In conversation with

Eshita Kabra-Davies

Founder of By Rotation

eshita kabra-davies

Introduction

Introduction

The fashion industry is notorious for its impact on the environment. But peer-to-peer rental app – By Rotation is switching up the narrative.

Founder Eshita Kabra-Davies dreamt up her business while on honeymoon in her home state of Rajasthan, India. Since then, the platform has grown to a popular community of ‘Rotators’ – swapping, lending, and flaunting their high-end looks all over Instagram.

Social media aside, sustainability is at the heart of this young start up. They’re on a mission to disrupt the wasteful and unethical practices of fast fashion, exchanging that for a model that appeals to the fashion and sustainability conscious consumer.

“It’s just so interesting learning from these brilliant minds about how much they care about sustainability and circularity and the environment as a whole.”

We spoke to Eshita about the beauty of borrowing, the value of community and the inspiration behind By Rotation’s tone of voice.

Question and Answer

Can you tell us about the moment that you decided to launch By Rotation? And how did you decide on the name?

The third last day of my honeymoon, which was in the desert of Rajasthan, in India. My husband and I were itching to do some work. We were just like, ‘yeah, we’ve relaxed for too long. Let’s think about schemes and dreams.’ So I told him about this idea that I had, which was: it would be amazing if I could borrow the clothing of all these very fashionable women that we see on Instagram all the time. And how I wanted to create a community where you could do that. So a platform, a marketplace type of business model. As for the name By Rotation, I think I really wanted the word ‘rotation’ or ‘rotate’ in the name. And I started thinking about whether it’d be ‘With Rotation’ ‘In Rotation’. ‘By Rotation’ sounded like it had the best ring to it. And I think it was also grammatically correct.

By Rotation places huge value on its community. Why is it so important to the brand?

Commercially speaking, we are a two sided marketplace. Our lenders and our renters are our customers. So it’s actually very important for us to keep them happy and ensure that we are servicing them and providing a safe and fun place to rotate items with each other.

On the less commercial side, it just makes sense for brands to start talking more to their actual paying customers, and make their marketing efforts all centred around the actual customers. And I think a lot of brands haven’t done that in the past, especially fashion brands. They always keep an arm’s length relationship with their actual paying customers and make it all about celebrities and models and influencers. So for me, I just wanted to make sure when it was just an average paying customer with a desk job, completely unrelated to the fashion and media industries – I wanted to make sure that these people were included in the narrative that we were telling.

Who is the enemy that By Rotation is fighting to defeat?

It’s got to be fast fashion. The Inditex, the H&M groups, the Shein, the Boohoo. This is really the market that we’re trying to displace and disrupt. It’s just crazy how much ammunition they have. And we’re trying to convince people that instead of buying fast fashion and sometimes single use fashion that ends up being discarded to landfills that affect Asian and African countries, we’re trying to get people to borrow and share high quality pieces amongst each other.

I think the reason why they have such a platform, you know, Boohoo and Shein and Zara and all that is because it’s very socio economically inclusive. Rich people shop at Zara, people who are not that well off shop at Zara. Everyone can afford it. And that’s what I want to make sure By Rotation also does because diversity and inclusivity is also about socio- economics, it’s not just about race and religion.

How would you describe By Rotation’s tone of voice, and how did you arrive there?

I would say we are very friendly and approachable. That’s the kind of brand that we want to be. The kind of team that we are, I believe, and that’s how the platform has a reputation for being just very fun. A cool app to use when you’re trying to discover and borrow someone’s style. And I think that’s important. It’s important to be a friendly brand, with what we’re doing, especially which is a peer to peer model. We can’t just be elusive and exclusive or elitist. It’s a premium brand without being snooty. And it’s aspirational, but it’s not like, ‘you can’t be a part of it’ aspirational.

We do want to make sure you feel comfortable. And then because I think that’s how we also get a lot of earned media because people feel so welcome to be a part of the By Rotation community that they always tag us, because they love being featured as well. It’s just super cute.

People think, ‘oh, you have over 100k followers on Instagram, so you’re a very big company.’ But actually, it’s just a team of five of us full-time. As I mentioned, the company is actually much smaller than people think – we’re still very much a startup.

“It's important to be a friendly brand, with what we're doing, especially, which is a peer to peer model. We can't just be elusive and exclusive or elitist. ”

If you could swap wardrobes (for a day) with any fictional character/person, who would it be, and why?

I mean, this is going to be a bit obscure, but if you know it, you’ll get what I mean. Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development. The actress has sadly passed recently. But she wears a lot of tweed coordinates. So she’ll wear a tweed blazer with a matching skirt. She’s got a really cute bob. Very chic. I think that’s how I want to look when I’m older. Just very well put together. That is my vibe.

If you could borrow marketing strategies from any other brand, who would it be and why?

Durex. They do hilarious ads, and their campaigns. Obviously, they have crazy amounts of firepower, like the amount of money they have. But they always do funny tongue in cheek ads and I want to do that. I want to be playful as a brand. Playful and fun.

We are a peer to peer model. So I think something that’s maybe more relatable is Airbnb. I think they have a very friendly and approachable vibe. And they do curate things. I think the newsletters that I get from them are very relevant. Depop’s done a great job at keeping the focus on community. And their branding is very strong, very edgy, but of course that is a representation of their community.

Eshita's Storylist

Books

  1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. South of the border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
  3. Sputnick Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
  4. Zero to One by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

Magazines

  1. Homes & Gardens
  2. Courier
  3. Monacle
  4. Kinfolk
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