Entrepreneur: Manjulakshmi Bharathan
Business Name: Gills
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 99
Finely designed clothes had always fascinated Manjulakshmi when she was a kid . She would find some time to look at the fabric, texture, colour and other minute details of each piece of cloth she come across. But nobody knew that she would nurture her passion further. What started as a childhood hobby has now grown into a full-fledged chain of fashion brands with presence in India, Qatar and New York.
Now Manjulakshmi is a popular name among fashionistas across the globe. This award-winning fashion designer is at the helm of three brands today – Gills Manjulakshmi, Aadima and Gills Man. She is also a New York Fashion Week consultant. We catch up with this stunning fashion entrepreneur to unravel her exciting story.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
I had passion for it since childhood. It just evolved into a business through years. After Finishing my BFA in Costume and Fashion Technology, I got into teaching as Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and it became an inevitable part of my living.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
Fashion always existed in past, lives in present and will remain in future. It has no time, but certain contexts like use of natural fibers is trending. Since my brands use most of it in silks, linens and organic cottons, banana fibers, jutes and Khadi, it gets a good response for people believe in the healthy fashion lifestyle.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
I had a good support from my parents, they believed in me and the rest was the responsibility on me to keep up to their expectations. their confidence in me have always been my strength
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
In beginning I was not into every opportunity that came my way, I was an easy optionist, so I made some mistakes in selections, but later as things developed to form I realized how it should be done in future. I would not claim it as a mistake, its learners steps.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
Basically I take in challenges, it’s always time management which is a faced trouble as the brand does business in three countries NEW YORK, QATAR AND INDIA. We are looking for more creatives to work with us in future.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
The only habit I would say is relevant is my persistence, if I get a thing I just cannot sleep till I achieve it. No matter how impossible it is.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I would do a business in food. I love food especially anything unique.
8) What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Its better late than never
9) Where do you find inspiration?
My Muse, My motivation is my parents, I always admired my father’s faith and my mother’s will to do things put in her way.
10) What is your favorite book?
THE ALCHEMIST BY PAULO COEHLO
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I don’t think I am yet eligible to give an advice, but still through my steps till here I can share my experience, I would say Never try to imitate or follow the steps of your predecessor, follow your own instincts and ideas, no matter how crazy and impossible it is, it will never go wrong. I would rather put it this way, dream with no limits but simultaneously you would have to work for it too, the rest you can see it happening.
When you choose to do what you love the most, it will take you to the zenith of success. Manjulakshmi nurtured her childhood interest to carve niche for herself in the global fashion sector today. She embraced subtle detailing into every piece of cloth she designed, which made her brands unique. As a designer, Manjulakshmi brought a lot of experiments into her clothing brand. On the entrepreneurial side, she marketed her products among a unique segment of customers.
As she points, never blindly follow what others are doing as it breaks your business and affects your credibility. Believe in your own ideas and work towards to turning them into reality. A big thanks to Manjulakshmi for sharing her inspiring entrepreneurial journey.