The Making of Nine Yards: Shweta & Heetal on creating an agency focusing on the 'She Story'

Sneha Yadav
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Nine Yards

Co-Founders, Shweta Iyer and Heetal Dattani, narrate their story of donning entrepreneurial hats with Nine Yards to re-interpret the ‘she’ perspective for brands.

Through two-decades-long career in advertising, both Shweta Iyer and Heetal Daatani have been part of building numerous brands that speak to women consumers. The Nine Yards story stems from an interesting insight.

“We are passionate about deep diving into this story and creating work that speaks to the woman behind the ‘consumer’. It's high time that someone infuses the current narrative around Indian women with a fresher, more connected perspective,” shares Dattani.

The duo shares that R & D revealed that up to 80-85% of all buying decisions are made or influenced by her. This need prompted the duo to create Nine Yards, a communications consultancy attempting to weave a unique woman’s perspective into brand stories, making them relevant for today.

The Nine Yards Objective

The current narrative around Indian women across socio-economic strata is riddled with stereotypes. The need of the hour is to bust these traditional as well as progressive stereotypes and tell the woman’s story through a more balanced lens. For brands that specifically talk to women, Nine Yards looks forward to enriching that connection by deep-diving into fresher conversations that are more relevant and rooted.

Data shows that there are shifts emerging even within categories that are traditionally seen as male dominant, such as finance, real estate, and automobiles. It makes sense for brands to employ a more inclusive tone in their thinking, communication, and actions in this changing landscape.

What's in the name?

“Nine Yards stems from the traditional saree that expresses the grace and power of the female, something that's not fully explored by brands today” - Dattani.  

“We’re here to change that. Nine yards is also the length we’ll go, to find the right threads of the "she" story to weave into the way brands think, speak and act across mediums that are right for them,” she adds

Behind the Scenes

Data shows that today, whether it’s Bharat or India the role, identity, and influence of women is growing, giving women a much louder voice in shaping behavior and choices, not just their own, but that of their families and society as a whole.

Dattani states, “This goes on to prove that if a brand wants to stay relevant, it needs to factor in this growing segment. The way to do that is to make more meaningful connections with our tribe by recognizing that women are not just biologically and psychologically, but also ‘shopologically’ different from men. This is what we call the ‘she’ story”.

She further informs that their story stems from this unique perspective. “Our learnings come from listening to the woman behind the ‘consumer’. We understand her purchasing journey, her triggers, what speaks to her not just intellectually but also emotionally. We’ve learned that the ‘how to say’ is as important as the ‘what to say’.”

Rather than shrinking it and pinking it and replacing old

“traditional” stereotypes with new “progressive” ones, Nine Yards as a

communication consultancy wants to help brands unlock and become a part of the

“she” story”


With a belief that the growth story of every brand is linked in some shape or form to the progress and growth story of the Indian woman, Nine Yards offer a new perspective across every dimension - from brand identity and packaging to omnichannel communication, content creation, and retail design.

“As women who have spent a number of years building and marketing brands, we feel the time has come to texturize the way businesses connect with the women of our country. We are a Today, brands need to listen more and find a way of becoming a part of the conversation rather than the traditional intrusive advertising approach. We don’t see communication just through the lens of mediums, but as an expression of ideas through conversations around the brand,” highlights Dattani.

The consultancy is keen on associating not just with women-centric brands, where the opportunity is huge, but also with brands in categories traditionally seen as ‘male'.

Team Size

Iyer informs that currently, they are a very lean team. “This is a deliberate move, as it allows us to collaborate with various skillsets across geographies.”  

Pandemic and a New Start - Challenges

The only challenges Iyer and Dattani faced were from a logistics point of view. The paperwork needed for the set-up took much longer than it would normally have, as courier services, banking facilities are all currently operating with lean structures thanks to the lockdown.

Iyer adds, “The other thing that Heetal and I had to learn was to replace facetime with phone and video chats. While we didn’t initially see this as an ideal situation, considering we are at such an early stage of our journey, we’ve come to realize that this way of communication is more efficient and it teaches us to prioritize and stay focused on the tasks we have at hand.”

Also Read: The Grey-Autumn acquisition story: A match made in heaven!

Coping with Business Challenges

While this is a tough time for most, the founder duo is keeping optimism levels high and can already see marketing spends opening up.

“Our optimism also comes from the fact that we address a real need gap. By speaking in a more inclusive tone towards women, brands across categories can make a real difference in the way they are received,” Iyer opines.

She exemplifies further that as women, who own our own vehicles and enjoy road trips, we have often wondered why automobile brands largely address only men in their communication.

This deeper understanding of women - the decision-makers across most purchases in our country is where Nine Yards’ expertise and optimism come from.

Key learnings from the Past

  • Lean structures work.
  • Create teams according to skill sets and not geographies
  • Walk along with clients through their journey, demonstrating through their self-understanding
  • Ideas don’t work in isolation. If they don’t solve a business problem, they aren’t the right solution.

“While targets and numbers are integral to most businesses, especially in this economic slowdown, we would like to commit ourselves to our primary objective of doing justice to our story and making great connections between brands and women consumers,” says Iyer.  

Nine Yards - The Changemaker

The first step in adding She Story to brands is evolving with the women consumer. “We need to map and chalk out the best connections that a brand can make with its women consumers – whether this means introducing interventions based on women’s consumption behavior at the product level, or including a woman’s perspective in the brand’s storytelling,” she signs out.

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