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Shruti Bandhari: Ethnic Indian Fashion Entrepreneur

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.

Shruti Bandhari, Ethnic Indian Fashion EntrepreneurShe 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. 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.



10 Best Success Secrets for Women Entrepreneurs

Success is a combination of thinking right and doing right, according to Sarika Bhattacharyya of BizDivas. Here are her 10 best success secrets for women entrepreneurs.

1. Be optimistic

2. Avoid Big Mistakes

• No cost to low cost – Use social media liked Facebook, twitter etc to drive your business.
• It is a proven fact that entrepreneurs are today driving economies. Why? We are able to think fast on our feet, we can make changes as needed when we see the markets change. During recession in 2008, it was “dinosaur” companies suffered the most as they tend to move slowly.
• Bring in flexibility in our working style. Maintain a work life balance.
• Never design your lifestyle around your work, instead design business around your lifestyle. Then work becomes your passion.
• Turn your passion into profits. Purpose of business is actually to make profits and not make it a “Secret Hobby”.
• Provide products ir services which audience really “WANTS”. Wants are bigger than needs…trust me we indulge more in wants than needs.

3. Good business model.

Business model needs to be efficient and self sufficient. Cost to Income ratio needs to work in your favour.

4. Learn to embrace risks.

• Get out of your comfort zone.
• Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

5. Stay out of fear – Stay in faith.

• Have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself
• Grow as far as your greatest fear.
• Your biggest fear makes you uncomfortable to be able to reach that big success. Success we seek will only come when we move through the fear.

6. Get inspired.

Learn from inspiring people and surround yourself with people who are there where you want to be.

• Invest in training, education, coaching – Invest in yourself.
• You are the average of five people who surround you the most.
• Master mind: Having a group of successful entrepreneurs with who you would learn and share.

7. Stay on your path.

Not everyone will support your success. Don’t get distracted by criticism. Holding back hurts no one but you.

8. Time management.

Time: we all have 24 hours but how one utilizes it is what makes one rich.

9. Brand yourself.

Marketing yourself is more important than mastery of your skills.

• There are many masters of your trade better than you but are not commercially successful because people don’t know them.
• If you don’t know how to get word around you wont be able to get clients.
• Important to understand how lead generation from offline and online prospects can be converted to buyers and then to repeat buyers.

10. Plan ahead.

Make decisions not from where you are but where you want to be.

Sarika Bhattacharyya, Founder of Biz Divas and Altavis has over 12 years of experience in Financial Services industry having worked with firms such as Merrill Lynch and ICICI Bank in the field of investment banking and wealth management. She is passionate about entrepreneurship development and believes in financial independence for every woman. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband and 5 year old son. She can be reached at

Priya Paul, Chairman, Apeejay Park Hotels

Indian Women Entrepreneurs: Priya Paul, Chairperson, Apeejay Park Hotels

Priya Paul is the epitome of the superwoman. Not only is she the Chairperson of the Hospitality Division of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, which owns the prestigious line of The Park Hotels, she also embraces a multitude of other roles with equal ease and grace.

A successful woman entrepreneur, loyal wife, devoted mother, strong feminist and an active industry supporter, it is clear why she has often been dubbed as the leading lady of the Indian Hospitality Industry.

Some may say that she was born with a silver spoon. The daughter of Surrendra Paul, the founder of the first Park Hotel in Kolkatta, Priya Paul was certain from the tender age if 10 that she was going to grow up to be an entrepreneur. Despite her illustrious lineage, getting there was no easy feat.

Her career decision lay in the hands of her family, who toyed with several industry portfolios including shipping, tea, real estate, construction and financial services before finally settling on the hospitality industry. A decision, which in retrospection, was the perfect career choice for this creative and sociable woman.

Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wellesley College, USA, she returned to India in 1988 to join her father as Marketing Manager of The Park Hotel, New Delhi. She was only 22.

Fate however, had other plans. After her father’s untimely death in 1990, with just two years of experience in the hospitality industry, Priya Paul stepped in to fill her father’s (rather large) shoes as the Chairperson of The Park Hotel chain and there has been no looking back since.

With this creative young entrepreneur leading the reins, the hotel chain soon underwent a transformation. With a vision of turning the hotel into a space where guests did not just stay confined to their rooms but indulged in an experience of luxury and comfort throughout the hotel, she set about creating a hotel that was architecturally unique.

Drawing from her wanderlust and travelling experiences, she managed to create for the first time in India, a hotel chain with sophisticated interiors and decorative themes. Thus, Ms Paul single-handedly pioneered the concept of boutique hotels in India.

Today, The Park Hotel chain is a name to reckon with in the hospitality industry with a nationwide presence in Kolkatta, Chennai, New Delhi, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The hotels have also won international acclaim with the UK’s Tatler magazine rating The Park Hotel (Bangalore) as one of the 101 Best Hotels Worldwide in 2003.  This, incidentally, happens to be Priya Paul’s favourite hotel.

It is not only her hotels which have won national and international recognition. Priya Paul was named the Young Entrepreneur of the year by the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association, India in the year 1999-2000. She was won the Economic Times Business Person of the Year in 2002-2003.

Juggling her many roles as Chairperson of Park Hotel, President if the Hotel Association of India (HAI), member of the National Tourism Advisory Council, founding member of the World Travel Tourism Council India Initiative, member of the board of trustees South Asia Women’s Fund and member of the Advisory Board of Directors, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, are enough to keep anyone’s plate full, but with up-coming hotel projects in Mumbai and other parts of India, there seems to be no task that’s too much for this superwoman.


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Image source YouthKiAwaaz