I am a marketing and branding consultant by profession running Vimonisha Exhibitions – one of India’s most popular designer wear and jewellery exhibitions. Armed with an MBA, with a specialisation in marketing and years of experience in product management and advertising in the corporate world, I am now an entrepreneur who has grown the primary business exponentially, in terms of sales, started by my mother Mrs. Vimal Shivdasani.
Tell us about Vimonisha Exhibitions
Vimonisha – promoted by mother Vimal and me Monisha – was born out of a deep need to be independant and carve a niche for ourselves in the world of business. Vimonisha Exhibitions is Chennai’s most awaited designer show, and has completed more than 25 years. Held three times a year, in luxurious five star hotels in the city, it brings together designers from all over the world for a two-day show.
Vimonisha Exhibitions enjoys the prestige of being Chennai’s most premium, pioneering designer exhibition, and takes pride in its impressive repertoire of designers. Designers from across India are handpicked and invited to showcase their products ranging from clothes in prêt, couture, accessories, jewellery and lifestyle products.
Designers participating in Vimonisha Exhibitions can expect sales from both the retail trade as well as wholesale enquiries and business from leading fashion houses, boutiques and stores from South India. Thus it provides the perfect platform to designers looking at expanding their business in the South.
Our target market is fashion, jewellery and accessory designers from across the world who would like to showcase their talent and promote their range with us.
What drove you to become an entrepreneur?
We recognised a need among our designer clients who were excellent at their job. They were artists who had no idea how to handle the marketing, branding or financial aspects of their creations. They needed a platform to showcase their talent and we addressed their need to help them find the right target audience to sell their creations to.
What prompted me to be an entrepreneur was the freedom and speed of taking decisions that were available to me when it was my own idea or in approving a plan to hit the market at the right time. The endless world of opportunities was in front of me, and I didn’t have to wait for approvals. I had to examine its feasibility for myself and go with my instinct and experience to see it to success. I love the adrenaline rush of recognising an opportunity, creating a brand and and seeing a project through to fruition. This to me is preferable than being a part of a large organisation where you are often restricted to working in one department and have to depend on the competency of others to make a project successful. This was my baby and and it was our brand name at stake here. That made it all the more meaningful and challenging.
Have a clear plan of what you want to do, and be committed to it. Do not waver. Be persistant and most importantly be honest to yourself and your clients.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Handling home, kids and career is sometimes challenging especially when your children are like you – ambitious, hardworking and persistent! Balancing the swim lessons of my state-level swimmer daughter, studies, younger ones’ aspirations in dance and badminton, and juggling time schedules is taxing at times.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We have completed more than 100 phenomenally successful desigern exhibitions where we handle nearly 70 designers at once, in terms of promotion, marketing and branding. Most of our designer clients are now friends, and an appreciative hug and thank you from them is all that it takes for me to work harder for the next show.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother who taught me that God is in the detail and even now never fails to find a flaw in our ad copy! And my husband Mahesh Gidwani who taught me that life was not only about being successful but about spirituality, being humble and doing a random act of kindness each day. It never worried him that i was in the lime light sometimes and earned as much as he did. He would always encourage me when I felt dejected and would say, “I want you to be one of India’s finest lady entrepreneurs!”
And finally my dad who drilled it into my head that I should not be a lackey and work for someone all my life, and who insisted that I fill in my MBA application form saying my mission was to be an entrepreneur one day instead of the usual line of ‘aspire to work in a multinational’. When I argued that the college would not take me he then said, “Then they don’t know what you are worth.”
Today my day is proud of my achievements and never misses an opportunity to praise me! Somewhere in me, that is all I have wanted all my life – his approval and acknowledgment of my achievements since he certainly has very high standards!
How do you balance your work life and home life?
I wake very early in the mornings at around 4.30am and plan my day, send out emails, write cheques, and do all the admin work that can be done without having to coordinate with others. I believe that by waking early one has a clear headstart over others. By the time they reach work, I am fully prepared with facts and figures to face them! I usually stop working around 3pm when my girls come home from school. Since I work very fast, type very fast and talk very fast, I usually am able to do more than one task at a time and finish by early evening. I derive my energies from exercise, running, yoga and my friends. So it is important for me to find time to have a quick coffee or drink with my girl pals in order to keep me charged and entertained.
I enjoy meeting people, networking, and I get my kick out of introducing friends and business contacts to each other. It always gives me immense pleasure to see a mutually beneficial relationship between friends whom I have connected. I translate this in my business too and never hesitate to introduce the designers to big buying houses or boutiques without any financial gain in that arena and without a fear that they may not endorse Vimonisha.
I love the adrenaline rush of recognising an opportunity, creating a brand and and seeing a project through to fruition.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Have a clear plan of what you want to do, and be committed to it. Do not waver. Be persistant and most importantly be honest to yourself and your clients. If you feel you do not have the expertise to handle something, don’t be afraid to say it. They will appreciate you more for that rather than promising the world and not delivering, Always under promise so that it leads to customer delight rather than just customer satisfaction.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
Chennai shopping in particular and all the shopping groups on Facebook who very graciously post our invite for exhibitions as the header to their page. India mart and biz trade through which we generate many enquiries and all the ladies groups that support our exhibitions have also helped immensely.
Media like the Hindu, Times of India, India Express, Verve Magazine, Vogue, Femina and others who always preview our shows, support our publicity campaigns, contests and promotions.
Cosmetic brands Shiseido and Schwarzkoph who generously give us beauty products and hampers for our contests and our guests.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
More accurate databases of buyers – we need a way to tell the people that a wonderful designer show is in their city and not have them read about it in the papers later.
What does the future hold for you?
Expanding the business to other cities and internationally too.
Handling solo shows for brands who wish to promote their range with us.
Email: [email protected]
Cell: +91 9820043549