What was your dream career in your childhood days?
A. I grew up in Kolkata and studied at the Modern High School for girls up to high school and then went on to do my BS (Economics Honours) from St. Xavier’s College, and have also studied at Northwestern University (USA) and at the Art Institute of Chicago. I always wanted to pursue Art and Design from a very young age.

You were one of the pioneers in the field of fashion in Bangalore. How did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
A. In the late 80’s there was really no place in Bangalore to buy fashion. Everyone was travelling out of the city for their shopping. I noticed this gap and combined with my passion for art and design, decided to open ffolio.

What have been some of the biggest highpoints of your journey so far?
A. Seeing young designers who I have promoted reach the pinnacles of success, getting written about in Harvard Business Review, being invited on the Jury of Femina Miss India, as well as being on the advisory panel of NIFT Bangalore in its early days. I was also the Chairperson of the Bangalore Chapter of FICCI Ladies Organisation.

Were there any kind of apprehensions entering the field of fashion in those early days?
A. I took a leap of faith in that Bangalore would need the kind of store and merchandise that I sourced. It was a completely unstructured environment and sourcing and scheduling within timelines was a big challenge.

What is your vision and dream in this field that you have made a mark for yourself in?
A. I hope that India will shortly boast of internationally reputed brands in the fields of art, craft and design.

Who have been some of the celebrities that you have worked with closely?
A. There have been so many. To name a few: Dimple Kapadia, Rahul Dravid, Vani Ganapathy, Rohit Bal, Rohit Khosla, Raveena Tandon, Kamal Siddu, Bipasha Basu, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Anushka Sharma, Shivamani, Milind Soman, Arjun Rampal, Mehr Jessia, Farah Khan and many more. Almost all the icons from large business houses have been our customers during the last 32 years.

Any recent trends in fashion you have noticed?
A. The most recent and enduring trend is “sustainability” across all aspects – from the yarn stage to the fully constructed garment. Recycling of older garments, waste management etc. This is making the move to a cleaner and healthier planet.

As a woman achiever, how do you think you have done your bit to support other women around you?
A. I have encouraged young and budding talent and several top designers today have started their career with ffolio, including the likes of Anamika Khanna. I also encourage talented designers with financial assistance. “Back to work” after a career break is also something that I always encourage. Over the years I have recognized and promoted women weavers and those involved in several different types of crafts and materials, e.g., embroidery, terracotta, papier-mâché, bamboo, brass etc.

Also, how do you think every woman can empower herself and others around her?
A. The only way to do this is to believe in oneself and grab opportunities with both hands.

What are your future plans?
A. I will continue to encourage new and upcoming talent.

– By Namita Gupta.