EDITIONS

From a freelance stylist to entrepreneurship - my journey

posted on 10th August 2018
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From taking my hobby of styling the mannequins seriously to seeing myself as the Founder of the Startup, I think I am on the path of my aim to make India run at pace with Global Trends.

I am Shilpa Bhatia, and this is my story about how I managed to make it up to set up a one-stop solution for clothing for all the top stylists, fashionistas and celebrities; and from being a freelance to being a self-employed stylist for commercials and films.

Living in Mumbai as a freelancer/self-employed stylist for various commercials and films, I never had a thought of working in a full-time job. I hold the degree in Sociology, Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing from SNDT, IED Milan and Parsons New York. And, while working as a stylist for commercials and films, I kept myself self-updated with the latest consumer trends, finance, business, and technology.

How Entrepreneurship happened to me naturally

It is definite that Entrepreneurship happened to me naturally, as I was always interested in it more than the 9 to 5 job. And, somehow, I came up with a business idea in 2005, with the “Renting” concept.

Unlike regular retails, where a certain product of Rs.100 is sold for Rs.200, I had a thought of offering the product of Rs. 100 for Rs.25 for a certain period of time, which will supposedly cover the cost of goods, maintenance, stocking, service, legal, and taxes.

It sounded to be an extremely slow-paced business to break even, but, I was firm at my concept of business and wanted to bring it to the action.

In 2005, with a private funding set up by my father of around 10 lakhs, I started up with my first ever venture, The Clothing Rental. I launched the first store that would rent clothes out to people, and gradually built it up.

Late in the same year, the Daks Cashmere Suits for men, Mango dresses and Guess Jeans etc., were of the famous brands that were the prevailing tastes of my store and customers. And, also were some of the high value and great quality products of the store, and I thought to myself that I found my right source to start off.

How I made it to the “Best kept secret”

The early 3-4 years of my start-up were not easy and I really needed an office space for my styling projects. I would go out a lot on shopping stroll for hours in the city with piles of shopping bags. And, with Bandra being my hotspot, I direly felt the need for a space around the same location, where I could drop off my stuff at.

Once that was sorted, I was on the other hand in dire need of someone who could manage the space, and also take care of my assistants and tailors, who would show up to pick or drop some stuff every now and then. This would help me be free to run around and do more work.

Since my start-up solely dealt with styling services, I had to face a few issues initially to find some high-quality clothing at much lower prices. The inventory of popular items which added soon came to my rescue here.

I knew there were a lot of people who didn’t like or understand the idea of my business, but I never gave a thought about it. It never mattered to me if my business made sense to someone or not. All I focussed on was those people who valued my view and appreciated my service and quality of work. I gained fame for my service in the industry and soon, The Clothing Rental business of mine was tagged as the “Best Kept Secret” of the industry. 

Few hurdles amid the success

Later on, a few years down the line, I started off with my 2nd business venture, Marca. A beautiful fashion store in Bandra in 2008, which hardly lasted a little over a year. As I was recently married, I had a few timing and adjustment issues, I was not able to give my full efforts and time to it. Those were my tough times I must say, and as far as I guess the business failed due to personal reasons.

Once I shut the Marca store, I felt I shut the wrong thing. But, nevertheless, I had some great experiences here too!

Rejuvenation of my passion

It was time for me to realize what my passion is and not let it go so easily, and then the year 2010 had literally rejuvenated my passion. In 2010, I got selected among the top 10 entrepreneurs to receive mentorship from one of the famous organizations, Nen.org.

I got mentored by Nen.org, which is a National Entrepreneur Network and is an amazing community of institutions, founders, mentors, and investors. It can be considered as an ideal place to get coached for small businesses. I was the only girl to be selected among the 10 groups.

I was very much unorganized at that point in time, and that reflected when I was present there. With no business or company card, no brochure or a business plan, I met my mentor for the first time. But, I was so excited and glad, that I kept talking about my business which entertained him. And, he complemented that while I lack paraphernalia, I had a lot of passion, which boosted my spirit up higher.

To get myself organized better, he gave me few tips and tricks, which I followed them up and it took me around a year and a half, and now, I can gladly boast that way more than 5000 know about me and my company, as my mentor had promised me!

And this couldn’t have been possible without a co-operative team. We train our team, first of all, to understand the customer and make them catch their breath and relax. Because what I believe is, a relaxed customer tends to absorb what you offer much better, and this way we will be able to help them better.

Cruising through the success there is another latest venture of mine, the Terra Indeed, a New York-based showroom representing fine talents. It is featured to appeal to South Asian Demographics, and I am more than enthusiastic to work on it and make it a success.

What I feel for what I do

I say, I was born for this and I realize it as a blessing. I am a workaholic and can talk and shop 24/7, and this reflects my passion for my work. Being passionate about something and running a business on the same has its own joy.

Another facet that keeps me passionate about my work is inspiring others and realizing that you are creating something that the world will value or talk about someday.

How I view life

Life is never easy! It is full of challenges and triumphs, one has to keep going no matter what ups and downs they face. I watch a lot of motivational videos and admire self-made people. Just to realize that I have a come a long way while making the work playful and enjoyable for all with an essence of passion and effort.

I believe that one must remain nimble and go with the flow. It's fairly simple. You failed! So, what? Try Again! Try another way!! It is definitely not easy being an entrepreneur but it certainly is fun being one. So, keep hustling and working!

I work because it makes me happy. I'm living the life that many dreams of but only a few live.

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