The year was 2009. Monika Pal Sood of Delhi was looking for a kiosk space for her fashion jewellery products in a mall at Gurgaon. Recollecting the day Monika says, “The mall director laughed and said, ‘we’ll give you a corner on the third floor to put a table and chair. I’m sure your business won’t work, so you can stay for free for a month because after that you will leave anyway’. One month later, I went back to him, paid rent for the month I had used the space and signed an agreement with the mall for next 11 months. I still retain that kiosk at the same location in the mall and have established Points of Sale in India’s Top 5 malls.”
Monika is the Co-founder and Head of Design and Procurement at Youshine – a specialty retail fashion jewellery and accessories startup. Before starting Youshine, Monika was running a successful hi-fashion apparel export business from 1996-2004. She took a sabbatical to start a family and by 2009 was itching to get back to entrepreneurship.
Talking about the inception of her startup Monika says, “Fashion jewellery came to my mind on one of my trips abroad. As a customer, I saw so much variety available at very attractive prices. This got me thinking on why the same could not be available in India in the form of an Indian brand catering to young, cosmopolitan Indian women who are looking for trendy yet affordable fashion jewellery and accessories.”
I saw a clear “white space” in the Indian market and decided to go for it. In the early days, I was buying fashion jewellery “off the shelf” re-branding it and selling it. Over time, I realized the importance of designing and collecting our own range, so now all of Youshine’s fashion jewellery is designed in-house. This not only fulfils me, but also has helped the business immensely as each piece we put out in the market is unique to Youshine.
Monika looks after the design at Youshine and oversees each and every product that is launched under the brand to ensure it stays in line with the goal of being on top of globally-trending fashion concepts. The
fashionara from Delhi has a clear vision about her business and she enumerates it with sheer enthusiasm.“My vision is to firmly establish Youshine as the preferred brand for Indian shoppers in the realm of affordable fashion jewellery and accessories. Youshine extracts full value from the business system – right from designing to manufacturing to branding to retail. This ensures sustainability of the business and organic growth as Youshine owns and operates all its retail touch points. At Youshine, we believe that there is value both in offline retail and online retail. In fact, we have consistently invested in our physical (offline) network and virtual (online) network since Day 1. So, we are big believers in ‘omnichannel retail’ and have followed this model much before it became a buzzword in industry circles.”
She spearheads all aspects of fashion and lifestyle, bringing her prowess in the domain to curate a highly specialised and cutting-edge collection of jewellery and accessories for Indian consumers. Monika is a fashion expert and has in-depth knowledge of the Indian market and a keen eye for trends and developments in the international fashion space. Her profound knowledge of hi-fashion helps Youshine get a clear advantage in a fairly cluttered online and offline market place. With her innate understanding of international fashion trends and the Indian market, Youshine is perfectly placed to touch a chord with the target group of young, cosmopolitan women with disposable incomes and nifty purchasing power.
Fashion for Monika is a ‘state of mind’. Delving deeper she says,
So long as one is able to be confident with what one wears and is able to carry it off, there is really no limit to “fashion-ising” oneself. Fashion is not only about external adornments, but a lot about inner beauty as well. Fashion can be occasion specific or can depend on how one feels on a particular day. It could be a formal office suit, an Indian heavy suit or even a cotton sari to work.
With two biological kids and a brain child, Youshine, to care for, Monika struggles to balance work and family life. She enjoys driving frequently with her family for short breaks and spending time with her loved ones. The dream to make Youshine the #1 brand for fashion jewellery and accessories in India by 2018 is what keeps her going. “It’s a big dream,” says the designer and quickly adds, “But if you don’t leap, you won’t fly.”
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