I met her during one of the International Hospitality Summits. In the evening there was a fashion show on hotel uniforms, I was looking forward to it as the industry though using uniforms was in nascent stages with not much happening as far as the design aspects were concerned. But in the recent years hotels have started working on their uniforms. Infact at The Park Hotels the uniforms were always a part of the ’boutique culture’ established by them and the uniforms were designed by the top designers in the country. With that background you can understand my inquisitiveness for the show. There were many designers participating in the event but one particular designer’s work attracted my attention, I found her creations to be unique- something that stood out. We spoke post the event and have kept in touch. I also discovered that she is not only a talented designer and a thorough professional but also a great human being – as people would like to call! Finally I managed to do an interview with the inspirational Ms. Kavita Bhatnagar, CEO and Managing Director of Vishal Enterprise. I had a rally of questions which she graciously answered.
IWH: Tell us something about you, your growing up years, life through school, college etc.
Ms. Bhatnagar: After finishing my Graduation and Post Graduation in English Literature, I did an MBA (Business Management) in Marketing.Having a natural instinct for an apparel design from childhood, I did a Diploma in Advance Fashion Designing from Mumbai University with an advance course in AUTOCAD Designing and got selected by M/s CREATIVE GARMENTS through campus interview for a Merchandiser role.
I have started my professional journey from trainee Merchandiser to Sr. Merchandising Manager and Merchandising Marketing Manager. My finest skills and experiences have led me to work for several industries internationally well-known MNCs like Export Syndicate, Donear Industries Limited, Mumbai, Kalyani Exporters etc.
IWH: What made you select a career apparel designing? Was it easy making that decision?
Ms. Bhatnagar: I recall “Navratri” being one of the favourite festivals for me since childhood as I could invoke creative side of my personality and wear self-designed outfits. Having earned several accolades throughout community cultural programs for my best apparel design I realized a natural inclination and a talent of apparel design I was blessed with. Many of my friends and people in the locality used to buzz me to making uniquely designed Navratri costumes for them. I enjoyed doing it at that time.
During my college days, I used to organize annual fashion shows for students and used to help designing apparels. I was very much interested to get in to the fashion apparel industry, so I decided to get in to the fashion designing but trust me it was not at all easy decision. With my passion, dedication and support I accepted the challenge and finally secured 2nd rank in college. I was picked by very big internationally known export house M/s. Creative Garments through campus interview and that was a blessing for me.
It offered me a chance to learn how fashion export houses works in to the international market with big brands; and made me capable to dive deeper professionally/ independently in the world of the apparel Industry I am currently in.
IWH: What is your current role? Tell us something about your company/ organisation.
Ms. Bhatnagar: Back in August 2008, I conceptualised and established the M/s Vishal Enterprise using the most prominent experiences I have gathered over years of my service in the apparel industries. I am currently acting as a CEO/Managing Director of M/s Vishal Enterprise. We are a company of huge floor team of masters of apparel and subordinates – achieved a solid reputation and a successful track record within short span of time.
Reaching to the milestone of 10 year completion, I am proud to tell that we have become one of the fastest growing companies having the best team of talented, seasoned and dedicated Industry professionals; and tied up with the best known state-of-the-art manufacturing units all over India.
Our consistent approach and excellence is to offer a superb variety of customised, durable, stylish (in some cases, even high fashion) comfort-wear to a large array of our Indian and international clientele. The impeccable and captivating range of our highly admired/established clothing lines are efficiently designed with thoughtful processes and extremely proficient/focused approach to meet needs of end-users. The dexterous teams we possess work in close synchronisation and maintain high standards of product performance including a design and a delivery in accordance with our customer’s stipulations.
Through dedicated efforts with a primary and pin-pointing approach to the client satisfaction, we have scaled new heights in the apparel and hospitality industry. Our carefully planned efforts for complete customer satisfaction have made us a well-applauded entity in the fashion industry. We are serving in an optimum manner, to the various top notch fashion conscious clients & hotel industry both in the national and international domain.
IWH: How has your professional journey been so far? Pros, cons etc?
Ms. Bhatnagar: As the hospitality industry has been traditionally valuable as a high class in itself , one due to the culture and nature of the industry, I must say it was really not a smooth professional journey for me, but yes it has been very rewarding yet challenging, where I learnt a lot out of it. During entire professional journey so far I have met many different people with different mindsets. The most challenging task has been to bring all of the decision makers at the client site in alignment so I can cater the best suited apparel; meeting their needs and keeping end users comfort in mind.
IWH: Who has been your mentor or a role model? In what way has that person helped you?
Ms. Bhatnagar: In this case I am been very lucky who is blessed with a Mentor and a Role Model in my life.
A Mentor is typically a guide, a person when you have any questions or doubts, he is a person who looks at your progress and gives you suggestions. Clearly, this person has the best interests in his/her heart. I would proudly say that my beloved Dad has been my Mentor, who helped me to take any challenges in my life and fight for the survivals without compromising the established values of my life. He has made me a strong women. Although he is no longer physically present in this world, his inspirational quotes and teachings have been guiding me still whenever I am in dilemma. I still remember and follow his guiding principles:
(1) Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up and stronger than before;
(2) Success is not a miracle, not is it a total matter of luck. Everything happens for a reason and happens for good. Keep moving forward with a positive Go-Getter mindset; and
(3) No matter how high up you get, never forget where you came from. It’s essential to remain humble, compassionate and evolving.
A Role Model is someone you look up to. Someone you try to emulate. The role model might not necessarily know you. In fact, it could well be that you have never personally seen the role model anywhere. In my case I have been lucky to have my Role model who is none other than my God sent brother who supported me a lot when I needed the most right support. He fit into my often misjudged, definition of a “perfect person”. I listen to him, I Interact with him and it has a profound effect in my life. He has played an important role in moulding my character, my views and my perspectives. Both Mentors and Role Models are Equally Necessary for me.
IWH: What have been the high points of your career? Highlight at least 3.
Ms. Bhatnagar: One of the high points of my career was when I started taking care of huge productions of international top brands like Walmart, J. C. Penny, Marks & Spencer, Nautica, S.Olive etc. successfully for USA, Europe, China & Italy’s market.
The heady mixture of my vision &vast experience helped me to handling/ conceptualising and developing Clients/Buyers from National & International Market as well delivered the Creative Designs & finished samples, sourcing of new fabrics for customers too. I was accountable for the product life cycle because of my experience to look after the entire production. With a world-class knowledge of fabric and trim sourcing as well job workers from Mumbai and Bangalore in different jobs, I delivered the very best that I could.
Taking Vishal Enterprise from conceptualisation to a multi million rupee company in ten years of time span with a solid growth; and earning customer’s absolute trust/recognition for a quality, integrity, affordability, innovative and timely delivery of durable comfort apparel has been the highest point of my career.Additionally, there have been pride worthy moments when following recognitions came through for my contribution to the hospitality industry:
International HK Summit Clean India Award
Fashion Collages Best Judge
IWH: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How did you deal with them?
Ms. Bhatnagar: In a country where women constitute around 48% of the total population, they are encouraged to step out of their homes and lead a successful professional life just like their male counterparts. Things have changed a lot, we have many professions, where dominated by women and they are also leaving their marks in many fields, which were earlier ruled by men.
During my Jobs I dealt with too many decision makers and everyone has their own opinion between that proving your worth. Overcoming that stereotype attitude has been a challenge in the profession but being a woman I just have to present what I think is right for overall customer business. I guess with my diplomacy, in-depth experience and ability to make the best decisions keeping customer/end user in mind, I have been able to unify all stake holders at customer side to look at the same direction. That has allowed me to excel my output yielding best satisfaction of my clientele.
IWH: If there was anything that you could change about your life or career what would that be?
Ms. Bhatnagar: I have been very serious, dedicated and passionate about my work with a focused mindset of achieving customer satisfaction by walking the extra mile. That has many times led me beyond a healthy lifestyle, i.e. working late nights, mediocre diet and at times with insufficient sleep & exercise. One thing that I am working on is to live a more balanced life.
I can’t think of any alternate career as my current role has been my passion and even if I win million dollar lottery still I would continue working the same as it gets the best of my creativity out in service of hospitality industry. But still if I have to answer then as an alternate Career path, if not a Fashion Designer in Hospitality Industry, I would like to get in to the teaching fashion designing in college, where I can get the chance to create best designers.
IWH: What do you think of IWH?
Ms. Bhatnagar: IWH is a great forum for professional women with its perfect vision of inspiring and empowering them. IWH provides a platform where we learn from others experiences and build a strong encouragement. It is an excellent initiative that IWH made a unified platform for women across the hospitality industry. It is proud to be a part of this fascinating society which has been conceptualised by professional women with unique flair and personality. I am honoured to be a part of it.
IWH: Your advice to the young professionals and students.
Ms. Bhatnagar: I would like to say the same what Mrs. Annie Henderson (Grandmother of singer Maya Angelou) said: “If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to you place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a new path.”
IWH: Anything else you wish to share with our readers?
Ms. Bhatnagar: Yes I do. Time anticipates changing consumer’s taste but in the fashion industry requirement of designs are always influenced by the cultural and social latitudes and has varied over time and places.
An inspirational and creative source is very necessary for making a fashion house flourish amongst the cut-throat rivalry in the global fashion markets. The Process of creative designs come through many alphabets from mind. We have to find out the required meaning and make them a sentence. Conceptualize rough sketches, selection of fabric, visualize the demand, study the personality, who demanded and required colour scheme, fabric cutting and stitching, finishing values addition, sample of designs and deliver it to corporate clients is most important. We at VISHAL ENTERPRISE are striving to make a mark in Fashion Industry with our innovative thoughts and creative ideas. Leaving no stone un turned in order to achieve a well-deserved success in our domain.
It was such a pleasure meeting her and hearing of the things that she values – the insights of her work and professional life that she happily shared with us. Her story will motivate others to follow their passions and see their dreams transforming into realities.