This woman entrepreneur quit her 18-year corporate career to start her designer brand
Kamalpreet Dhaliwal worked in the corporate world for close to two decades before the call to resume her interest in fashion and creativity turned her into an entrepreneur.
She has led several corporates as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), including Ameriprise Financial (erstwhile American Express), ABN AMRO, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Fisher & Paykel,, and Mint-Hindustan Times. She has spearheaded the launch of multiple brands for companies.
After working for almost 18 years in marketing, Kamalpreet took a year off to travel the world and to think about her next steps. Upon her return, she decided to start her own designer wear brand, Moonbroch Atelier.
"I didn't want to start another plain vanilla designer brand which so many other people were already doing,” Kamalpreet tells HerStory.
At the core of Moonbroch Atelier was Kamalpreet’s desire to stand out and offer wardrobe solutions that are personalised and customised to suit people’s personality, body types, lifestyle, needs, and wants.
Kamalpreet had always been creative. When she was young, she liked to paint and even designed her clothes. Unsure of a career in fashion after graduating from NIFT Delhi with a postgraduate degree in Garment Manufacturing Technology, she chose the world of communications and marketing.
Working as CMO involved a lot of travelling and Kamalpreet never found time to pick outfits. She often picked her outfits in a rush and without much thought. It was a compromise she had to make. Her experience in the corporate world also made her realise that many others were also going through this dilemma.
Seeing a chance to bridge this gap and to rekindle her love for fashion, Kamalpreet launched the premium women’s designer wear brand in May 2018. Before she opened the doors to her studio, it took her five months of research into the market, and the customer needs and wants. She took opinions of potential customers and her friends, created personalised stylebooks and then began creating her first small range to showcase her designs.
She established the brand with a desire to build a personalised corporate formal wear, party wear, and modern outfits. Her eclectic design sense was liked by many and she gradually expanded her small ethnic collection to include bridal, wedding, and festive wear.
Elaborating her customised and personalised approach, she says, “I meet you, spend two hours with you understanding your personality, what would work on your body, what you really need and want, and try new things. Then I create something that works for you.”
She was well versed with the processes and challenges of setting up a business because of her experience with six startups and the launch of several brands. When it came to creating her own brand, she realised that it took a lot more than she had previously thought.
"I understood how much time it takes to build a business. Nothing really happens overnight even if you have a great value proposition or a great product. Building anything takes a lot of time, effort, and passion of course. Even then you need to constantly evolve. It's not like you setup something and you just stick to that no matter what,” says Kamalpreet.
Realistic standards of beauty
Her brand name is inspired by a Scottish word ‘Moonbroch’, which means a hazy halo of cloud around the moon and is regarded as an omen of bad weather to come. Kamalpreet believes that design can be transformative and empowering. She feels that her designer wear personifies the sensuality and intellect of women and can help them tide over any storm that comes their way.
Standing up for individuality and self-expression of women, Kamalpreet uses her real customers as models and does not believe in promoting unrealistic standards of beauty. In two years, she has conducted four shows to showcase her couture collections in which her clients from varied backgrounds – entrepreneurs, doctors, corporate leaders, home makers, architects, and artists – have walked the runway. She also features their stories on her social media channels.
“Moonbroch has led the way in building body positivity by including diverse women across age groups as models, right from inception. We have consciously built a culture of inclusivity and building confidence by celebrating yourself whatever might be your body type or skin colour,” she adds.
Most of her shows and initiatives have been charity fundraisers aimed at supporting education and self-skilling for rural women and children, and helping self-reliance in the underprivileged strata.
Her COVID-19 initiative
Kamalpreet’s compassion to serve the underprivileged led to starting the mask donation drives, as well as distributing dry rations and food supplies during the lockdown. After seeing the disturbing images of migrant workers and labourers walking hundreds of kilometres on foot at the peak of the lockdown, she decided to provide employment to local tailors who were facing similar challenges. The tailors make protective cotton masks and Kamalpreet has distributed them free of cost to slum dwellers and daily wagers through the help of volunteers. She also began a donation drive to help procure materials for the masks and is doubling all the contributions made by the donors.
Realising the changes induced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kamalpreet is diversifying her range of designer wear to include designer masks and fancy athleisure. As the demands and spending patterns change post-COVID, she feels that her lean business model of appointment-only approach and minimal fixed costs places her bootstrapped brand in a much better position to survive and thrive.
Edited by Kanishk Singh