Wear your viewpoint

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Think a bright yellow autorickshaw with a red beacon and a slogan which reads: ‘Power to aam’. Wondering where to catch hold of the beacon rickshaw? At ‘I am aam’. This newly-launched brand is custom-making t-shirts with eye-catching prints and funky political slogans, adding to the election campaign fervour gripping the nation right now.

‘I am aam’ is a fresh new brand empowering everyone to express their opinions and aspirations through the cool medium of funky t-shirts. “The ideology behind making the tees is to provide the common man a simple medium to express his views. Nowadays, a lot of people, especially the youth, get their tees customised in order to spread a particular message. So, we are providing a canvas to express your opinion,” says Gargi Prasad who handles the firm’s marketing along with Neha Shah, the marketing director for the brand.

I am aam is a part of ShopImagine ( an online boutique selling luxury lingerie and stylish apparel ). Founded by Chetan Sayai, an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, ShopImagine came into existence in 2008. “Last year, Chetan made a trip to India and he observed how Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was gaining popularity. He was impressed with the numbers that were willing to associate with the party. We then brainstormed as a team and came up with I am aam and the t-shirts,” explains Neha. The t-shirts, however, are not endorsing any particular political party and anyone can wear them, political affiliation no bar.

The young guns
Kickstarting its operations on January 26, 2014, the website already has 40 odd designs and 100 pre-orders, mostly from metros. “We are also putting up our t-shirts at Either Or store (Sohrab Hall) in Pune. I hope I am aam becomes a platform for people to express their views,” says Neha.
An engineering and economics double graduate from BITS, Pilani, Neha dabbled in the corporate world for a couple of years. A former employee of Morgan Stanley she gave up her job to join e-commerce and began exploring the start-up space in India to satisfy her entrepreneurial bug.

She joined ShopImagine eCommerce Ventures LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) with an objective to head efforts to revamp and relaunch the online shopping portal. For her, it was an exciting journey to explore all facets of e-commerce — be it inventory management, PR, online and offline marketing, new product launches or website design.

Gargi, who handles marketing and PR for ShopImagine, has always been a people’s person. She started her career as a marketing engineer. As time passed, she realised that she wasn’t happy with her job and therefore moved on to pursue a degree in Public Relations from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication. She joined ShopImagine in April 2013, and is thoroughly enjoying her stint with I am aam.

Donate to your party
The online portal enables you to ‘put your money where your mouth is’. So you not only flaunt your t-shirt with your opinion, but also get to help the political party you are supporting. As you check out the website, it asks you to select the party that best represents your aspirations, and the site then donates 100 per cent of the profits from your purchase to that party.

The venture is currently running on word-of-mouth. “We have also participated in a college fest in Mumbai to check out the response of the youth. They have appreciated the entire concept,” says Neha.

I am aam also aims at being completely crowdsourced and already has five freelancers on board along with a bunch of designers from NIFT. “Our merchandising partner is Bengaluru-based ‘Thin Strokes’, which comprises a few designers from NIFT. I am aam also has an ‘artist beat’ programme which invites creative agencies to pitch in. We give them 10 per cent royalty,” says Gargi.

Looking ahead
The initiative is interesting, but will the slogans connect with people post polls? “Yes, of course. The catchphrases are not just election specific. They talk about a myriad of problems and issues that the common man faces today,” says Neha adding, “To spread more awareness about critical issues, we are also trying to tie up with online portals like the Facebook page ‘Frustrated Indians’ and ‘Political Quotient’ in Bengaluru that provides political internships to youngsters.”

The creative duo
Both Neha and Gargi are creative people. Neha is also an amateur street photographer and sells her work at various boutiques. She loves making customised gifts and has recently co-launched her personal creativity blog. To balance her hectic schedule, she practises yoga and is an adventure junkie.

Gargi enjoys freelancing over the weekends. She also loves catching up with friends, attending events and watching films.

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