Tell us about the company you have set up – when did you set it up, what products or services do you provide, what is your target market?
I started out this company in 2005, when I noticed a lack of trendy and quality products inspired by the Western culture. We didn’t have as many brands available in India as we have now.
My idea was to make high quality, affordable clothing but to also think of fractional ownership and sharing.
Our target market is both men and women between 16 and 60 years-of-age. We stock clothing for all sorts of events including job interviews, corporate events, red carpet premieres, weddings and for films and celebrities.
Why did you set up the company? / What drove you to become an entrepreneur?
I want to get structured and not just work haphazardly. I have been styling since 1998 and most stylists are self-employed freelancers with not much organization structure. Luckily for me, my father who is a businessman himself advised a structure, register a company for styling, pay my service tax and be more geared for growth. I hired employees and paid them on time just like any business would. That training helped me to structure ‘The Clothing Rental’ as a business, way before it was to become popular. Having the base strong helps you bounce higher.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
One of the biggest challenges is convincing people that renting can be a fun, hygienic, trendy and economical way of experiencing new trends. Many people didn’t believe that anyone would rent real Jimmy Choo shoes, but we did. That is what makes us different – we think different.
Another is making people value our product. Just because it’s a rented piece and they get it at an extremely nominal price, people often forget the true value of it.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Staying relevant and improving each and every day. We surprise ourselves at how far we have come.
Being in business for over ten years, dressing up the top names in the film and media industry and having the right people support us is a great achievement.
Not to forget, providing employment to women and girls is a great achievement. Our company is 85 per cent female-run, I love seeing how simple girls are becoming confident and happy and growing with us. It’s a great feeling to inspire and nurture young minds. Being able to provide a happy, healthy, secure work environment is a big deal.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I’m inspired by the Tatas ( JRD and Ratan), Warren Buffet and Armancio Ortega.
I love reading inspiring stories of their struggles and successes and what it took them to become who they are, how to stay grounded and reach for the stars.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
I love my work so I feel work is like a vacation. There is no set time and I meet a lot of people. Most of my employees, vendors or clients have become more of a friend and family. We enjoy what we do and make the most of every moment.
Once you see your work that way, your life balances itself out. I take time out when over-worked and I believe in pampering myself. Spending time with family and friends takes priority; I’m an extremely social, warm and welcoming person. I make time for people who matter and make them feel special.
I believe build relationships and the money will follow.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Believe in your self and hustle. Keep at it, life can be hard but it’s not impossible).
Stay focused and keep your eye on the goal. Very often I notice girls get lost chasing love, men and the dream of a perfect marriage, and all too easily give up all their other dreams. Girls are too happy to let go their own personality. I find that hard to digest. I believe women have their own unique thinking that should be nurtured not denied. Men might feel threatened by a woman who is beautiful and has strong mind but eventually a strong man will love, respect and be inspired by such a woman.
Hold on to your uniqueness.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
National Entrepreneurship Network in India and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Entrepreneur, which is a web-based mentoring platform for women entrepreneurs from developing countries.
I live between New York and Mumbai, so I also take help from Sba.org and SCORE.org. SCORE is a non-profit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Support from family, friends, customers, vendors, banks – everyone.
What does the future hold for you?
Lots of growth and lots of opportunities. The sky is the limit and we are reaching out for it.
We are extremely driven and can’t stop ascending.
About Shilpa Bhatia
Shilpa Bhatia is a fashion entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the industry as a stylist, public relations and branding specialist. Her strengths lie in trend forecasting, demographic analysis, technology, buying, branding packaging and much more.
Shilpa constantly strives to keep improving by educating herself on industry trends. She has degrees in Sociology from SNDT, Mumbai, Fashion Design from IED, Milan and Parsons, New York along with a degree in Fashion Marketing from Parsons New York. Recently she has also been trained in Digital Marketing.
Shilpa has built her company website (over 1000 webpages and products) along with launching the ‘TCR’ app on Ios and Android platforms.
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Find out more by visiting shilpabhatia.com