Jatin Malik’s Story – A Fashion Designer Cum Entrepreneur
April 17, 2017
I don't know how and why it all started but remember exactly when it all started very early in 9th standard when I started making changes in my school uniform. I don't know why but I was not happy with the colour scheme of white and blue check with navy blue trousers and obviously you can't change the colour scheme so the next best thing was to make changes in the cut and add some details. I put two patch pockets on the chest with contrast show buttons and put loops on the shoulder. My classmates liked it so much that I changed all my close friends uniforms. Obviously it dint last long because our class teacher scolded us and we were back to normal.
Anyways born and brought up in a small city, you don't always have decent options when it comes to good quality tailors, tailoring material and accessories. Still somehow I managed to find one drunk talented master ji who understood that there is a lot money to be made out of me because I never wanted a normal shirt or trouser or blazer. It was always something different and he is the only one who can do that in the city so he can ask for any amount he liked and I had to pay him without any negotiations.
Finally things started moving at a decent pace and I started designing clothes and my master ji started making it. It was all for my own use. It has always been for the love of clothes. I never cared about if anyone's going to like it or not which paid off really well. I was making everything from t shirts to shirts to blazers and my whole friend circle gradually started getting the same design made and stitched from the same tailor.
But the problem was my master ji was drunk most of the time so getting him to do good quality work that too on time required a lot of patience which luckily or unluckily lot of people dint have.
I used to travel to Delhi every month on bus to source new patterns and fabrics and accessories and those were the best 2/3 days of the month. This was way back in when I was 15 years old in 2000.
College and Delhi:
Things changed after 12th standard when I spent almost all of my time in Delhi during my graduation. Whatever money i used to get from home 90 percent of it was used for shopping and and rest for my phone expenses. Staying with your relatives has this much advantage that you don't need to shell out anything for rent and food. At that point of my life also master ji only was making my clothes and the best part was he was sober for over a year now which gave him a lot of work and now he has 2 more tailors under him. Selling the same designs what I used to make and asking for price which is almost double than the market rate, master ji was also expanding in full form.One thing I forgot to mention, I used to organise a dheri sort of a system every 3-4 months of my used clothes in which my friends, my friend's friends used to come over to my place and buy my used clothes and that money literally funded my sourcing of fabric from Delhi.
So coming back to my stay in Delhi, life was super cool. You have a place to stay, food to eat and my dad has always been super chilled out when it comes to studies. You get average marks and you are good to go. So I got to do what I love the most which was finding out new quirky shops that made designer clothes. Luckily I found one in Kamlanagar by the name of Hollywood. I don't know if it's still there. I was so fascinated by the designs and name of the shop, I used to go there every week even if I couldn't buy every week, just to check out new designs and clothes. I was like a kid in a candy land. That's the store where I actually learned about what more can be done with clothes using accessories, different fabrics, patterns etc.
So, college passed by at a very quick pace, got to work in an export house during my internship where my beliefs and my expectations certainly took a huge hit because i was assigned to work with the production team which got nothing to do with designing but one major thing I learned there was the importance of deadlines. You miss a day and you will be charged heavily as penalty clauses played a huge role in export orders.
As much as my family was super chilled out about my studies, they never wanted me to opt designing as my primary source of income or my main job. They wanted me to complete my MBA and get a decent serious job. At the time of college placement I already had a job in a media company but I jumped to apply for an interview with DLF retail because that was the only company which would have put me a little closer to clothing brands because I will be handling the leasing of national and international brands leasing in DLF's South Delhi malls or as I thought it would be the case.
Years went by and I was far far away from the designing job and once you start climbing the corporate ladder the more difficult it gets for you to pursue this anything simultaneously. I was still designing for myself, friends and family. But not professionally. I was still asked to go to shop for my friends Male, female both and my phone was always full of friends pictures in trial rooms especially female friends asking for which outfit to buy.
30th birthday and start of Jatinmalik:
There comes a time in everyone's life when you put your foot down and take charge of what is going to happen now. It may sound a bit filmy but it hit me really hard when I turned 30 that I don't want to spend my whole life like this. It was kind of a big step for me because I was used to a certain lifestyle and due to some bad investments I made during the recession time from the money I earned from my leasing income, I had to continue working my job. But it was certain that If I can't change the way my professional life at least I will try to get into designing a lot more as a side job.
So I asked few of my friends that I will design some clothes for them and if they don't like it, they don't have to pay and if they like it, they will wear it and I will post a picture of them in that article on my Facebook page and that's how it started again.
I started with only two of my friends which then became 4 then 8 then I started getting such overwhelming response to the pictures I was posting on Facebook
that I was wondering if I can continue this with my job and if I can, then for how long?
Simultaneously I had reached Associate vice president position in my new company and managing these two things together became a lot more difficult than I expected. So for an year I continued that way, I kept designing professionally for friends to now a lot of new clients. Orders kept coming, local clients, outstation clients, NRI clients. I was getting calls from all walks of society everyday. Again it would be a cliched statement to make here and a bit filmy also. It's not just a business for me. It's much more than that. To put this feeling in words is not that easy. But the whole process of thinking about idea of a new collection, converting it into sketch and then to the final article. This process is my life. People who are close to me definitely know the kind of happiness and spark I feel about designing clothes, master ji was also back in life. He is still operating out of that small shop but he has now become this big shot in the city having two houses, cars and lots of real estate. He touched my feet when I went back to meet him after 8 years and teary eyed when I told him that he will be working with me again for my own brand now.
I was earning good and with my job as well I was able to invest something in a small work shop which was a huge deal for me. Now I have my own place to get this thing a full fledged chance.
But at the office, I was facing a lot of heat because of the time I was allotting to my brand. But somehow I and my team managed to pull through. I remember exactly, I used to go to office in my formal clothes after punching in and after our routine sit down with my team and my boss, I used to go out, change in the car, go to chandnichowk or nehru place for fabric sourcing, get that fabric into production, go back to office and after office I had my meetings lined up for my clothing brand. The week when our appraisals were supposed to happen I took a call which paid off really well now but at the time it became a nightmare for me. I was earning more than my salary from my clothing brand so I decided to quit my job and without even discussing or telling it to anybody thinking if I could manage my house and business expenses for 6-7 months then I will tell everyone.
And I also knew that if I waited for my appraisal, I knew I won't be able to resign and never give my passion and designing a full chance. So I did it and managed the whole year like this and took care of everything better than what I was doing at the time of my job and somehow after a year got the courage to tell my family and friends about this also.
So I quit in July and I launched my first collection in September 2016 which got such a huge response and established my brand in the market a little.
As I always say, we struggle every day in our jobs, in our business, in our lives. People say I am a born entrepreneur which I personally find it to be a little funny. In my opinion, entrepreneur is just a sophisticated synonym of struggler. The only difference is I struggle for something I am immensely passionate about which comes out of self awareness because I know exactly who I am. Over the years you get busy doing what others expect you to do and you start chasing money. 3 years ago I decided to follow my passion, my vision and it has paid off outstandingly well. It's the first time I haven't thought about money as a factor and trust me when I say this. Money has always found a way to come back to me. Having said that I am nowhere close to my version of success but I know I am on the right path now and again as cliche as it sounds but I do feel in journey is the best reward. It gives you a different high to see your company grow step by step.
Spring Summer Collection and International Fashion Show:
We launched our SS’17 collection in February. After launching the teaser video of our collection in February, we got a call from the Fashion Director of St Andrews University, UK that they loved the video and would like to see the full collection. We forwarded all the pictures the same day and next day we got a call back in the evening that we have been selected to showcase our collection at their Annual Fashion show, Sitara in U.K.
Showcasing Internationally that too in a University whose Alumni lists contain names like Prince William and James Wilson is a big acknowledgement for us.
So without sounding like a preachy motivational speaker, I am doing something, I literally breathe, passionate about, and really good at and now after 2 collections launched, 1 international fashion show with a new store and fashion week.
In this era of social Media and venture capital funds where companies are literally burning cash to survive. I can proudly say we are a bootstrapped organisation of 18 people working super hard without any debt or any fund backing us up, super profitable because every penny which has been invested into the business came out of the profit earned. We will continue to surprise you guys with our new designs and concepts. That's our story till date.