Meet the brand designers behind actor Jacquline Fernandes’ new venture SheRox

In a conversation with HerStory, designers Hetal Ajmera and Bianca D’sa Vincent talk about their journey of establishing Sharpener — the design agency behind actor Jacquline Fernandes’ new venture SheRox.

Meet the brand designers behind actor Jacquline Fernandes’ new venture SheRox

Thursday March 31, 2022,

6 min Read

With a rooted belief in the power of creativity, designers Hetal Ajmera and Bianca D’sa Vincent proudly call themselves 'Designers by Design'.

While establishing their design agency Sharpener, Hetal and Bianca knew what they could do differently and bring a fresh perspective to the table. The company strives to achieve the right balance between idea and design. 

Sharpener has worked on several award-winning projects, including Bollywood actor Jacquline Fernandes' new venture SheRox, and has designed the social media campaign for 'Nush' by actor Anushka Sharma.

Besides, the duo has designed luxury premium and gourmet brands, including La Folie, UK-based fine jewellery brand Ortaea, Vaunt Skincare, OYO, Airtel, etc.

The brand has also created quirky installations, such as the 'Breathing Bras', for journalist Barkha Dutt's “We The Women” initiative, in collaboration with Facebook (now Meta) and UN Women.

For 41-year-old Hetal Ajmera, brands are not a new phenomenon. While working with ad agencies like Leo Burnett, Ogilvy, JWT, Contract, and others, she felt a certain pull towards the arts and was part of building many design and art projects. 

Bianca, on the other hand, says her final goal was to work in Human Resources. However, the alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, was fascinated with art. 

Bianca started working at McCann Erickson for brands like Saffola, Shoppers Stop, Asian Paints, and Cadbury, among others. It was during their agency days the duo met 

In a conversation with HerStory, Hetal and Bianca talk about their journey of building Sharpener. 

Hetal and Bianca

Edited excerpts from the interview: 

HerStory (HS): Tell us about Sharpener. What does it do?

Hetal Ajmera (HA): Sharpener is a Mumbai-based design agency started in 2014. Bianca and I met while working in contract advertising with another agency. We instantly knew we would work well together. We bring different skills, talents, and perspectives to the table, and help brands communicate their ideas through design. 

Initially, one of the challenges was giving up our comfortable, well-paying jobs to start something from scratch. We left our jobs without any support from any clients with the hope things would work out, and they did. 

We started small by doing odd design jobs, where we put in our 100 percent. People saw the passion in us, and as their trust in our work grew, we got larger projects.

HS: How did you build Sharpener’s core team? 

Bianca D’sa Vincent (BDV): We are a small team of five people, including Hetal and me, but we pack a punch with our ideas and execution. We receive CVs daily, especially via social media, and we try to interact with as many as possible. 

We believe, if someone has made the effort to look you up, then one must respond with due respect to their time. 

Our interviews are more conversational. We want to understand the mind over matter. For us, the willingness to commit and explore the unexplored matters the most. 

While CVs bring them to us, their overall personality, an unshakeable core, and the willingness to give their best make them keepers. We also get references from the industry, freshers, experienced professionals, etc. 

HS: What has been the traction for the company since its inception? 

HA: From brand identity design to stop motion films to space design and product design, Sharpener does it all. 

We have close to 25 well-known clients in sectors, including FMCG, retail, ecommerce, food and beverage, etc. From La Folie in Mumbai to Hypercity, from Hotstar to Anushka Sharma’s Nush to Lodha — Sharpener has been the creative force behind these brands.  

HS: What sets you apart from your competitors? What's your revenue model? 

BDV: Our approach to design sets us apart from our competitors. Everyone knows a strong idea leads to a memorable design. However, we believe, the idea is the soul of the work, and design serves as a pair of abled legs to take it forward. 

We call ourselves Sharpener because a “sharpener” is a hard taskmaster, which forces you to stay keen, chiselled, and sharp, and helps you write down your fortune better. We are lively and prompt, focused, involved, excited — and in love with designs. 

Like any other creative agency, Sharpener operates a service-based business model, where it charges a set fee to its clients. At present, we are a bootstrapped company.  

We don’t have any room for lengthy boardroom discussions, misunderstandings, and mismanagement, which shows in our work. We prefer to get our hands dirty by creating designs that reach the roots.


HS: Can you give us some examples of Sharpener’s work? 

HA and BDV: Earlier this year, Jacqueline Fernandez decided to use her voice and build a platform to empower women through various avenues. The Bollywood actor chose to work with Sharpener to ensure the project resonated with women across the spectrum while showcasing her persona. She wanted to us create an identity that strikes an instant chord with the audience. 

We worked closely with Jacqueline and her team to design the logo, brand identity, and other thematic elements while providing it with an authentic positive feel. 

Working with Jacqueline was nothing short of an amazing experience. We knew she had put her heart and soul into the project, and we wanted the same to reflect in the design. 

We zeroed in on the concept of iridescence, which shows fluidity and movement. To balance these, we used the motif of rock both for the namesake and to show the underlying strength. 

We also rebranded Jimmy’s Cocktails — an alco-bev brand helping Indians #BringTheBarHome. 

HS: What key factors do you keep in mind while designing a product? 

HA and BDV: First, we see the product's authenticity and originality. Second, we decide on a bold and fun colour palette and combine it with tropical and jewel tones, paired with bold lettering. 

Case in point — alco-bev brand Jimmy’s Cocktails. We understand a cocktail is not just a beverage but a journey. From flavours, aromas to ingredients, it all has to go well together and engulf your senses. Jimmy's Cocktails has taken the experience of drinking a cocktail, making it a thousand times better, and has put it in a bottle.

However, the company's identity required a fresh and unique approach to gain a higher recall value. We decided to turn the real into the surreal and bring out these brand qualities into its packaging and design.

Edited by Suman Singh