Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul. ~Alice Walker
Meet Babita Jaishanker, who is in the business of restoring her own soul along with the souls of those she helps find beauty in all its glory. Her name rings a bubbly energy. Her persona justifies it. She is bubbly, energetic and full of positivity! Her frequent profile pictures in new trendy clothes inspire many to dress better. And the élan with which she carries off her dresses has many aspiring to do the same everyday.
Talk to the lady and the message is clear- beauty is not about just changing your body type, having their perfect BMI or getting the fabulous nose-job. To her, looking beautiful is feeling beautiful- inside out!
Over the years, she has walked her talk through her double venture adventure. Her Consulting House, Wardrobe Solutions, or WSol, has transformed hundreds of men and women into fittingly confident human beings, ready to soar and take on the world. In Babita’s own words, her image makeovers are not just for Page 3 people. Her solutions are for the everyday office-goer, the aspiring student, the harried new mom or the under-whelmed homemaker. Her other venture, BAJA compliments this one- a unique clothing brand that blends global wear with traditional Indian fabrics. Her clientele list ranges from Miss Bangalore to Corporate entities like Infosys. She is also immensely proud of the fact that she is a mom of two dynamic ladies-in-the-making; Aakanksha and Illesha.
Kidskintha did an exclusive interview with Ms. Babita. Here are the snippets:
What was the inspiration behind your start-up? Is your start-up an answer to some challenge you came across yourself?
My childhood was spread over many places in India. I did a major part of my schooling in Aurangabad and then, Masters (Science) in Ooty. Fashion designing did not officially make its way into my life until after I was married. My husband played an integral part in my achieving my dreams. His constant support was all I needed to override everything I had heard so far about fashion designing not being for girls from decent educated families. It was then that I got a diploma in fashion technology. The day after my degree, I started designing formal western wear as a freelancer for an Australian firm. This was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, though I hadn’t known this back then. Soon, we were expecting our first child. I had to take a break from my activities for a while due to the intense physical activity it required.
The United States called us- and we had our second bundle of joy there. The country opened my eyes to new ideas and inspired me to learn new things. The people helped me realize that skin tone was not something be ashamed of. I got fascinated by skin and color consultation and decided to get a formal education in the subject. I learnt about clolors and their effects on people’s moods. I also got to work with people as individuals. Being a mere designer had never allowed me such liberties. Bangalore beckoned and I was back to where I belonged. I joined an entrepreneurship course from IIM-B because I had questions that had to be answered. This course helped me realize that I could combine my passions for designing, colors, and meeting new people, into one beautiful business. The first time I made a conscious decision to be an entrepreneur, though, was after my course at IIM-B. I put my ideas to paper then, and began sketching out the base of my very own company.
Please tell us a little about your ventures.
WSol- Wardrobe Solutions is all about transformations! It is a unique clothing line that blends Indian with the Western. We offer a comprehensive suite of fashion and image makeover solutions. We emphasize on customizing packages to individual style, preferences and life goals. We also offer Personal Shopping Solutions. I did not begin WSol directly after my brainstorming, as being a mother to my two daughters was also a priority. My younger one was merely three, and I felt compelled to spend my time with her. So, I gradually started accepting projects that I could complete from home. I began collaborating with different organizations or individuals and carrying out my sessions in their office space during the weekends. WSol still remained unofficial though. It became official after a year in Noida, where I met my to-be business partner, Amrutha John. We instantly connected. She is now the co-founder of WSol Fashion and Image Makeovers Private Limited, which was incorporated in Bangalore, 2012. Baja took shape gradually as people started appreciating the way I dressed, and my personal designs. Amrutha and I, decided to bring to the surface my old, trademarked brand, BAJA. It gradually picked up pace, and is now a small retail store in Indiranagar, Bangalore, with an e-commerce portal. Being a fashion designer is completely different from managing a startup. I was not only designing, but running, and promoting the company. There was no journey from fashion designing to management, they have had overlapping paths. Since Amrutha joined, I have had the all sales and promotional activities taken care of, but management and designing is still dependent on me. This has been a hectic, but interesting learning experience for me, and has led me through all the aspects of my company. I wouldn’t miss out on the experience for anything in the world.
How did you come to see this as your niche?
When I was a child, still in the ‘doll’ phase of life, I would spend most of my time stubbing my tiny fingers with needles to make dresses for my dolls. My dolls never stayed long in their store-bought dresses and I filled their wardrobes with my creations. It was not too different about how I dressed. Nothing ready-made would ever stay the same. I wouldn’t wear anything until it was modified by a painting, or a few snips and tuck- ins with my needle and scissors. My designs or modifications were usually impulsive and visualized. I began drawing in earnest, when I could whir my machine and make magic. I got a handle on fabric and patterns. It became a hobby and a passion, and soon, I only wore something after it had been customized for me, by myself. However like I said earlier, this passion was channelized only after my management course at IIM-B.
Image consulting is a very tough and niche area. Tell us a little about your foray into this area.
Color analysis in fashion determines the colors that best suit an individual based on their natural complexion.
Personal color analysis and skin tone color matching, is the process of determining colors of clothing and makeup to match your skin complexion, eye color, and hair color and is used to help with wardrobe planning and style consulting. And it is true for both men and women.
My five years in the United States, as a skin and color consultant, taught me how different colors and makeup work on people. After I began designing, I realized that colors play an important role in creating an aura, am image, a brand of you! People began asking me about the dresses and makeup I wear, so I felt that supplying just dresses was not enough. They needed to realize that a look was a lot of things working together, not just a dress, or just their makeup, it was a package. This inspired me to be an image consultant alongside my designing. S, now I offer my clients the whole package, with everything they need, to look and feel beautiful.
Do you see the Internet as your biggest online partner?
I definitely think the Internet has helped in propelling my business and putting it out there quickly. Our Online store has picked up and soon BAJA is going live on Amazon. Also, social media has helped draw attention to our unique clothing brand and helped us gain International recognition. Soon, there will be WSol sessions in Dubai. Our Image Make-Over Workshops are now active all over India- thanks to the Internet!
How are your ventures being funded? Are there any future plans of investments?
WSOL is a service venture for fashion and image makeovers and BAJA is a product venture for dresses and accessories . I started with the service part where I did not require any investment other than my time and efforts. Once that picked up, I started with getting the inventory and basic setup done for BAJA.
Where are your marketing efforts being incorporated currently? What do you see as necessary to take your business to the next level?
I leverage the power of Social Media. I write on my blog regularly. I promote via Facebook and YouTube. Word of mouth is another powerful tool that has worked for me so far.
You are also involved in a social initiative. Can you tell us more about that?
Our social initiative “Style me!! Empower me” is an initiative where we work with underprivileged youth making them employable, working with acid burn victims and cancer care patients. It has seen resounding success so far and it gives me immense satisfaction to see someone’s trust and confidence in themselves re-instated to take them to the next level. You can see how we transformed our store helper, Parvathi into a confident and fresh young woman here.
Can you tell us a little about how your work with a client unfolds?
When a client approaches me, my first step is to meet him or her in person. I make an effort to know how they grew up, how their days pan out, what their passions are and what they really want to change about themselves. A protocol I follow is to allow male clients to bring their wardrobes to me so I know what to work on. A female client is a different game- I prefer to go to their homes to check out their stoles, dupattas, churidars, sarees, skirts, tops, footwear, jewellery- the list is endless(* laughs*)
What does your typical day look like juggling between mom responsibilities and owning a business?
I am a totally paranoid mom. I don’t let my kids buy snacks/lunch outside.My day starts with cooking and packing my kids’ lunches and snacks. I try not to miss my everyday workout. On the days I miss my workout, I integrate exercise into my day by taking the Public transport and walking a few blocks. My typical work day includes reading, facing clients, conducting workshops, blogging, designing…
What challenges do you face on managing a growing business being a mom, which is never less than a full-time job.
It is quite challenging being a mom. The guilt monster raises its head from time to time. I keep telling myself that I am not in a race for being Supermom. I am just trying to accomplish my dreams and family is a part of that process . I make it a point to communicate with my kids very openly- they are always aware of what I am doing, just as they know that I am there for them when they need me. I also have them help me out. Asking for help from your family just makes it that much more meaningful and less stressful- both for yourself and for your family.
What is your personal mantra for motivation?
A lot of positive self talk and affirmations. Motivation is to just jump in do what you love to do.
What message do you have for other aspiring Momprenuers?
Being a mom is an achievement by itself. However, if you dream of doing something, then go for it . Kids look up to moms; so set an example so they can follow their dreams no matter what .
What has been your proudest moment so far?
I had applied for the ‘Young Fashion Entrepreneur Award’ by the British council. It is a worldwide competition and an ambitious step. I was just beginning to take root as a designer and found myself against some of the biggest names in the Indian fashion industry. My proudest moment was when I picked up my ringing phone to hear that I was one of India’s finalists in the competition! I travelled to Mumbai after that, to give my presentation on my business, and was proud of myself for making it to that stage, and finding myself talking about my passion to people who understood it fully, and had carved their own niches in the world of fashion.”