Tell us about yourself and your background
I grew up in Mumbai in a business family, where many family discussions centered around the concept of creating value through business. Those lessons stuck with me throughout my undergrad days at New York University, where I studied Marketing at the Stern School of Business. I went on to join my family business of jewellery manufacturing, where I learned the dynamics of supply chain and pricing. In 2010, I went on to Wharton for my MBA with the aim of developing a more modern and global business outlook. It was here that my idea for Pipa + Bella was born.
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?
Pipa + Bella is an online fashion jewellery brand that caters to the 20-35 year old young urban woman living in India. We started our brand 3 years ago with the intention of providing good quality, trendy, accessible and affordable fashion jewellery to women.
Why did you set up the company? / What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?
Jewellery is in my blood, but more importantly it’s a great segment to build out online. Jewellery is an impulse purchase, because of its ease of trial and ready-to-wear factor. More importantly, the demand for fashion jewellery is on the rise. Today’s youth is looking for high-street fashion that has unique designs, is affordable with good quality and doesn’t absorb the fluctuating gold and diamond prices. I always knew I would do something of my own. The idea of creating value and making a dent in the universe was something I knew I could only achieve if I carved my own path.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
There are very few brands in the fashion jewellery segment and practically none that focus on a tech-based distribution model. Our biggest challenge was around building stickiness and loyalty around a product category that is traditionally not driven by branding. In order to do that, we had to create a brand that was aspirational yet affordable. But as you know, often good quality and affordability don’t go hand in hand. Luckily our experience in jewellery manufacturing and design has helped us improve upon our supply chain and we work with vendors closely to ensure our pieces have great quality and design!
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
The greatest one is yet to come.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
It’s hard to pick just one. Steve Jobs for his passion for product, Oprah Winfrey for her ability to fight gender and racial stereotypes and build a media empire, and closer to home, Ratan Tata for showing us that you can build a brand on the principles of humility, dedication and compassion.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
There are times when it’s important to give work priority and there are times when family time trumps everything. In my schedule, I separate time that is meant for work and time that is meant for family and I try to ensure that neither aspect in my life feels neglected. While this is challenging, I find that it’s good to surround yourself with people who can be brutally honest with you and keep you in check on your priorities.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to please everyone or also try and do everything yourself. Ask for help when you need it and manage your time well. Do what you believe in, and have the conviction that your work will always speak for itself.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
Signing up for updates on new startups, speaking to fellow entrepreneurs, VC’s through seminars and conferences like VCcircle and TIE are always useful to be in the know-how and meet like-minded individuals.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
I’d love to see Jennifer Lawrence wear Pipa Bella jewelry!
What does the future hold for you?
We have many exciting things coming up at Pipa Bella, including a mobile app launching in a few weeks, some interesting collaborations and new verticals.
About Shuchi Pandya:
An Economics graduate from Stern School of Business and an MBA from Wharton School of Business, Shuchi Pandya now holds the position of CEO and is the co – founder of Pipa & Bella.
She received the Shils Zeidman award which is a $30,000 grant at Wharton for contribution and commitment to Entrepreneurship.
Shuchi started her career in Mumbai in Hindustan Lever where she worked on brands like Pears and Fair & Lovely. Working in a corporate environmenttaught her a lot, leading to the decision of becoming her own boss. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, she had her first taste in business at the age of 16 when she assisted her father at a Trade Fair in Las Vegas. She knew from that moment that retail management would be an integral part of her life. In 2005, she started working in her father’s jewellery export business, wherein she managed sales and business development in Europe. In 2007, Shuchi started her own jewellery brand, Blue Banyan that catered to the sensibilities of an urban Indian woman and retailed in stores such as Fab India and Bombay Electric.
During her time at Wharton, Shuchi began studying network marketing and social selling in depth. Inspired by the idea of promoting financial independence among Indian women,
Shuchi researched business models that could combine this underlying philosophy as well as her passion for jewellery.
The concept was an instant success and women were excited about the idea of becoming Stylists and hosting trunk shows in return for free jewellery. Once Shuchi returned to India, Komal and she fleshed out the idea to better suit the Indian market and build the intricacies of the business model.The brain child of that is Pipa & Bella.
This interview was provided by WeAreTheCity India contributor Rachna Raichandani.