‘Surround yourself with people who share your dreams and see your visions.’
Being an entrepreneur has its challenges but I can tell you (from personal experience) the rewards outweigh them by far. This is the reason why so many people choose to leave the 9-5 routine for a the #entrepreneurlife. But who are these people? Why did they do it and what advice can they give you?
Any good marketer will tell you, story telling is extremely important and who doesn’t love a good story? So each month I will feature one entrepreneur, these are real people with inspiring stories to tell!
Prernaa Makhariaa, Founder Style Prer
Described as india’s first jewellery influencer, Mumbai based Prernaa Makhariaa founded her jewellery blog, Style Prer in 2015. Her passion for jewellery has taken her worldwide to some of the most extraordinary jewellery shows in the world including DJWE ( Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition), Jewellery Arabia in Bahrain, JCK & Couture in Las Vegas, India International Jewellery Show (IIJS), Vicenza in Italy and any more. As well as writing about jewellery, her expertise doesn’t end there, as she also designs and manufactures her own luxury collections under her name Prernaa Makhariaa. Keen to see how her love for art led her into the jewellery industry, this month we get to know the inspiration behind Style Prer.
What is your background? Tell us about your experience and your journey.
It’s a funny story, I wanted to be a character animator and pursued formal training in it in 2001. Back then there were not many opportunities in India for it and I did not want to move abroad. Being from the Indian Marwari community jewellery came naturally to me as I had grown up seeing some of the best / high jewellery within the family.
I took formal training in jewellery designing, graduate diamonds, accredited jewellery professional, pearl grading from Gemological Institute Of America ( GIA ). I gained a Diploma in gemology and diamonds from Gemological Institute Of India ( GII ) and Jewellery Manufacturing from SNDT.
As I am the first generation jeweller in my family. I worked with a couture jewellery designer for a year and then headed jewellery product development and merchandising for 5 years with a company that had 50 jewellery retail stores across the country. Simultaneously, I did jewellery trunk shows across India, participated in jewellery fashion shows, and won accolades for my work.
I was often approached by media houses for featuring my jewellery and writing guest articles for them. That’s how I realised my flair for writing. While designing jewellery, styling was another important aspect that I would pay attention to because I felt that wearing / carrying it appropriately mattered a lot.
In 2015 there wasn’t much happening in India when it came to promoting jewellery on social media. I saw a niche in the market as there were no jewellery influencers in India. That’s when Style Prer was born and that’s how my entrepreneurial spirit was ignited .
I was often approached by the media houses for featuring my jewellery and writing guest articles for them. That’s how I realised my flair for writing.
Which brands have you been most inspired by in the industry? What has been your favourite piece of jewellery?
It will be hard to pick a favourite brand, it’s like asking a mother who is your favourite child 🙂
However I do look up to the work of Viren Bhagat, JAR, royal jewels showcased and auctioned on the pages of Christies Jewels and Sothebys By Jewels. India has some magnificent jewellery, especially that was owned by the Nizams and some of the royal families.
Apart from royal jewellery, I firmly believe in supporting budding talent. If I do find an innovative concept, manufacturing technique or jewelry that entices me, I do like to showcase their work on my page.
‘Apart from royal jewellery, I firmly believe in supporting budding talent. If I do find an innovative concept, manufacturing technique or jewellery that entices me, I do like to showcase their work on my page.’
What about your own collection, do you have a particular style? What kind of jewellery do you design yourself?
My personal choice of jewellery is very experimental. It can vary from being classic to contemporary or colorful, can be understated to wearing statement pieces or extremely bold to not wearing any jewellery at all. It all depends on the occasion and how I choose to style it. Being an influencer gives me the opportunity to showcase all of these.
Personally I am a big fan of accessories. Also known as “The Tiara Girl” in the indian jewellery industry because of my fondness for Tiaras and jewelled hair accessories.
Since I am into customising jewellery, each piece is different as I like to understand what my client has in mind and then curate it depending on their personality. I specialise in curating bridal jewellery trousseau, so the benefit of approaching a jewellery connoisseur like me is that they can have the jewellery designed and manufactured from me and alternatively if they like any jewellery from a particular brand or designer, I can facilitate them to meet the brand / designer especially in India and many internationally too.
Off late I have designed for myself ( one-of-a-kind) a business card holder in a combination of silver and gold, with enamelled motifs of a peacock and lotus ( my favourite motifs ) along with uncut diamonds and engraving.
Switching from jewellery designing and manufacturing to jewellery influencing in 2015 was a challenge in itself. Since I was the first jewellery influencer in India, the audience in India and people from the jewellery trade did not understand what jewellery influencing was. I had to be really patient to make them understand and in the beginning do free projects to make the audience ( including the trade people ) understand what this is about. It was a game of patience. It took me almost a year until I was in a position to charge the brands commercially.
There were days I wanted to give up and want to again take up a job, I would just shut myself from work that day. The next day I would begin fresh and with a positive attitude. I must say that my family and friends have been very supportive in my journey.
Finally, what advice would you give to others who want to follow your journey?
From having a full time secure job and salary to becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy but it isn’t that tough either…
1. To begin a new business or be an entrepreneur, you have to be really patient. Like its said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” It will take time but the fruits will eventually bear.
2. Competition is healthy. It makes me want to be ahead of the game.
3. Building a team at some point is important to grow the business.
Tip of the month
‘There were days I wanted to give up and want to again take up a job, I would just shut myself from work that day. The next day I would begin fresh and with a positive attitude. I must say that my family and friends have been very supportive in my journey.’
Jo Ketteringham, Owner Scriptease Television Ltd
Autocue expert Jo Ketteringham has been working in the TV Industry for over 30 years. After working as a prompt operator for a company for 25 of those, she decided to set up her own business in 2010. Having worked alongside some incredible people including HRH Prince Charles & David Attenborough, she tells us what it’s really like to work behind the scenes. An honest and authentic insight into another impressive female entrepreneur.
What’s your story, tell us a bit about your background?
I worked as a full-time staff member for a Teleprompt company (the generic term people tend to recognise is Autocue) for over 25 years!!! That’s a long time to feel under-valued and to do nothing about it! I had little self-belief, but it kept being pointed-out to me by not only other crew members and Production but also my family and my partner that the wide-ranging experience gained throughout those years, plus the contacts I’d made, made it a “no-brainer” to not only go Freelance, but to set up my own company, supplying equipment and other Operators, as well as myself for Live Events, TV, Films and Video Shoots, etc …
Have you worked with any interesting characters, celebrities etc?
I currently work for HRH Prince Charles at least twice a month and HRH Camilla Duchess of Cornwall – and various other members of the Royal Household, which is a massive honour.
I’m have had experiences money couldn’t buy – I was once flown to Cyprus, helicopter lifted from there onto The Ark Royal before the start of the last Gulf War – I slept with the WRENS in their bunks and witnessed the Marines preparing for landings throughout the night..
I’ve stood in the middle of the Fens with Sir David Attenborough while he giggled about knowing “so little” about the birds we were supposed to be filming … and I looked forward to meeting Kevin Spacey before we started filming in Abu Dhabi (as it turns out it perhaps is not my fondest memory …! Not an easy man)
‘I currently work for HRH Prince Charles at least twice a month and HRH Camilla Duchess of Cornwall – and various other members of the Royal Household, which is a massive honour.’
What has been the best thing about being your own boss?
There are so, so many!
I love it … A job that I did for 25 years and was frankly bored of – now feels completely different – challenging, enormous fun and I actually thoroughly enjoy evaluating and quoting for a job… with each booking confirmed, I feel a huge sense of pride that they CHOSE me – out of all the companies out there, they want me onsite! and it’s certainly NOT because I’m the cheapest – I am NOT competitive price wise. Over 30 years of experience comes at a price. Know and understand your Value and what you are bringing >.. (important lesson)
‘A job that I did for 25 years and was frankly bored of – now feels completely different – challenging, enormous fun..’
Now, by the time I get to site (location) and show day, I’ve already established a relationship with the Production team because of phone calls and emails running up to that date (honestly, I used to arrive on site and I would have no idea who my contact was, what was really expected of me and usually the kit requirements were rarely correct, so being the only Prompter I had to deal with and manage expectations!) Now I know exactly what’s required, timings, floor plans and scripts. I’ve trained up a few Operators, which in itself is enormously rewarding . I also have a reasonable chance of saving enough money to retire in a few years’ time (the whole time I was a staff member, there was no pension in place in the company I worked for, illegal now by the way …)
Every day is different, different locations not just throughout the country but all over the world . The working day can be very long day – it’s not unusual to work over 16 hours . I can work on six different productions over six days – and they don’t care if you’ve been working until 02.00hrs the previous day for another company, because they are paying you to be onsite and raring to go at 07.00 the next day for them. It’s not relentlessly like this, but there are definite hotspots throughout the year that can be exhausting – but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel … I guess that’s a sign that you enjoy your working environment?!
I know I wouldn’t work well in the same office, same hours, same people every day … but honestly, sometimes it would be nice to arrive on a shoot, and know everyone’s name, and they know yours and what you’re about, without the wary questioning and assumptions that I sometimes have to deal with … peaks and troughs eh?
‘…out of all the companies out there, they want me onsite! and it’s certainly NOT because I’m the cheapest – I am NOT competitive price wise. Over 30 years of experience comes at a price. Know and understand your Value and what you are bringing >.. (important lesson)’
What challenges have you faced?
It was very, very scary – initially – I felt cast adrift… the weight of responsibility felt enormous and the challenges of being a Head of Department – on massive shoots, responsible for H & S, Method Statements and Risk Assessments – to quoting and evaluating production requirements correctly before getting onsite – then making sure all the kit was not only working but that I knew how to trouble-shoot every part of it… and then actually operating on the show.
It can be pretty stressful, especially if you’re “live” on air, I work in the gallery alongside the Director, Producers, Script Supervisors and Channel Commisioners – it can get very loud and often shouty! Scripts will change, even while you’re broadcasting – this will be because timings have altered or the message they want to get across has altered – or many other odd reasons – (we have to scrupulously stick to timings for scheduling reasons – you have to hit the “Off Air” time bang on – not a second too late otherwise there can be massive repercussions – although, let’s face it, we’re not saving lives or launching rockets!)
Before I bought my kit I used to hire other Prompt companies’ equipment – I very quickly realised I needed to buy my own as soon as possible – this was highlighted on a particularly demanding show – T4 All Stars (an old Channel 4 Teen Concert show) … the laptops I had hired weren’t looked after, had all sorts of viruses that interfere with the Prompt Software I used – and during the rehearsals I realised the 200 page script I was scrolling through (and had taken hours to upload and format) was being “eaten away” as I rolled it – literally the script was disappearing before me – LOST and the hard drives were failing… it was a Trojan Horse Virus.
Finally, what advice would you give to others who want to follow your journey?
Work hard at building great relationships with the people around you in your workplace – reinforce them – value them – tell them you value them – and most importantly, show them you value them …
Never burn a bridge – because it’s rarely just the one bridge that gets burnt!
Be Kind . Be Flexible. Be proud of what you’re doing – it takes great courage to “fly solo” – never underestimate your courage! And smile …
Tip of the month
‘Work hard at building great relationships with the people around you in your workplace…Never burn a bridge – because it’s rarely just the one bridge that gets burnt! ‘
You can learn more about Jo and the work she has done by visiting her website here
INTERNATIONAL WOMENS MONTH FEMPRENEUR SPECIAL
Sukhina Garcia, Owner Betty Brown Boutique
To celebrate International Women’s Month, we are extending our Entrepreneur Life interview giving you a really detailed insight into one of our fempreneurs including lots more business advice!
Award winning fashion designer and one of Leicester’s most stylish women, Sukhina Garcia set up her fashion boutique Betty Brown 4 years ago. Betty Brown Boutique located in the trendy Stoneygate area of Leicester originally stocked a range of beautiful bespoke designs all created by Sukhina, who describes herself as a self-taught dressmaker. This year sees the business going through a massive shift with some exciting changes due to take it to a whole new level for 2019 and beyond
Passion & Fashion
Where did your love for fashion begin?
Do you remember there use to be a program on BBC1 in the 80’s called ‘The Clothes Show Live’? It was hosted by Caryn Franklin and Jeff Banks; it was the highlight of my TV week! I’d literally be waiting with the VCR ready to press record, as far as I can think back.
I’ve always had a natural love and appreciation for clothes and as a child, I daydreamed about gowns and was wowed by the dresses I’d see in window displays on my Saturday afternoon trips to the city.
I actually remember when I was 8 or 9 years old on the weekends, I use to try to create dresses and accessories out of things I could find around the home, like black bin liners! I used to use a stapler and sellotape to create the silhouette and then stick things to it. I have a photo somewhere of a full outfit including accessories, I must find it haha!
The 90’s introduced ‘The Supermodels’ Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. These glamazons took the fashion world by storm walking for all the top designers and appearing on all the magazine covers. I was transfixed by their beauty and style, and when they strut their stuff down the runway, they were invincible like the Avengers; as a young girl it made me dream of being a part of that world one day, I mean every girl dreams of being a model right? But I knew that’s not where I belonged.
Even later in secondary school I recall doing an English research assignment on Alexander Mcqueen; none of my friends knew who the hell I was talking about, I don’t think the teacher did either. I think I was always instinctively drawn towards the excitement, creativity, beauty, and glamour of fashion.
‘I recall doing an english research assignment on Alexander Mcqueen.. None of my friends knew who the hell I was talking about… I don’t think the teacher did either. So I just think I was always instinctively drawn towards the excitement, creativity, beauty, and glamour of fashion.’
What made you want to open up your own boutique?
My Dream. To achieve my dream. I’ve worked in fashion since the age of 15. My first job was at Net Pilot for women, a designer boutique in Leicester city. From there throughout my education I worked in high end fashion retail stores such as Kookai, Selfridges & Co and House of Fraser.
Following this, I had a career with several fashion retail brands where I had senior roles enabling me to learn about all aspects of the industry which really stimulated my creative side. It dawned upon me that there was no reason that I couldn’t do this for myself and that’s where the idea of Betty Brown was conceived.
Over the years I had dabbled with designing dresses and trying to launch Betty Brown as a sideline business, but it never actually transpired. So when I turned 30, I left my career and went back to the sewing machine. I spent just over a year teaching myself techniques from all sorts of platforms like books to YouTube on how to design and create, and to be honest I’m still learning. The more I practiced to sew the more I loved what I could achieve and the more I knew I could really turn dreams into reality, not just my own boutique but my own brand in my own boutique!
Style & Inspiration
How would you describe your personal style and the style of the clothes you create?
Currently I’m really into denim. My style is quite mood dependant really and very eclectic. I like to stretch it a little, I like what I like. One day you’ll see me in a Dolce and Gabbana lace dress in the supermarket and another you’ll see me at afternoon tea in a pair of H & M dungarees paired with a pair of Converse.
I go through phases of only wearing Black. I have a whole wardrobe dedicated to this phase which normally happens October to February. In the Summer I tend to stick to more of a 70’s look. I’m definitely a lover of the 70’s; faux fur coats, bootleg jeans, flares, silk scarfs, boots, floral maxi dresses…big sunnies. Love!
However, the style of Betty Brown is somewhat different. I’d describe it as very classic with a contemporary/creative edge to withstand time. The brand is about investment and not fast fashion. It’s about creating clothes that are wearable, comfortable, consistently glamorous and not mass produced that you would have seen it elsewhere, the kind of clothes that make another woman approach you in the street to ask where your dress was from, that is actually the core marketing strategy…We don’t pay for advertising, our clients do it for us.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere and if you don’t see it, you’re not looking hard enough. Always keep your eyes open. Look at things from a new perspective and feed your imagination, expose yourself to new things, explore…
Exhibitions…I love going to see as much as I can even if it’s not fashion related… I travel all over Europe to see exhibitions.
Art…There’s so much inspiration here to be had. Most popular examples I can give you are Damien Hirst and Alexander Mcqueen, everyone knows that one.
Film…Gosh film… Casino, Cleopatra (1963), The Great Gatsby, SATC, Clueless, Rear Window 1954, Blade Runner, Funny Face, Grand Budapest Hotel, I can go on and on…
The street..LONDON!! Whenever I feel I need some inspo I go to london for a few days.. People watch. I’ve travelled to places like Paris, Milan, NYC but London just cuts it for me the most.
Music…Goths, Punk, Rock, New romantics, Acid house, Rap, Pop… it tells you what’s going on in the world.
My Clients….I talk to them… what do they want? What’s missing? What colours are they feeling? What part of their life do they want new clothes for?
Digital Images…social media – My screenshot folder on my phone is huge! I love collecting references for inspiration.
‘Inspiration is everywhere and if you don’t see it… you’re not looking hard enough. Always keep your eyes open. Look at things from a new perspective. Feed your imagination… expose yourself to new things’
Entrepreneurship & Advice
What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of being an entrepreneur?
Belief. The Best thing about being self-employed is you believe in what you do. I wholeheartedly love and believe in what I do, and if I continue to be successful, I know I have the means to make a lot of impact on so many levels; people and environment are just two aspects.
Excitement and adventure. I don’t know if working for somebody else will ever give you quite the same level of excitement about your own work. The fact that no two days are ever the same is also a massive advantage of being an entrepreneur.
Freedom. So this year I’ve made a promise to myself to take more time for me, rather than being swallowed up in work. Being self-employed allows me to balance when and where I want to work. If I have a phone, a sketch pad and internet, anywhere in the world can be my office!
Managing Time. I struggle with time management and as a person who plays several different roles at the same time, I just don’t have time to be unproductive and I try to commit to a weekly plan. On a Sunday, I take a pen and paper and consider thoroughly everything I want to achieve in the coming week, I think about larger goals but then again also try to schedule the steps required, this allows me to be prepared to start work on Monday, instead of spending my morning trying to find out where I need to begin. I have to use to diary, an old fashioned paper one, or I’d be a total mess! I try to get tougher with distractions like social media, so if on a particular day I feel I’m not being very productive, I set myself a task to write down after every hour what I got done within those 60 minutes, try it you might be shocked how much time you’ve spent daydreaming, haha!
Drive & Ambition. Being too hard on myself is another thing I battle with; instead of being proud of where I’ve reached so far, I tend to focus on all of the things I haven’t accomplished yet. While, of course, it’s always good to have continuous goals, it’s also important to give yourself a moment to stop and give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve achieved so far.
‘On a Sunday, I take a pen and paper and consider thoroughly about everything I would want to achieve in a particular week, I think about larger goals but then again also try to schedule the steps required.’
What do you believe has made you successful as a business woman?
Honesty – everything I do, every person I communicate with; whether it is a supplier or client.
If you could change one thing about your journey, what would it be?
To have believed in myself from the start and started this journey much earlier. When I was applying for colleges, I applied for a fashion course, my school peers used to laugh at me saying I’d never make it as a fashion designer and so in the end, I held back. I studied business studies like everyone else and even when I went to university, I still had this “I wouldn’t be good enough” attitude and did a boring degree. I would give anything now to go back to university to study fashion. It is the biggest and almost only regret of my life! Believe in yourself and go for it, I can only imagine where I would be now if I’d started this journey at 18, rather than 5 years ago.
What motivates you to keep going and growing?
That’s a real hard one for me to answer, I think motivation is a real personal thing for most people. I’m not sure I’m ready to answer that just yet. However, when I need motivating or feel stuck I turn to books and documentaries. I find books brilliant, I’m currently reading The War of Art.
Finally, What advice would you want to give others who want to follow your path?
For fashion: You must have experience, 90% of designers fail; not because they’re not great at what they do, but because they have no idea about retail, customers and business! Go and work for brands you aspire to be like, LEARN everything you can; from distribution and accounts to merchandising and customer service. Be prepared for tough times. Do NOT give up, no matter how much you struggle. The fight to achieve isn’t easy, but it is worth it in the end.
Entrepreneur: Once you are evolving into a single-minded and engrossed entrepreneur, it is time to put the icing on the cake. Test your ideas. Do not be satisfied to merely be focused. Be focused on the right things at the right time. The way to differentiate the good from the best is to keep testing. Test your approach, test your headlines, test your website, test your market, test your emails, and test your social media strategy. Test, test, test and failure will eventually disappear into the background.
Tip of the month
‘Once you are evolving into a single-minded and engrossed entrepreneur, it is time to put the icing on the cake. Test your ideas. The way to differentiate the good from the best is to keep testing. ‘
Sukhina is currently busy working on her next collection and a few other special projects, you can follow her journeys on Instagram here. You’ll also find her on Facebook as Betty Brown.
Emma Parry, Founder The Bloom Project
Leicester born and bred entrepreneur Emma Parry founded The Bloom Project in 2018 and since launching in September, the quirky florist and plant store has seen great success, a big achievement for our youngest featured femprenur. Moving away from the traditional label, Emma describes herself as a new age florist and the eccentric shop is a reflection of this; on visiting, you’ll find a colourful jungle showcasing unusual blooms, fun flower pots, a statement piece flower fridge and lots more flower inspired nik naks.
So, what’s your story and how did you know you wanted to be a florist and own your own business?
My Mum is the reason I’m a florist. When I was 12 we were daydreaming about what I’d be when I was older and she said she pictured me being a florist and encouraged me from there on. At 16 my Mum drove me round all the Leicester florist shops and one offered me a job as their Saturday girl and that was the beginning. I didn’t want a shop at first, it took a few years and I gained confidence and grew from a shy girl to a confident woman. My love for plants and flowers took over my life and I visited Holland and then knew for sure I needed to bring unusual house plants and blooms to Leicester. Who doesn’t want to be their own boss?!
The Bloom Project isn’t like any other florist, how did you come up with the concept for it?
I take inspiration from my visits to quirky concept stores and plant stores across the country that I saw on Instagram. I needed to open one in Leicester in my style, selling cool plants and flowers. I wanted my shop to be like a little jungle, full of colour and nature. When my friends come to the shop they say it’s exactly like me and my style. I love interior design and it’s great being able to play with that in my own shop. It’s also important to me to be the face of the business. I want to be approachable and friends with my customers. I love having regulars pop in for a chat and building relationships with the locals.
‘It’s also important to me to be the face of the business. I want to be approachable and friends with my customers. I love having regulars pop in for a chat and building relationships with the locals.’
You have had an amazing few months. How have you been growing your business and what has been your highlight?
Instagram – it is amazing for promoting the shop and getting people’s interest. I often have customer’s travelling from all over Leicestershire to come visit because they’ve seen me on Instagram. I’ve had so many highlights, it’s hard to pick one. A highlight is my first booking for a wedding, a month after opening. It seems silly as it’s part of the business, but it was an honour to have a couple choose me for their special day and I get butterflies every time somebody books with me. Another highlight has to be going on BBC Radio Leicester. They interviewed me and I was so nervous, but I faced my fear of public speaking and it was a great platform to talk about the shop.
‘Instagram – it is amazing for promoting the shop and getting people’s interest. I often have customer’s travelling from all over Leicestershire to come visit because they’ve seen me on Instagram.’
What does the future look like for The Bloom Project? What is your vision?
My future at the shop is to be fully booked with weddings, doing more workshops and I want a member of staff; it gets lonely! I hope to also take on more contract work with businesses, providing fresh flowers or plant styling in offices/work spaces. Having the business is also a way for me to progress in life. I want to have a steady income, move out from my parent’s and a holiday every year!
‘I want to have a steady income, move out from my parent’s and a holiday every year!’
Finally, what advice would you give to others who want to follow your journey?
Learn your trade. It took me from the age of 16 and I studied it for 2 years, whilst working in the industry and was open to every opportunity that was presented. It takes patience and determination, but it pays off and dreams can come true for average Joes from humble backgrounds. Be prepared to sacrifice parts of your life. The business means not having a busy social life and giving up any special holidays because it’s the busiest time for the shop. It’s worth the sacrifice to me because I have freedom in other ways and have the creative outlet I crave. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help. You have to start somewhere and I asked anybody with a little bit of business knowledge for help. It’s hard work and I’m in my shop 6 days a week, 9-6, but I wouldn’t want it any other way and in a year or two I will have the lifestyle I am working hard for.
Tip of the month
‘Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help. You have to start somewhere… ‘
Ashesh L Sajnani, Owner Bombay Food Truck
Mumbai based restauranteur and Director of OPA Hospitality Ashesh Sajnani left India to study at the prestigious Hosta Hotel School of Hospitality & Tourism in Leysin, now a part of Glion Hotel School. In 1999, he returned to India determined to marry his knowledge of the European food culture with his Indian routes and as a result has gone on to open some of the most creative and adventurous food establishments Mumbai has to offer. His accolades include ‘Le Cafe’, Chembur, Bombay’s first floating food truck ‘Bombay Food Truck’ and most recently, the multi cuisine ‘Via Bombay’.
Tell us your story, why hospitality and why more specifically food?
I have always been passionate about the F & B (Food & Beverage) industry and always loved the idea of food and hotels. As a kid and as early as 12 years old I knew I wanted to pursue this as a career choice. I believe food is a great way to connect with people, it’s offers an opportunity to be social. Food feeds the soul and the happiness it brings and untold unheard stories only come with a full tummy.
‘Food feeds the soul and the happiness it brings and untold unheard stories only come with a full tummy.’
Who has been your biggest inspiration in the industry?
My biggest inspiration…if I have to be honest, originally I had none! When I started all I knew is that I had a deep desire to be in the industry. Once I finished studying in Switzerland, I returned to Mumbai and worked at ‘Gallops’, a restaurant located at the Mahalaxmi race course that served Indian and continental cuisine.
It was here that I met my boss at the time Rahul Malik. Rahul had a wealth of experience, he would eat, drink, talk and sleep food. I loved his aura, his vigour and hard working nature, as well as his constant passion for helping people through sharing his culinary knowledge. He became my first inspiration and role model in the business.
Where does your creativity and vision for the concepts you have created come from?
When I first moved back to Mumbai, I used to love going to the local coffee shop but the food they sold lacked imagination! There was a real coffee shop culture starting in India at this time and I knew I could create something to fill this niche, that is how Le Cafe came about.
The restaurant Via Bombay was my attempt at giving back to the city. The concept had been on my mind for a few years, its a reflection of the Bombay that existed back in the day, a city where so many different cultures moved to and called their home. For this reason, on the menu, you will find a dish from every culture. It is a restaurant with no bias, there is something for everyone!
‘Via Bombay was my attempt at giving back to the city I call home’
Bombay Food Truck is a passion project. In my career, I had built a cafe, restaurant and a bar and I wanted to do something completely different and original. Bombay Food Truck was the first of its kind in the city (and country), it serves an authentic fusion of Mumbai flavours with a gourmet street food twist. Popular residences are commercial residences in BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex) and Music Festivals, it has visited every single one in India! It is one the biggest food truck brands in Bombay and has built up a strong reputation across the country.
What has been your biggest achievement and what has been the biggest challenge you have faced being an entrepreneur?
In my career, I still feel I have a lot to achieve, so I can’t pinpoint one thing as being my biggest achievement yet but I feel it might be around the corner!
Being an entrepreneur, you face a new challenge everyday and you are constantly learning. I have been in the industry for 15 years and I am still learning!
‘I can’t pinpoint one thing as being my biggest achievement yet maybe it’s around the corner.’
Finally, what advice would you give to others who want to follow your journey?
When you are thinking about opening a restaurant, it’s important to do your maths. This is vital for success!
Something else you need to do is stay focussed, follow your heart and dreams and do exactly what makes you happy. Believe in yourself and take risks, it’ll be worth the story in the future.
Tip of the month
‘Believe in yourself and take risks it’ll be worth the story in the future.’
Saheli Mirpuri, Founder Saheli Events
After working in the wedding industry for only 20 months, 25 year old Saheli took the plunge and launched her own business Saheli Events in 2017 with a clear vision – to be the go-to events planner in the London area. After only being in the industry for a year, in February, she won the “Best Wedding Planner 2018” award at the British Asian Wedding Awards and was recently awarded the “Most Outstanding Luxury Event and Wedding Planning Agency” in the UK, at the 2018 Luxury Lifestyle Awards by LUX Life Magazine.
What made you decide to start your own business? Where does the passion for Wedding Planning come from?
Planning events has always been something I enjoyed but I grew up thinking Event Planning was just something you can do on the side or for fun, so I never initially pursued it. However, whilst I was at University, I had been President of the Indian Society for 2 years. An event we used to plan for the members was the Indian Society Ball – which in many ways was like an Indian wedding. I literally loved every minute of planning it and that’s when I had my lightbulb moment and realised… this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
So now I had this idea, I knew clearly what I wanted to do and as luck had it, our family friends were building a wedding venue and some friends recommended I approach them to ask about wedding planning, I applied for a position and that’s how my journey into the Industry began. When I started coordinating events there, it became apparent very early on that the planning side of the job was definitely my strength.
When did you decide it was time to go it alone?
By nature I was always an ambitious person, I knew I always wanted something of my own. So in December 2016, I decided I was ready to go solo. Many people shared their own opinions about my bold decision, but I think when you feel that genuine fire inside you and have so much belief in your own dream, you just have to go and get it and that’s exactly what I did. I’m lucky I have such supportive parents who encouraged me to take the plunge and do something that would make me happy.
‘If you have a goal or genuinely are passionate about doing something, then don’t wait for something to fall on your lap.’
How would you describe a day in the life of Saheli Events and what do you love most about your job?
Literally I wish I could! Every single day is so different. As we have so many different couples, different events and they’re all at different stages of their planning, our day to day role differs drastically from having back to back meetings on one day, to follow ups and admin on others. Event days are obviously our busiest, where on some days we are up from 3-4am and only back from the shift 20+ hours later. For me, the fact that every day is so different is exactly why I love this job so much. We meet so many amazing people and the way we get to see an event go from sketches and mood boards to reality, is genuinely so rewarding.
What has been the most important lesson you have learnt since launching your business? How has this impacted you?
The most important lesson I’ve learnt is definitely self motivation. On a daily basis, I literally sell myself the dream telling myself things like ‘If you work hard now, you can retire early and spend time with your family all the time’ or ‘Don’t worry you’ll be a millionaire by 30 if you make x amount of bookings’. It’s different things all the time, sometimes they are just over ambitious, other times I’m super real with myself – but in a nutshell it’s something that’s going to get me up in the morning to do what I’ve got to do. I’ve had to learn to be my bestest friend and biggest fan to motivate myself all the time, otherwise I’d just find myself constantly wondering ‘what if..’.
‘The most important lesson I’ve learnt is definitely self motivation. On a daily basis, I literally sell myself the dream…’
Finally, what advice would you give to others who want to follow your journey?
Honestly, I follow my absolute favourite quote ‘Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do’. If you have a goal or genuinely are passionate about doing something, then don’t wait for something to fall on your lap. You have to start somewhere! We all tend to look at the well established businesses within our the Industry, who become our inspiration or people we look up to, and I think it’s really important to remember that they also started in a similar position and have also worked their way up. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you can always look back and say you tried.
Tip of the month
‘When you feel that genuine fire inside you and have so much belief in your own dream, you just have to go and get it.’
Follow Saheli on Facebook here and Instagram here and watch out for her newest project, Sit Back with Saheli, a talk show style series that goes behind the scenes with some of the finest Asian wedding suppliers in the industry.
Grant Pierrus AKA The Interior Style Hunter
Influencer Grant has been running his award winning blog Interior Style Hunter since 2015. The London based Interior design blog is dedicated to giving design and lifestyle inspiration. His passion stems from the idea that ‘everyone should have access to good design’ and its not necessary to invest in a designer to do so. I interviewed Grant about his blog, achievements and what it’s like being an entrepreneur.
So what’s your story? What’s your background, what did you study and how did you get into interior design?
Gosh, where do I start, in Cape Town in my early 20’s finding my way through the business world. Touching on a few things here and there, property development being one that I really took a shine to. After moving to London and working for a finance firm in the city heading up their marketing, I realised that I didn’t want to be doing that forever. So I took myself off to Central St Martins and studied interior design. I loved the course, and started blogging about it. The blog wasn’t even 6 months old when we started hitting 10’s of thousands of followers on social media and readership. It just exploded, I like to think of it as the right time, but it was a LOT of hard work to get noticed.
Why did you set up your blog? What has been your biggest achievement from it?
I knew from my experience in the City that blogging was absolutely key to building a profile in a sector, and this sector had no idea who I was. So that was my goal in year 1, get recognised. The blog gave me a platform to showcase others and in return, myself. So that really helped me leap my way to the top. I can remember getting a call one day, and it was the PR from Christie’s asking if I would like to join their campaign and create a room set celebrating iconic pieces from their November interiors sale. I almost fell off my chair, but I never said no to these opportunities, no matter how scary they were. Another particular frightening experience was hosting a talk at Maison et Objet with the CEO of Christian Lacroix, I couldn’t even speak on my way to the show. But it was all part of the learning curve, now I’m able to calm people down who are on stage with me so it’s a more enjoyable experience for them and of course the audience.
‘I never said no to these opportunities, no matter how scary they were’
Other than your managing your blog, what else do you do?
So much! The blog is probably 10% of what I do now. I run a marketing agency for interior designers, architects and design brands, we have a wonderful Facebook group for interior designers to share experiences and to learn from each other. I helped launch the first UK interior design charity showhouse last year, and took a group of 60 interior designers to Paris for a design tour. I recently hosted a private tour of the Mayfair Design District. There’s so much, but essentially, once I figured out why I do what I do, my business exploded, and that is that I build community. So anything that falls right into that space, is mine and I’ll run with it.
What opportunities has working for yourself created for you?
The ability to create the life that I want, it sounds glamorous, but it’s very hard work and such a lot of responsibility, especially when you’re responsible for team members too. Not only their salaries, but also helping them to grow and learn more. I look at life differently now that I work for myself, always seeing new opportunties and trying to help others with their businesses too. It gives you a freedom to be your best self.
‘I look at life differently now that I work for myself, always seeing new opportunities and trying to help others with their businesses too’
Finally, what advice would you give to other people who want to follow your entrepreneurial journey?
It’s hard work and you’ve got to learn to sacrifice your time. There are a lot of people out there all trying to achieve the same thing, so you’ve got to work harder and smarter. I recently started working with a wellness coach to help me slow down – I know it doesn’t make sense, but I get so caught up in the fast paced world in London that I can forget to look after myself. But I also know that in the first 3 years, that 24/7 dedication most definitely fast tracked me to where I am today. Also, people are nice, so ask for help, go work for a business owner and learn.
Tip of the month
‘There are a lot of people out there all trying to achieve the same thing, so you’ve got to work harder and smarter.’