Sanjana Ratnam, Founder and Designer, No-Ordinary Bride
She ain’t No-Ordinary Entrepreneur
“Selling ice to Eskimos” is an old joke denoting an impossible selling bid. However doing the Impossible is a habit which entrepreneur Sanjana Ratnam mastered when she started selling her own Western wear label in Western countries to Western audiences. After 10 years and counting Sanjana’s venture No Ordinary Bride has made an enviable mark for itself in the USA and UK. She has not only designed for some of the biggest international celebrities but her collections are also available in almost all the international high end boutiques.We decided to bring her story to you, with her take on what it takes to succeed and what it means when an entrepreneur decides to take her own path?
Sanjana Ratnam in conversation with Shradha Sharma from YourStory
YourStory: Sanjana, you have established your name in the international fashion market with your venture No-Ordinary Bride. Give us an insight on what made this happen?
Sanjana: I wanted to design from a very early age and went to pursue design studies in the US. In a way this opened a lot of opportunities for me. While pursuing my design studies, I worked hard to understand the international market and build contacts and network there. Also worked in the US post my studies to gain hands on experience. From the start, I built differentiation in the market with our product and unique positioning – Indian hand embroidery interpreted for Western audience and taste. This was embraced by my clientele with open hands and since then there has been no looking back. Today we have a brilliant 80 member team in India and 4 in US who work with passion to continuously raise the boundary. I spend my time between India, UK and US.
YourStory: How would you define your entrepreneurial journey so far? Tell us about your lows and highs as an entrepreneur?
Sanjana: Entrepreneurship for me has been like a relationship- many highs and many heart aches. Its said a great relationship is an experience of all emotions and entrepreneurship is the same. I have enjoyed every bit of it and look forward to the journey with the same passion as when I started 10 years back.
YourStory: What excites you about No Ordinary Bride?
Sanjana: We are regularly working with young women to make their most important day very special. No Ordinary Bride believes that No Bride is Ordinary and with our collections Brides do transform themselves. Constantly innovating and raising the bar in terms of design keeps me excited.
YourStory: How would you define success in the fashion industry and how do you measure your achievements?
Sanjana: In the fashion industry it’s not the volume of sales that defines success but who wears your labels. I have been lucky that my designs have been worn by some of the big Hollywood stars, Socialites and “Fashionistas” alike. Retailing out of Renee Starauss in Beverley Hills has been one such high point. In fact Renee is doing a reality show, where 7 designers are participating and I am the only Asian designer and it’s good.
YourStory: You are the Ambassador for the “Dell Take Your Own Path” campaign. Has technology played a key role in your business and if so how?
Sanjana: Purchasing Bridal wear is an important decision for women globally. We have observed that purchase happens faster when girls come to the shop with their mothers. But with nuclear households in the US and mostly mothers and daughters staying in different cities, I realized that would be brides remained uncertain about what to buy. I thought about this problem and came up with the idea of having Video Conferencing facility in the shop. Post which we witnessed a dramatic shift in the buying behavior, girls could video conference their mothers and make them a part of the buying process. This also reduced the cost as mothers sitting in from any part of the country could be part of this very important decision of their daughters’ lives. My Dell Vostro laptop with in built videoconferencing helps me do this.
YourStory: I am sure being an entrepreneur, you must be all eager to further your horizons. What are your expansion plans?
Sanjana: I have always been interested in the South American market (Chile, Brazil etc) and hope to enter that region soon, also looking at actively positioning our new range in UK. I am also looking forward to doing a Bollywood movie. Karan Johar has brought the trend of theme based apparels into Indian cinema and I will be very happy to design for some interesting Indian projects.
YourStory: Your advice to all the upcoming fashion designers and entrepreneurs
Sanjana: It might sound clichéd but it’s important to have Self Belief to be able to achieve something. No mountain is high enough for a determined mind. Every distress can bring in an opportunity; keep your eyes and ears opened. Network with the right people and constantly try to build your edge through your products. As a fashion designer if you are able to create your differentiation, authenticity of style and approach then doors will automatically open up.
We at YourStory are super impressed with this young woman, her spark, candor and unique style which comes across as I sit with her for this interview. We wish her all the best as she continues to take the Indian design sensibilities global.
To know more about Sanjana Ratnam log on to www.dell.co.in/takeyourownpath
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