Radhika Gupta is the co-founder of Black Taxi, a retail platform that promotes the work of fashion designers across India & Singapore. Black Taxi was founded in 2011, and has worked with over 1500 independent brands since it started and has served as a launchpad for over 500 of them (90% of which were women led and women founded) .
In 2011, Radhika and her co-founder realized that there were no affordable luxury fashion platforms. They saw that the mid segment market didn’t exist, so they set out to create it. Although that included several challenges, mainly showing customers that affordable luxury was something they wanted. Wondering about the name BLACK TAXI? They decided on "Black" because it's a color that represents style and fashion – and "Taxi" because they saw themselves as serving as a mode of transportation for Indian women entrepreneurs in fashion.
Currently, Radhika is working on her new venture, Raaha, which translates to path. In India, the art and handicrafts sector is the second largest employment generator (after agriculture) – and in India 56.13 per cent of artisans are women. Raaha aims to transform the narrative of the Artisanal and Craft sector in developing economies. Check out Raaha's Instagram page to stay updated!
I had the pleasure of connecting with Radhika, and asking her about her entrepreneurial journey:
What first sparked the idea to start Black Taxi in 2011?
RG: There were 2 distinct factors that sparked the idea of Black Taxi for me- Firstly, my constant search for affordable, ethical and quality fashion and Second, my design school friends who wanted to grow their business but didn’t find targeted avenues to sell their products and interact directly with consumers.
My Co-founder and I quit our full-time jobs, jumped right in and started Black Taxi- A platform offering hand-picked curation of contemporary brands and just a fun place to meet, talk, create and collaborate for women.
We grew very organically over the years, we worked with brands that advocated for innovation, creativity and sustainability and handmade artisanal products, becoming a one stop shop for stakeholders in fashion and promoting women entrepreneurship. Black Taxi has worked with over 1500 small businesses in 10 years, of which 90% were women led and women founded!!!
A previous Black Taxi campaign.
What were some of the first steps you took when starting out? and what were some of the first obstacles you had to overcome?
RG: We had an idea that was new to the retail segment, we knew there was potential but we not sure if there was willingness. Our users were small businesses with limited or no liquid cash to invest, so figuring out a lucrative financial model for them was our focus. We worked on finding brands that understood the need for a platform like ours, the challenge didn’t stop there, now we had a curated selection of brands but no consumer, we started finding marketing partnerships and channels which would generate maximum impact and need minimum investment. Social media became our best friend!
The thing about Indian fashion in 2011 was– there was no access to affordable luxury, handmade and curated products. The mid segment market and demand didn’t exist. Changing that narrative was our biggest obstacle.
What prompted your move to the US?
RG: I moved to the US to be with my partner, traveling back and forth between India and US has been an amazing experience, challenging but very fulfilling. I now have access to two markets. Being in the US made me realize the need to create access for handmade products.
The first published article on Black Taxi in its founding