Tell us about yourself and your background
I started my career in the media industry with The Times Group. Launch of Planet M gave me an opportunity to understand shopper behavior and their expectations from a newly launched brand in a highly competitive industry. It immediately got me hooked. I was part of the launch team of iconic media brands like CNBC TV 18 and Times Now. After a long stint in media, I wanted to implement my learning in a hardcore brand solutions led company and that’s when I joined Future media, a Kishore Biyani firm. After spending more than a decade in various corporate, I knew I was ready to launch a venture on my own in shopper marketing segment. Red Polka, now a year old venture, is a result of my learning and understanding of consumer shopping behavior.
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?
As a curious shopper-marketing professional, I noticed a fast emerging trend in the shopping habits a few years ago. People started moving to online shopping and over the years; e-comm shopping is now considered a trustworthy medium as consumers have started indulging in big ticket shopping now. While that’s good news for e-comm giants, there is still a gap in the market that no one is paying attention to currently. That is lack of window-shopping experience. Women shoppers mainly, like to explore various themes, stores and sometimes-same stores in different locations before making a purchase decision. As a habit, we are attracted to enter a shop whose show window is decorated aesthetically with their best designs. This piece is currently missing in the online space. This is the need gap Red Polka is addressing by showcasing curated fashion and lifestyle designs from upcoming designers located in different corners of the country.
Why did you set up the company? / What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?
As an avid shopper myself, I regularly visit exhibitions and explore boutiques to buy an apparel or a home décor item. Every time I visited exhibitions or discovered a boutique, the talent behind them left me stunned. My fellow women shoppers would walk out with numerous shopping bags with a triumphant smile. It got me thinking that such a talent shouldn’t stay in an offline world. If an online platform can be built to showcase their work, it will open many opportunities, they didn’t know existed. This triggered me to set up Red Polka.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Talent and just 24 hours in a day are the challenges that one faces while growing fast.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Red Polka’s growth has surpassed all our expectations while seeing the business flourish is definitely an achievement but the fact that we have been able to empower and discover more than 150 designers would be our biggest achievement. We have been able to open up markets for designers they thought were out of bounds for them. We enabled their business and today they are talking about launching their own e-comm stores, going global and expanding footprint in India.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Like any other child, my parents have been my biggest strength and an immense source of inspiration. I’m awed by the fact that my father, who is 70+, still works with an energy and enthusiasm of a 20 year old. My mother is a strong pillar in my life.
But looking at the ambition and a fire in the belly of several of our women designers, keep me charged up. Their stories about overcoming every hurdle and a single focus to take their designs to the world, not only inspires me but keeps me going too.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
My day starts with my work out schedule at 5.30 AM. After I get my kids ready for school, I reach office by 8.30 AM. For the next 10 odd hours, my work is my priority. I make sure to catch my children early in the evening over dinner and stay updated about their day. Once they are asleep, I fire my laptop again to continue my work. Like any other entrepreneur, I sometimes think 24 hours are too less for the kind of work I’m doing and juggling many roles everyday but I follow a mantra that all of us have the same amount of time so let’s make the best use of it.
What advice do you have for women starting out?
Women are emotionally bent workers. So firstly, one must learn the rules of priority. Secondly, effective time management also means delegating tasks at both home front and work front, not only to colleagues and peers, but also to support staff and family members. Thirdly, must learn to take care of oneself both emotionally and physically. Rest, dreams will materialize when there is hard work and a healthy mind and body.
Can you recommend any organizations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
Learning come from different spheres sometimes from social groups, sometimes from industry led networking groups.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Tech Magic. While technology seems to be the enabler but it takes time to build products and features and its acceptance.
What does the future hold for you?
Hoping a great journey ahead.
About Vishanka Singh:
Vishakha Singh is the founder of Red Polka, a curated fashion discovery platform that showcases and tells stories of several designers. Her prior experience includes brand and strategy for Times Now, Future Media- a Kishore Biyani Venture, and shopper-marketing boutique Aurora Comms. She also serves on the board of International Advertising Association- India Chapter (IAA India). She supports initiatives encouraging women in workforce and child adoption.