Tiruppur, a nondescript town in Tamil Nadu, has been a global garment export hub for many years now. Nearly every large global fashion brand has a deep trade relationship with the town. It was therefore natural for VG Sivaraj, a resident of Tiruppur, to set up a small garment export company with just Rs 50,000 and 1000 sq ft area of space. That was 1999 and Sivaraj’s business saw reasonable exports and success for the next 13 years.

This forced yearlong break due to the shutdown (of factories) gave me a reason to rethink my business strategy for the post-internet era.
VG Sivaraj, Owner of the knitwear brand Espresso
Espresso owner VG Sivaraj

The shutdown that sparked an idea

Cut to 2012, several factories in Tiruppur shut down in a dyeing pollution case. An incident that seemed unfortunate for many residents and businessmen of Tirrupur marked new beginnings for Sivaraj. “This forced yearlong break due to the shutdown from work gave me a reason to rethink my business strategy for the post-internet era,” he says. Sivaraj wanted to take advantage of the newfound ease of doing business and the immediacy with which a good business can take off online. That’s the story of how coffee lover Sivaraj founded his online t-shirt brand, Espresso.

Going global

Further inspired by the ROI and convenience of doing business online, Sivaraj signed up with Amazon in 2015 and started selling Espresso t-shirts directly to consumers in the US. Initially, Espresso sales amounted to about $25-30 per day. But there was a spike on Prime Day and it was no small, unnoticeable spike. Espresso clocked in a total of $10,000 in orders in a single day! “It was a day that changed Espresso forever. Since then, there has been no looking back for us,” Sivaraj says. He further adds that he religiously reads reviews and uses all the feedback in continuous product improvement.

Expanding turf

It is little surprise that with Sivaraj and his team’s ethos and hard work and easy access to a much larger volume of international customers, Espresso now records an astounding turnover of 100 orders amounting to $800-1000 per day. Motivated by the success of his homegrown brand, Sivaraj is now looking to expand his business with Amazon in the UK as well. Exciting times ahead!