Asha Gupta – A bespoke bridal wear designer
Asha Gupta is a reputable Bespoke Bridal wear Designer based in New Delhi and is the founder of the Label Vinayak Couture. She has been doing Bridal couture for past 17 years and has designed Bridal/Indian wear for more than 5000 brides and their families. Irony as it may sound but Asha never went to any fashion institute nor there was any family member or support in the fashion industry but it was her passion and hard work that creative girl from Akola, Maharashtra today is a well-known name in the industry.
She recalls “For me Fashion itself is a way of communication and my designs were the only answers to the questions asked by media in English as I never learnt that language (English)”. She always believed in hard work and never made a difference whether she gets fame or not. Her consummate creativity and hard work has got her clients from across the globe. She has designed from top corporate families to Bollywood and actress like Prachi Desai, KalkiKoechlin to Sonal Chauhan have worn her creations.
We have tried to narrate her success story here as an Interivew, taken by Kalpana Dave , Expert on Thecompletewoman (TCW)
Kalpana@TCW: How did you get inspired to start your idea?
Ashaji: I was very fond of clothes from my childhood and used to make clothes for myself from my mother’s old sarees. Marriage and family happened and that passion was side-lined but when my daughters got married I designed their trousseau. Everybody just loved it so much that they asked me to pursue it professionally. I was free from my responsibility as a mother so discussed it with my family. My family was quiet supportive and I started with a small collection of 50 pcs in 1998 and invited family and friends. Rest is history (started with team of 2 tailors in 1998 and have 300 plus people in 5 states working directly and indirectly for her today)
Kalpana@TCW: At what age did you start with this venture?
Ashaji: I was 43 when I started it (she has proved that life begins at 40+)
Kalpana@TCW: How difficult was it to get your idea across and prove yourself? I’m sure there were people who didn’t believe in your idea, right?
Ashaji: As I said earlier I was given lot of support from near and dear ones to take my passion professionally but yes there were also a section who doubted my talent. During those days woman working was not so much encouraged in our families but with my family my side I got the actual support. I remember only one thing “Keep working and keep believing that I can do it.”
Kalpana@TCW: What are your strengths?
Ashaji: Determination, hard work, Creativity, Eagerness to learn new things and above all Family.
Kalpana@TCW: Was there anyone behind you to keep you motivated and inspire you?
Ashaji: My husband and my son. They both were like two pillars.
Kalpana@TCW: How did you manage financially?
Ashaji: I had some savings of my own and then I took a loan from a relative to start of initially then things followed automatically as I used to re- invest whatever I earned.
Kalpana@TCW: What were the major hurdles you came across that made things difficult to move on?
Ashaji: During those times finding good labour was a very big challenge plus other resources like raw materials, finances, marketing etc. Travelling to remote areas of our county for work was very tough so either my son or husband used to travel with me. First two or three years it was very difficult but then things got sorted slowly.
Kalpana@TCW: Do you think you had to prove yourself more because you are a woman?
Ashaji: Unfortunately YES, it was a tough phase as working woman were not given so much respect then. The terms which were used that time was not easy to take in stride.
Kalpana@TCW: Did you have this vision right from the beginning that you wanted to become well known with your work, or did one thing lead to another and also a bit of luck that helped you?
Ashaji: I never ever worked for being famous. I never had any VISION nor did I make any marketing strategies etc I just enjoyed my work every day from then then till now. I believed that if your PRODUCT is strong and you are CREATIVE then things automatically follow. We never hired PR machinery for more than a decade. For the past three to four years we have been doing some marketing and PR that also due to my son’s insistence.
Kalpana@TCW: Did people around you react differently when they realised that you were doing really well in business and became someone through your work?
Ashaji: Yes if I compare the initial phase to the past several years I fee l the difference as now I get a lot more respect.
Kalpana@TCW: What are your future plans?
Ashaji: I want to keep doing good work and grow but doing quality work only. I want to expand my work and see our Label – #Vinayak #Couture going international also.
Kalpana@TCW: Is there anything you would have done differently if given a second chance?
Ashaji: There are lot of things which can be done differently but one major thing I feel I missed was to focus on Branding and PR around 2003 when my son insisted on it a lot. If we would have focused little more on that area also then the Label- Vinayak Couture would have been positioned much better.
Kalpana@TCW: If fashion did not work for you what other career options was there for you, your other vision/passion in life?
Ashaji: Though this is the only profession I could have though to do. Still if that wouldn’t have worked then also I would have continue to work may be in interiors or Handicrafts.
Kalpana@TCW: Any major mistakes you made and regret?
Ashaji: I never focussed much on Packaging, Promotion and Branding and now I feel I should have understood that any profession needs 360 degrees of efforts. One needs to change with times and today it is all about BRANDING.
Kalpana@TCW: Having come this far, do you feel you need to still reach another level in this industry or are you content and just wish to maintain the business? What is your next wish?
Ashaji: When I see more than 200 families directly or indirectly living on our work I feel honoured. So I feel I need to do much more as it looks like a payback time. I want to open a flagship store and work to make our Label international.
Kalpana@TCW: What advice would you give to other women/girls who have a vision and wish to start their own business with their unique idea?
Ashaji: The most important advice I would say is to take that profession that you really enjoy doing and you are really passionate about. One needs to give their best in any profession one chooses and also there is no shortcut to hard work so don’t look for overnight success. Lastly be honest to your stakeholders i.e. Customers, Vendors, Employees etc as then only they will be your strengths.
Kalpana@TCW: Any special message to the readers ..!
Ashaji: The journey of 17 years has taught biggest lesson of my life; have Self-belief, So one should always be positive, determined and true to your work.
Asha Gupta has been awarded for her work at several occasions. She has recently collaborated with lot of weavers in remote parts of our country to revive handloom fashion. She says “It’s Payback time and now I want to do things which not only make my company grow but the society in general.”