Mumbai-based Shalini Girish’s interest of becoming an entrepreneur triggered after one of her cousins gave her the idea of an online store selling fashion accessories. Being a fashion enthusiast herself, Shalini found the idea to be a good one. Soon she transformed that idea into a reality and started her own online store LaElegante’ on March 08, 2014. Ever since, she never looked back.
Shalini Girish holds an MBA in Finance degree. She also worked in a reputed bank for a couple of years. Everything although looked quite settled, Shalini, however, was missing something in her corporate life. A few years back, she decided to take a break from her banking career. She always had the wish to start something on her own. With LaElegante’ that wish came true.
Today, Shalini Girish, the founder of LaElegante’ joins us in this interview session to share her story.
Hi Shalini, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. Please tell us a few lines about yourself.
Hi, I am Shalini Girish. I am a self-motivated, over ambitious, zealous, go getter, dreamer, but yet a sentimental person. I love travelling and music is something which fulfills me.
You have an MBA in Finance degree and you also worked for a couple of years in a reputed bank. What prompted you to leave a well settled corporate career and become an entrepreneur?
I took a break from my corporate life but never got around to going back to that. The break transformed into a permanent goodbye. Although initially days were fun and filled with travel and friends, the itch to do something was too strong to ignore. Fashion, especially accessories have always been a weakness and a strength as well for me. It was but natural to get into something on those lines. Fashion blogging was something I explored for a while, but yet there was something missing. At around that time a dear cousin put in the idea of starting an online store to sell fashion accessories.
The idea was good, and I decided to explore it. The perfect opportunity came when my sister was about to get married and I took over arranging her entire bridal trousseau. It was a hit and that sealed the deal. I had passed my litmus test. I got the impetus that I needed to get this rolling. And as they say, rest is history!
Tell us about LaElegante’. Do you have your own designers or do you procure your products from the manufacturers?
LaElegante’ is my baby. Every single aspect of this store is my brainchild and handled solely by me. Be it curating and procuring the product, stock checking, coding, photographing them, accounting, PR and marketing, social presence control, order processing and fulfilment, logistics handling, after sales and last but not at all the least Taxation and accounts reconciliation. Every single product is carefully curated from across the country.
I am not tied up with any designer currently. But, I do have plans to design my own line of accessories shortly.
Shalini, how do go about deciding on the designs?
That is a continuous process. It starts with keeping up with the current market trends that involve reading up and reading up a lot! Then it’s all about finding the perfect accessories supplied by the manufacturers across the country.
We know creativity and commerce play an integral part towards making a business successful. How do you manage these aspects of your business?
At LaElegante’, fashion is affordable to everyone.
The USP of LaElegante’ is its very reasonable pricing. I believe in making affordable fashion accessories a reality for the women of today. That is what I strive to do and believe have been able to do so. My business model is quantity based. I make my profits on quantity selling rather than from a single piece, which in turn singly contributes to keeping per unit cost at bare minimum profit margins.
What has been the most satisfying moment for you as an entrepreneur?
Realizing that my products complete a woman is very satisfying. The endorsement from a customer completes my day and tells me that I am on the right path. There are the funny moments as well, like the time when a client wrote in to say booking my products was like getting tatkal tickets!
Another time bumped into a friend who introduced me to her companion. We got talking and I mentioned that I run an online store. She spoke about how online stores are a dime a dozen these days and how she shops from this one store called LaElegante’, which she trusts and follows blindly, without realizing I own it. To say that I was on cloud nine would be an understatement!
Who inspires you the most in your journey?
My Mom is my biggest inspiration. However, I do find inspiration around me. From my maid with her tremendous amounts of energy to every single woman who successfully juggles her home and career is an inspiration.
Shalini, narrate some of your success stories.
Every single order when delivered and leaves behind a happy client is a success story in itself.
What are the present challenges that you are facing at present? In what ways are you planning to overcome them?
Many a days, I am left replying to over thousands of mails/messages. Half of them will be on product availability and I try to assuage clients of why they never got the product in spite of messaging me within minutes of launch. It so happens that I get orders across Email, FB messenger and my page inbox. Most of the products being designer pieces, it’s not possible to cater to every order considering there will be a limited quantity of the said products. I am fighting to take away the perception of bias. I strictly go by first in first out basis although priority is given to clients who maintain credit balance with us.
Hopefully, with the launch of my website, this should be tackled! Fingers crossed.
The next challenge is photography. I am at best an amateur photographer, despite some crash courses from dear friends, it’s a huge ocean. To learn the nuances of it is nothing less than a huge challenge!
Another major hurdle is my accounting and taxation. Although my MBA in finance degree helps me out, it’s a challenge to take out time to reconcile my financial statements and to make sure they are all updated and paid on time to the government.
What are your future plans for scaling up the growth of LaElegante’?
Future plans include the launching of my website as early as possible. I also have a long term dream to get my own designs manufactured and make LaElegante’ a reputed label.
If you have the option to fix a failure of yours, what will you do?
I have learnt 80 percent of the nuances of a business through hands-on experience by running LaElegante’. However, if given an option to go back and fix a previous failure, that would be to have launched LaElegante’ as a website and not as a Facebook Page.
Also, I would love to have learn typing! Replying to each mail is a struggle without knowing how to type.
Anything else you want to share…
Women never have it easy. It’s always a constant struggle to keep the cards from toppling; one falls, and they all come tumbling down. We are bogged down by our varied duties, that of a daughter, wife, and daughter in law, mother, and career. The trick is to keep smiling, and never stop juggling.
It’s very difficult to follow one’s passion, now that I have found mine here’s hoping I never have to give it all up!
And, one last question of this session Shalini, if you have had one wish…
I will just pack my bags and go on a backpacking trip across the world. That is the adventurer in me speaking! Realistically there isn’t anything I wish for now. My greatest wish has already come true! LaElegante’ is a reality!