Karuna Reddy dumped a fashion career to wedding and event planning. She tells her story in our #PassionToPaycheck series.
Thirteenth Century mystic poet Rumi’s words, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray,” have inspired many to follow their heart. You see them draw a deep breath and stride out of their comfort zone to take the road less travelled. Karuna Reddy is one of them. For nine years, she was into fashion consulting and art direction before switching to event planning.
Her story begins with an internship in Auroville in Pondicherry at a small-scale, organic cotton and dyes unit, which put her through the paces in design. “This experience exposed me to people and friends who are interested in the arts and design field and continue to inspire me creatively,” she says.
When she relocated to Mumbai in 2010, she started assisting and later gaining recognition for her work as a stylist. Gradually, with positive feedback, she got an opportunity to become an independent stylist and an art director for commercials, promos and shoots.
Mumbai, the city of dreams, gives an opportunity to every struggler to not only make it but also teaches him or her to be confident and independent. So, from low-budget shoots, she got an opportunity to assist in the Lakmé Fashion Week, print shoots for Nestle Ensure and Airtel 4G, Television Commercials for Fair & Lovely, VKC Pride and many more.
“The transition [to event planning] was organic in nature and a natural progression to my interest in designing spaces and house interiors. Word-of-mouth publicity and appreciation as an art director paved the way for small events. And then, at one of the corporate events, a guest trusted me with making her big day even more memorable. Her wedding marked the beginning for me as a wedding planner,” reminisces Karuna.
She plans events, weddings in particular, with great imagination and eye for the minutest detail. Her previous creative experience comes into full play at the arrangements, which make for abiding memories for her clients. Today, she is a successful entrepreneur. Her dynamic presence on social media also helps her gain clients.
With disarming candour, she says, “The scariest moment was when I was officially handed the keys to my new office along with the registration certificate of the company. We had hustled for a few weeks to piece this together, and when it finally [fell into place], that’s when it hit us that our dreams just got real!”
Things became official in August 2017 when The Mogra Collective finally came into being. Karuna says, “Before The Mogra Collective was formed, we were already designing and planning events for people through word-of-mouth. Over time, people who had previously attended our events started approaching us for projects.”
A sustainable business partnership is one in which the partners have a complementing skill sets. “Malvika Podder, my friend, business partner and relentless supporter, has always been there for me. Her constant encouragement and belief in me makes this journey and partnership extremely smooth,”says Karuna. Malvika is an alumnus of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Indian School of Business (ISB, Hyderabad). She is a gourmet chef and handles the finances and logistics apart from the menu curation.
Today, The Mogra Collective operates in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. Karuna handles the clients for corporate events, launches and weddings. With the services being a bundled package of décor, menu curation, planning and designing the entire event, and bridal and personal styling, the budget touches a flooring of Rs. 25 lakh.
Karuna says her inspiration comes from the architecture and colour-scape of the cities and the visual merchandising of traditional Indian markets. Every wedding is unique and so is every dream, smile, and the last-minute crisis associated with it. What keeps her on her toes is the helping people create a memorable day with indelible, cherished memories. “The constant words of encouragement and immense love that I receive from absolute strangers at such events make me believe that this is what I was destined to do,” she sums it up.