Armed with passion for artistic excellence and prompted by flair for eclectic designs, Shruti Bhandari has carved a niche of her own in the world of fashion.
Hailing from a lineage of generations involved in manufacturing of fabrics and other creative pursuits, she has always had an artistic bent of mind. From a very early age she knew she wanted to be a designer and decided to branch out and do this on her own.
She holds a degree in Fashion Technology and has designed, under the able tutelage of Sameer Patel for around 7 years, for various celebrities, TV Shows like Indian idol, Nach Baliye etc.
Shruti launched her own Label “Shruti Bhandari” in 2010. The label has its Flagship store on Waterfield Road (Bandra) and also retails at Silhoutte (Juhu).
Her Inspiration is drawn from varied sources and artisan techniques. The label is best known for its exquisitely classic yet stylish and timeless designs.
The collection ranges from Exquisite Indian ethnic wear, Bridals, Trousseau, Gowns, Fashion garments and Tunics for Women to Sherwanis, Jodhpuries and Kurtas for Men.
Naaree.com caught up with Shruti and asked her about her journey, the secrets to her success and what advice she has for other Indian women entrepreneurs.
- What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?
I was working with designer Sameer Patel for seven years and was happy with my job. But after a while, I started feeling limited. I then decided to start my own label. Growth is an important factor in anyone’s career.
Fashion and related things always interested me. As a child I was surrounded by people who had an inclination for art be architecture or fashion. It seemed like a natural progression to me.
- When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?
I started experimenting by wearing my own designs and then hosting small exhibitions. Designing clothes for my relatives gave me the much-needed confidence. This validated that people appreciated my sensibilities.
- What inspired you to start out on your own? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?
I was newly married when I told my husband about starting my own label. He was very supportive. We were struggling with finances to buy a new house and other marriage-related stuff, but he stood like a rock. He also boosted my confidence and spurred me to think big. This gave birth to the Shruti Bhandari label.
- What are all the things that a woman entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?
Besides having a great idea, women entrepreneurs need to look at the practical aspects too. Nowadays women are at par with men in almost every field including business.
However, the mentality of women not being good in business is not completely erased. I feel to enter any field, in this case fashion, women need to be consistent and have unique designs which are still wearable.
- Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?
The question of finding it difficult to consolidate funds is irrelevant if you have a good business plan. This supersedes the gender biases.
My advice to the budding entrepreneurs is to always have a business plan. It helps in getting financers and also, evaluating your business progress.
- What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them?
There were a lot of challenges I had to face while launching my own label. They were both financial and emotional.
Negotiating with people was tough for me as many tried taking advantage of me because I was a woman. They thought I would not know the nitty-gritty involved to make a business work. So I suggest other women entrepreneurs to do their homework well.
- Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?
It is good to have a mentor to guide you. The mentor’s experience and your enthusiasm will reflect in the way the label is brought to the public. The mentor can also help in making a financial plan and achieving and fore sighting business targets.
- How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?
I recruited my staff based on merit and then instincts. Anyways women are not new to recruiting people. We do it all the time be it house helps or drivers.
Surprisingly, recruiting was not a problem but boosting their morale is something that helps in getting the best out of them.
- What are key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?
Patience and passion for the work is the key for any business. One must be a helpful guide and set a good example for others at work.
- How important is social media in building a business today? How has it played a role in helping you build yours?
Practically everyone is on social networking sites these days. Social media is a tool that is readily available to many. It helps to get the business to people individually and has a good connect. For entrepreneurs, it helps us keep a tab on competition.
- Can you share some tips for women entrepreneurs to maintain a balance between work and family life?
When at work be dedicated to work. When at home be there for the family. People feel that family life has to be sacrificed for their career which is unacceptable.
Family is your backbone as those are your roots. Friends may come and go but family stays. Balancing both personal and professional lives is tough but not impossible.