Vanita Bhatia is in the midst of final preparations for her fifth and sixth Divalicious fashion exhibitions, on October 15 in Mumbai and on October 20 and 21 at the Ritz-Carlton at the Dubai International Financial Centre. She speaks about the early days of the events and branding.
You haven't always been in the fashion industry. What did you do before you started Divalicious?
I was a private banker [for five years], and after I wanted to do something with fashion because that's always something I have had a flair for.
So why did you go into banking if fashion has always been your interest?
That's what amazed everyone who knew me when they heard I was in banking. But I really enjoyed my job and I'm glad I did that because I learnt the business skills to take a fashion brand forward through my work experience.
The first exhibition started out with 10 brands but your fifth Divalicious event features 100. How do you find them all?
Everyone is getting to know about Divalicious. What helped me more is that I'm launching the brand in Mumbai. I have decided to launch my brand in different cities each year.
Why did you decide to run a fashion exhibition as opposed to a shop?
Firstly I like to try different concepts. A boutique is something that has the excitement at the start and rather than having one boutique I wanted to explore a fashion arena which had different brands under one roof - which is like a shop but you have different stock each time the shop is open. My exhibitors keep changing and growing and if I had to open a store there would be too much competition and I would be restricted to having very few brands. With this, the world is open for me. I can get so many brands from around the world that want to participate.
You must be pretty good at organising things.
It is a nightmare, especially with the 100 exhibitors and my launch in Mumbai. I'm doing a fashion preview, which is a few days prior to the event. Everything happens back to back. I need to be very organised. I need to delegate, so I have assigned people to make sure different things are taken care of. Besides that I have three to four months beforehand when I start planning my event. That gives me a long time to work on things and make sure everything goes perfectly.
How did you fund your business?
It is self-funded. I generate revenue from the exhibitors who participate with me, which goes into the costs, such as the venue for hire etc. In my first year I did not work with any profits because I wanted to establish my brand and make it a strong, concrete platform.