Babita Jaishankar- CEO With A Style
“My father had a job that required him to move around a lot. I cannot say that I grew up specifically in a single place, my life was scattered, based in many different places. I did a major part of my schooling in Aurangabad, till my graduation, and 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. Months later, I got the surprise of my life when I got to know that I was expecting my first child. I had to take a break from my activities for a while due to the intense physical activity it required.
I spent a while in the United States, after the birth of my first daughter, and my second was born there. Daughters – Akanksha is 14 and Illesha is 11. The place made me aware of new ideas, and inspired me to learn new things. The people helped me realize that skin tone was not something to hide or be ashamed of. US was where I did my skin and color consultation and certification, this gave me ideas about how effective colors were on people and their moods. I also got to work with people as individuals. Being a mere designer had never allowed me such liberties. Bangalore was home though, and the birthplace of my very own company. It isn’t where I am from, but it’s where I belong. 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.”
When did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
“I had always been an entrepreneur, since the beginning of my ventures. I hadn’t realized it before, but that’s all I’d ever been. It was never my ‘thing’ to work for somebody else, my dreams and aspirations were my own, so that left me with only one choice. 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. The course inspired me to go on with my ideas, and take them further than just a few words or calculations on paper. Chasing my dreams had been just a hobby up till then, but after I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, it became my full time job.”
When did you start your two ventures, WSol and Baja?
“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, as we both were moms, but with strong desires and dreams to be ‘someone’. 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. We, 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.”
From fashion designer to management, how has the journey been?
“Being a fashion designer is completely different from managing a startup. Nevertheless, I had to do both, as I was faced with no other choice. Initially, I was running around for everything, every little aspect of my business. 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.”
“When I was a child, still in the ‘doll- phase of life’ I would spend most of my time stubbing my tiny fingers with the needles that I used to make dresses for my dolls. My dolls never stayed long in their store bought dresses and I filled their wardrobes with my creations. I was not too different about how I dressed. Nothing store bought 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, but I began drawing in earnest when I started learning machine stitching. I got ideas on patterns, and on how much fabric was needed for certain dresses, and began stitching for myself. It became a hobby and a passion, and soon, I only wore something after it had been customized for me, by myself.”
How did you come to be an image consultant?
“I was a skin and color consultant in US, for five years, and this gave me new ideas about how different colors and makeup work on people. After I began designing, I realized that colors were a very important aspect in people’s dressing. People began asking me about the dresses and makeup I wear, so I felt that supplying people with 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, and offer my clients the whole package, with everything they need, to look and feel beautiful.”
What is skin and color analysis?
Color analysis in fashion determines the colors that best suit an individual based on their natural colorings.
Personal color analysis, or skin tone color matching, is the 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 Men or Women.
Tell us one transformation story that you are very proud of.
“People generally assume that image makeovers are glamorous, and only needed by those facing a camera. I continue to protest against this common prejudice, and say that it is for all those people who do not think enough of themselves, and want to raise their self-esteem. A transformation that I’m particularly proud of was a postpartum makeover for a young, beautiful woman, who came to me with much insecurity about herself and her looks, about her capabilities as a mother, among many other things. For her, dressing and makeup was a minor part of her makeover, as she needed more help with just being confident in her own skin. So for her, it was much more of a lifestyle change, and a fitness regime… a routine for her to follow, and positive affirmations that would make her realize that she was much more than who she was giving herself credit for. She came to me as a person undergoing depression, who thought that just dressing would change everything, and I’m proud to say that she walked out a happy, confident person. She continues to update me about her lifestyle, and I am satisfied to have made such a change in her life.”
What has otherwise been your proudest or happiest moment?
“I had applied for the ‘Young Fashion Entrepreneur Award’ by the British council. It is a worldwide competition, and it was an ambitious step, because 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.”
What are few of Recent accolades?
BAJA going online, BAJA having a brick mortar presence in Bangalore, BAJA‘s presence in one of the niche store in Dubai. Our image makeover workshops happening all over India. Our social initiative “Style me!! Empower me “took shape – working with underprivileged youth making them employable, working with acid burn victims and cancer care patients.