[100 Emerging Women Leaders] How designer Pallavi Swadi is setting an example for her children
A finance professional-turned-designer, Pallavi Swadi is the founder of children’s designer house, Coo Coo, and has a boutique designer house for women.
A former finance professional, Pallavi Swadi’s journey as a designer began in 2012 when she launched, a designer clothing line for children. She decided to expand her creativity to women’s fashion and launched Pallavi Swadi design house in 2019.
“I want to set an example for my children,” says Swadi.
“I don’t want my son to think that I should not be achieving as much as his father just because I am a woman. I don’t want my daughter to think that she shouldn’t be assertive because she is a woman,” she explains.
Swadi’s tryst with fashion first happened during her internship with World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva. The simple yet chic fashion sense of the French and Swiss people in the city instilled something in her. She says, even today, she draws inspiration from them while designing clothes that are comfortable, fashion-forward, and sustainable.
Despite struggling to keep her business afloat during the pandemic, Swadi decided to experiment with making masks for health workers.
“I could see the struggle of health workers who had to wear uncomfortable N95 masks. As someone who has always promoted sustainability and comfort, I decided to address this issue. From my house itself, we produced and sold more than 400,000 cotton reusable masks to the employees of some leading Indian companies,” Swadi recalls.
As a comparatively smaller design house, she finds it challenging to reach out to the right customers without spending enormous money on marketing. However, the bigger challenge is the biased opinions that have made her feel guilty for being an entrepreneur.
“I have been advised that I should take things slow with my entrepreneurial journey. I understand that the concern stems from genuine love and concern, but somewhere I felt guilty for not giving enough time to my family. And I have struggled with the thought from time to time,” she recalls.
In such times, she seeks inspiration from her grandparents and her father.
“My grandfather went on to build a business after losing his father at the age of 14. My grandmother is an artist who travels the world for exhibitions, leaving behind her children and grandchildren. My father left his job as a chartered accountant to start a pharmaceutical business. These three people have taught me that if we put our minds to it, we can always learn and adapt even when the field is new,” Swadi adds.
She advises women leaders to find a network of women who can be good role models and mentors and provide them with the support they need.
Edited by Megha Reddy