MAKERS OF MUMBAI: NISHCHAY GOGIA OF MOOCHWALA
Moochwala was launched in August 2015 with t-shirts dedicated to lovers of moustaches and beards. Since then, it has steadily grown into the one-stop shop for all things mooch, making moustache-inspired items like quirky bowties, mugs, mobile covers, diaries, and more. We caught up with its founder Nishchay Gogia who tells us about its origins, social causes, and what he’s learned about Mumbai’s shopping habits.
WORDS BY AIKITA JARRAH
The City Story: How and when did Moochwala’s journey begin?
Nishchay Gogia: It was [in 2015]. I was planning a solo trip to Spain and wanted to carry a couple of fun graphic t-shirts with me. I was a bit disappointed to find there were only two options available anywhere I looked that played around with the concepts of moustaches and beards, and I already owned them.
While away, I noticed that beard trend wasn’t isolated to India; it was all over the world. So once I got back I got in touch with my designer friend Amrita Saluja and discussed the possibility of working to fill this gap in graphic t-shirts together, and Moochwala began. A lot of names were scouted at first, and we almost locked on “Moustache Mania”, but we found Moochwala to be more generic. Like you see someone with a beard and moochwala–daadheewala is the first thing that comes to mind. It makes it easier for the brand to travel.
TCS: Do you have a background in design?
NG: No, I don’t. I’m not a design person, I’m an ideas person. I enjoy cracking quotes. As a creative director in television, I’m good with keeping track of trends and manage to come up with t-shirt around that. So when Wild Wild Country was all that everyone could talk about, we came up with a t-shirt that said “Wild Wild Beard”. Also, some of our products and designs are seasonal. We have Moochwala rakhis that pop in during Raksha Bandhan that have been very popular. Also during Diwali we’ve had tops with quotes centred around the festival.
TCS: What is the connection between Moochwala and Mumbai? Do you consider the city a nurturing space for a business like yours?
NG: Definitely. I’m a Bombay boy; born and brought up in the city. Mumbai is a city where we have people from all over the country. It’s a great testing ground for a brand, in that sense. You get such a wide and varied sample to test your products on.
The city’s pulse, the pulse of the people, and the way they shop, changes every two stations. What I mean is, a Bandra and a Khar shop in a particular way, but a Mahim and a Matunga shop in a completely different way. Every two stations there’s a different shopping pattern. There are a few of our designs that work in a particular belt and others that do not work in a particular belt within Mumbai itself, and that provides a huge learning curve for any brand.
TCS: Since all your products revolve around the mooch and beard, does your name limit your customer base to men?
NG: Moochwala is for lovers of beards and moustaches. Having one – or both – is not a prerequisite to being a patron of the brand. The break-up of our customer base is something like 60 women to 40 men. I must say a large part of the credit goes to my good friend/guinea pig, TV actor Nakuul Mehta.
He has almost every t-shirt that Moochwala has ever made. I test new stuff on him. Most of his following is female. Nakuul wears one of our shirts, he puts it up on social media, and I get five orders for that t-shirt almost instantly. Also, most of our t-shirts are what you’d call boyfriend fit t-shirts. We also have crop tops and V-necks for the ladies.
TCS: Moochwala is more than just a brand offering merchandise. You’ve also often voiced an opinion on social matters.
NG: Yes. Moochwala has a big mooch, a big beard, and a bigger mouth. We’re not afraid to talk about things that matter. It’s great to have a platform with some 5000-6000 followers where I have the opportunity to put something out that I feel strongly about.
In the past, we had this tie up with the film Phullu to put an end to period shaming and talk about menstrual hygiene somewhere in 2016.
As a brand, we also want to stand for people that are not afraid to talk. Another one of the issues I was eager to address was awareness for depression that often leads to suicide. All of our t-shirts come with a back print. The idea is whenever you see someone with a Moochwala logo on his or her back the concept was, “I’ve got your back you can talk to me.”
TCS: Is there something that’s stayed with you since the start of Moochwala?
NG: One of the most heart-warming experiences since the launch of Moochwala has been watching the response to our campaign Bhaag Anil Bhaag. We wanted to raise the funds to allow Anil Kumar, a 38-year-old woodcutter from Kerala who was shortlisted for the Asian Masters Athletic Championship, to get to China and compete.
So I came up with the idea, and Nakuul was the face of the campaign where we sold t-shirts with the slogan “Be BadAsso”. The response we got was phenomenal. We had orders coming in from Pakistan, Dubai, South Africa, the UK, the US, and everywhere. We reached our goal in three days. To make such an impact it was a big win for us.
TCS: So how do we get our hands on some Moochwala goodies?
NG: We’re reachable on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A simple Direct Message on any of these platforms enquiring about our products will get you a swift response. Our transactions are currently only via PayTM and online payments. We deliver all over the country and internationally as well. We also do pop-ups at fairs where and when we can.