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Female Entrepreneur: Vibhuti Bhandarkar – YOLO by Vibz

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I’m a professionally qualified Commercial artist and Eng. Copywriter from Mumbai but I started my career in Pune in 2004.

YoloI was a freelance Graphic Designer and  Eng. Copywriter for  top brands and Ad agencies in Pune in the initial years. I’d also written feature articles on a freelance basis for the Times of India supplements until 2006. I have always been experimenting with my areas of expertise and dabbling in various career options. I have conceptualised and designed the interiors for niche lounges in resorts in Goa. I owned and successfully ran an Art Gallery and Art Curatorial Services in Pune until I went on a maternity sabbatical. I resurfaced as an avid and popular blogger in 2009 and went on to become a published author with my first collection of short stories Titled ‘Not Totally Unbelievable’. However my latest venture and current passion is ‘YOLO’ which is a label for exclusive and bespoke designer, fully hand-painted fashion accessories. And I finally think Vibz has found her calling!

That thought suddenly gave me a spark of an idea, ‘What if I’m able to bring a confluence of both my interests?’

Tell us about the company you have set up

YOLO was born only recently, in February 2014 – from that single thought that YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE! Everybody needs to make the most of this one life we have. The spirit of YOLO is young and the youth are game to sport innovative fashion accessories. Since these are entirely hand-painted, they are slotted as luxury and designer wear. Hence the target audience for this label is mainly the working/earning age group from ages 20-30. Now I’ve also been approached to design unique home accessories and am working on a couple of very interesting projects. I am primarily selling only online. I’ve utilised only the online social media to market YOLO. You can visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/YOLObyVibz.

I am going to let people inspire me into making hand-painted fashion accessories, ranging from handbags, scarves and stoles, jackets and tees, to mobile covers and even shoes. The upcoming season will see YOLO catering to niche Home Decor ideas too. My artistic services deliver absolutely unique and bespoke, designer art pieces.

What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?

I am a skilled illustrator with knowledge of varied media and genre. I had bagged a lot of trophies for my sketching skills back in the college days. As an artist I always wanted to do more than just paint blank canvases. Simultaneously my innate passion for fashion was suddenly yearning for a medium of expression. The love for fashion accessories has always been synonymous with my personality, my friends will fully agree. That thought suddenly gave me a spark of an idea, ‘What if I’m able to bring a confluence of both my interests?’

I cannot afford to be disorganised anymore. I cannot ‘wing it’ or ‘go-with-the-flow’ or even ‘cross-the-bridge-when-we -get-there’, like the teenager Vibhuti used to.

I soft launched YOLO on an impulse on FaceBook, displaying a few of my experiments in hand-painted footwear. The overwhelming response that I began to receive made me sit up and focus on YOLO as a serious enterprise.

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

The biggest challenge I face while working for YOLO is juggling my various primary roles –  being a homemaker, mum to two naughty boys and playing a doting wife. Family comes first for me. I usually work in the nocturnal hours after my children have gone off to bed and sometimes I work late into the wee hours. To end a hectic day and still have the energy, patience and mood to devote for hand-painting YOLO fashion accessories is quite a challenge!

Working with short deadlines for bespoke custom designed pieces is also a challenge I face. I cannot hurry a job even though I may be hard pressed for time since each has to be a well-made individually painted piece. My style of painting has a lot of detailing to be finished with great patience.

The answer to all my problems is TIME PLANNING! I cannot afford to be disorganised anymore. I cannot ‘wing it’ or ‘go-with-the-flow’ or even ‘cross-the-bridge-when-we -get-there’, like the teenager Vibhuti used to. Every move has to be well thought-out, pre-meditated, unlike before. A good dose of self-motivation is also required.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

The fact that I’ve been able to give my family top priority and yet pursue my career is a great achievement in itself for me. To get a foot-hold in the market despite all the tough competition from already established names in the industry is a feather in my cap.

Painting is therapy for me so I can easily let my ‘ME’ time coincide with the time devoted for YOLO. I’m lucky that I find it relaxing and fun to paint and create all those fashion accessories. It’s never actually a task to me.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My mother, will remain my biggest inspiration always even though she is no more. I lost her at the tender age of 19. She was a down-to-earth homemaker and also an ambitious, focussed and hard-working business woman. A multi-talented persona. She was a radio jockey on regional radio channels in her college days and was a young entrepreneur in the 70s. She’d launched a self-funded quarterly fashion magazine in South Mumbai called ‘Sapphire’ and managed to successfully run it for a year until she got married. Among her other smaller ventures after marriage, I’m proud of the way she managed home and made me her pet project later. Rearing me with the same ambition and passion for life. She always motivated and inspired me to be an achiever in whatever I do!

How do you balance your work life and home life?

Like I mentioned, I have always given my family-life priority over my professional-life. I plan everything around my family’s needs. My daily schedule is planned accordingly.

Painting is therapy for me so I can easily let my ‘ME’ time coincide with the time devoted for YOLO. I’m lucky that I find it relaxing and fun to paint and create all those fashion accessories. It’s never actually a task to me.

Unlike other professionals, the time I work on YOLO is actually the time I break from household chores and responsibilities. I have sacrificed some sleep hours in the night for YOLO and have included some power naps during the day to catch up on my sleep.

What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?

For married women and young mothers who are starting a business of their own, I can only say that whatever you do, make sure you do it with utter sincerity and focus. You must do so only if you have a fair amount of  time and patience to invest in your business. Monetary gains can never be immediate. There is a lot of pain, long hours of tedious work to put in before one even begins to call it an ‘up and running’ business enterprise. Please don’t jump the gun. Take everything step by step. Stay prepared for your profit margins to be fairly meager, initially. Plan ahead!

Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?

While I was blogging and surfing the Internet I was feeling the pulse. Social media was emerging as the best tool for marketing for small start-ups. Thus my immediate choice was to market my products through Facebook between my friends. However there was a need to grow my reach and hence I began to look for support in networking groups.

Each and every project I’ve ventured into, I’ve put my heart and soul into it.

I also noticed that scores of networking groups were simultaneously mushrooming all over the place but I gravitated towards MompreneursIndia. Please read the VISION & MISSION! It made a direct connect with my heart and thinking. I found that MPI definitely stood apart from the rest because of the creative networking ideas and marketing tools proposed.

Chetana Misra, the founder of MPI has a commendable talent to imbibe a certain energy into us Mompreneurs. Her approach to networking is unique and she works with a resolute focus that every woman entrepreneur needs to learn from.

If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?

I’d like to fully focus on my painting and the designing end. So to propel my business, the one thing I long for is an equally focused, ambitious and competitive marketing lead for my brand.

What does the future hold for you?

Each and every project I’ve ventured into, I’ve put my heart and soul into it. There’s a lot of ambition that defines my goals. The short term goal for YOLO is to start retailing in all the Metro cities. Go overseas with the brand. And then the long term goal is to gain recognition in the mainstream fashion industry.

About Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Vibhuti Bhandarkar aka Vibz is a professionally qualified and experienced artist and Eng.Copywriter. Besides being an Art curator since 2009, she’s primarily a mother to two little naughty boys. She’s recently taken up a new Avatar with ‘YOLO by Vibz’. Vibz recently launched her own label of hand-painted fashion accessories that can also be customised. ‘YOLO by Vibz’ was born when the intense wave of passion for fashion and art became overwhelming for her. She now endeavours to make it a fully-fledged artistic service for personaliased and bespoke wearable art pieces and plans to retail from the metro cities.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YOLObyVibz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/YOLObyVibz

E-mail address: [email protected]

Phone number: +91 78755 56737

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