to move ahead. “It’s now that I have got a new lease of life,” he signs off.