I am Zenobia S. Davar, a fashion designer by profession. I am a Parsi and follow the Zoroastrian religion. I was born as the first daughter to Noshir and Hutoxi Vajifdar on 06 January 1968. I have two siblings, Anahita and Parizad. I did my schooling at J.B. Vatcha High school and was always passionate about embroidery right from my school days.
I lost my dad when I was 17 years old, and being the eldest sibling in the family, took up the responsibility of looking after his business. He was the owner of ‘Eagle Motors’, a car repair workshop at Dr. Annie Besant Road in Worli, Mumbai. I simultaneously graduated from Lala Lajpatrai College of Commerce and Economics while taking care of my father’s business.
In 1991, I got married to Shahrukh B. Davar and persued a secretarial course at Davars college of commerce. I then worked at Noble House Advertising for three years. In 1998, after the birth of my second child, I joined Sophia Polytechnique for a three year full-time course in dress designing since I was so passionate about embroidery. I managed to get the Best Seamstress for all three years and even topped my class in the final year board exams!
On the basis of my performance in college, my work was recognised by the Bridal Asia Group, and I was offered an opportunity to showcase my collection at the Bridal Asia exhibition, which was held at the Taj Palace in Delhi in October 2000.
In March 2001, I gave birth to my third child and since then have pursued my career from home. I started working under my label ‘ZS Embroidery’, specialising in all forms of embroidery and have created a niche clientele, by ensuring that the items designed by me are one of a kind. I create bridal wear, navjote dresses, party wear, children’s wear, embroidered daglas and daglis, kurtis, embroidered frames, borders, cushion covers, prayer caps and corporate gifts. I undertake embroidery of only authentic hand-embroidered Parsi Gara saris as well as stitching orders for the above.
I have taught students from various colleges the art of different forms of embroidery. I had students from Symbiosis Institute Pune, who learnt the art of gara embroidery, and got their garments embroidered for the fashion show, in which the art was much appreciated, and even managed to get first position.
In February 2011, I was approached by Mr. D. B. Biswas (Executor and Trustee to the estate of the late Dr. Jamshed J. Bhabha) for the valuation and classification of garments and accessories at his residence.
In March 2011, I was approached by a producer, Ms. Priya Krishnaswamy, who wanted to make a film to promote an art and picked on authentic Gara embroidery. The film was made by NFDC. They liked my collection of Gara embroidery and I assisted them by providing them with 25 gara garments. The fashion show in the film was choreographed by Achala Sachdev and the film was called “Gangoobai” and was released on 11 January 2013.
In addition I have had the privilege of contributing some of my antique collections towards the embroidered textile section in the exhibition “Across Oceans Flowing Silks, from Canton to Bombay 18th to 20th Centuries”, held at the NGMA in 2014. This was organised and curated by Mrs. Pheroza J. Godrej and Mrs. Firoza Punthakey Mistry.
I am now a member of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which fosters entrepreneurship, helping women from all over the world to connect through this forum. Accordingly on 15 July 2014, I hosted Mrs. Cherie Blair, along with other staff members of her foundation. Mrs. Blair loved my creations and while going through my work, she observed that the back of the embroidery looked as good as the front, which is the real test of good workmanship. Mrs. Blair described the work as being “incredible”. She presented me with a personally signed biography and a momento in the form of a china plate of London. In turn I presented an embroidered frame, specially prepared for her, which now holds the pride of place in her office back in London. Mrs. Blair even took another frame which has since been presented to the British Consul General of India.
I have been in this field for over a decade and really enjoy my work. I believe in being innovative and creating masterpieces that are unique.
Tell us about the ZS Embroidery
I launched ZS Embroidery in 2001 and am today recognised as one of the most genuine and gifted designers, specialising in this art. I deal and promote only authentic hand-embroidered garas and always try and fit it into my client’s budget. As the art of authentic hand embroidered garas is a dying art, these pieces are ideal heirlooms that can be passed on for generations. Therefore it’s always wiser to invest in a genuine piece, as their value keeps appreciating like wit gold. I always believe in giving my best to my customers and would never compromise on quality.
There are very few skilled artisans left who actually do this type of work, so we need to give them regular work and help them to sustain so I launched a new line of product in 2014, by creating beautiful hand embroidered frames which are actually a piece of art.
Why did you set up the company?
I was always passionate about embroidery, and wanted to do something I was interested in and to which I could give my 100% best. Taking one day at a time and putting in my best effort made me an entrepreneur. Right from childhood, I always wanted to be my own boss.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The key to success is to remain committed and be persistent towards achieving your goals. Creating my brand and my niche clientele was my biggest challenge
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I still have to achieve lots more!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My loving family, my husband, my late mom-in-law, and my mother.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
Working from home was the best way to have this balance.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Believe in yourself; be persistent and committed towards your goal.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
Yes I have benefitted a lot through the Cherie Blair Foundation. They helped me to become computer savvy and matched me with a mentor from Mexico, who assisted me in making my website: www.zenobiadavar.com. It helped me to show my creations, and reach out to the world.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Boutiques in prime locations of prime cities.
What does the future hold for you?
Mobile numbers: 9324106568 / 9869028943 / Landline: 02224106568
Email: [email protected]
Facebook page: Zenobia S. Davar
Website: www.zenobiadavar.com and www.zsembroidery.com