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    Meet a new wave of emerging entrepreneurs who are changing the way we view fashion in the city.While design is the heart of fashion, business is the driving force of its success or failure, and running one isn’t as easy as you think. Customising and trend-setting their way into our consciousness, this breed of young entrepreneurs are learning on the job and taking the fashion scene to a different level.

    Anaka Narayanan, 32, Brass Tacks

    Anaka-NaryananClean cuts, natural and hand woven fabrics is what Anaka Narayanan is known for. Inspired by her mother, Bamini Narayanan’s huge collection of hand woven saris, she set out to start her own company in 2006. Brass Tacks gives a lot of importance to the basics. “Mill-made and hand-woven fabrics of the top most quality are used and all fabrics are washed before tailoring to guarantee zero shrinkage,” says Narayanan. Her current collection, featuring indigo, mustard, purple, green and cherry-red, has been “inspired by women who work in challenging environments, often outside their comfort zone, without compromising on who they are and how they choose to work.’’ Narayanan wants each piece to be memorable. About her Chennai clientele, she says, ‘‘Women here choose what really works for their body type instead of following a trend blindly, and I have a lot of respect for that.” While issues like hiring, training and retaining staff continue to be a challenge, she says, “It’s important to invest time training your team to keep them motivated.” She is currently working on her online store and on opening a branch. Priced from Rs 1,000. Details: 42081767

    Ayesha Kapur, 19, Ayesha

    Ayesha-KapurTaking a cue from her mother’s entrepreneurial streak, Ayesha Kapur launched accessory label ‘Ayesha’ when she was 16. After various business expeditions across the world with her mother, Kapur knew it was time to begin work on her pet project. “I also realised that there wasn’t a single Indian accessory brand for the average Indian girl. When there were international players catering to the market, why not Indian?” she asks. Hers is a young, funky and fresh aesthetic. “Our hurdles initially lay in figuring out the balance between what the Indian customer wants and what trends we’d like to set,” she shares, adding, Products range from chunky bracelets and necklaces, to classy watches and vintage bags. “The Chennai market is experimenting and getting bolder. Our neon collection did amazingly well here,” she enthuses. Three years later, the brand has grown to embrace a wider age group as its clientele, with young mothers being a target group as well. “We retail out of Jabong and Myntra currently, and will soon be launching a men’s accessories brand ‘Unknown’ for 15-25 year olds,” concludes Kapur. Between Rs 198 and Rs 1,500.
    Details: 2833211

    Dipu Krishnamurthy, 35, Azure

    Dipu-KrishnamurthyWhile Dipu Krishnamurthy’s business acumen lay untapped in the early years, when she pursued an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, she eventually discovered this wasn’t for her. “I worked at Motorola for three years on finishing my degree, and I was just amazed to see how dedicated everyone was there. They had labs for everything and everyone looked like they loved what they were doing,” she enthuses, adding, “That’s when I realised I should do something I love.” Shortly after earning an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, US, she had a stint at Victoria’s Secret. It taught her invaluable lessons in consumer insights and retail climates, and she returned to India hoping to put them to practice with Azure. “The market I know either has clothing purely inspired from the west, or is strongly rooted in Indian aesthetics like say, embellished kurtas. I wanted to fuse western concepts of clean lines and focus on cuts with Indian silhouettes,” she shares. Her core clientele includes 20-80 year old women, and seeing as they bring their children to the store, there is a kid’s line as well. Currently dabbling in jewellery, Krishnamurthy takes small scale stores over big box models any day and loves the concept of building a name into a lifestyle brand. “I love the vision of an Azure life,” she says. In Nungambakkam. `590 onwards. Details: 28294044

    Divya, 29, Navya Niranjan, 32, Blueprint

    DivyaIf contemporary silhouettes in bold colours and prints is your thing, pay Blueprint a visit. It was started by sisters, Divya and Navya Niranjan, two years ago. While they have no training in fashion, just a common love of the industry and fabrics, they believe in luxury being affordable. “They add their blueprint to their clothes, with print-on-print and intricate embroidery, and their Autumn Winter 2013, line, The Mad Hatter, featured everything Madras – from the kaapi and bajji to iconic Rajnikanth dialogues in silks. Divya, an artist, made her foray into design after her bachelors in computer science at MOP Vaishnav College. While Navya’s style quotient includes basic tees paired with jeans, sewn cotton jackets and accessories, Divya loves creating fun prints and clean silhouettes. Clothes from 3,000 onwards
    Details: Blueprint Coleccion on Facebook , Phone: 9884068691

    Megha Mahtani, 28,MM

    MeghaDesigner Megha Mahtani has many reasons to celebrate with Indulge. This November, her eponymous label turns six and Megha’s little girl Sam, turns one.  Armed with a degree in visual communication, Mahtani realised her dream when she set up her workshop at the age of 22. Along with her prêt label of kurtas, kurtis, tops and dresses, she also specialises in bespoke bridal wear, curvy couture and clothes for children as small as five months old. “Not being able to find well-fitted clothes is a common complaint from people who require larger and smaller sizes,” she muses, sharing that her clients range from college-goers to homemakers, local models and even a couple of socialites! Over the last few years, Chennai women have become very conscious about their attire. And I love designing for them.” Her tips for the season? “Neon is very in. But don’t overdo it. Use it sparingly and team it with a single colour.”
    Details: 9884381861

    Marlena Ann, 22, and Marcia Ann, 25,  Ann’s Bridal collection

    MarlenaAnnEvery girl deserves a fairytale wedding, believe the sisters whose father PS Anthony owns the Evergreen Christmas Center. “We want women to look beyond the sari on their big day,” says Marlena Ann. A year since its inception, Ann’s Bridal Collection has wedding gowns, hair accessories and bridesmaids’ dresses. Observing a market for wedding gowns, Marlena and Marcia, commerce and engineering graduates, respectively, decided to step in. “While a few of our dresses and accessories are sourced from Malaysia and the US, the rest are custom-designed by us,” says Marlena. Prices range from Rs 9,000 to Rs 2 lakhs and they have added car decorations for customers and soon, services for outdoor bridal photoshoots. Details: 9884423638

    Lakshmi Pillai, 20, The Pink Label

    LakshmiA young fashion enthusiast with a knack for quirky prints, Lakshmi Pillai will soon be launching ‘The Pink Label’ at Kilpauk. “I find immense joy in making clothes for people and the reaction on their faces when they try them on,” says Pillai, who has a bachelors degree in Commerce. She personally fancies simple silhouettes, shoulder pads and everything from the 90s. Pillai hopes Chennai will get a little more experimental with their clothes. “I want them to know that showing a little skin can be classy if done the right way,” says the girl who wants to promote everything from peplums to tulle skirts, fringes and feathers. “I could do boho chic one day and go all Anna Dello Russo (Vogue’s creative consultant) the next day,” says Pillai, who dreams of working with big names like Elie Saab and Alber Elbaz in the future. Between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000. Details: 8939301543

     

    Divya Lakshmi, 23, Juno Marie

    DivyalakshmiWedding gowns may look expensive, but they’re turning out to be an affordable option for many Christian and Hindu brides. Cashing in on this thriving market is Juno Marie, a store which sources gowns from factories in China and Japan. “Though many women come in asking for a mermaid silhouette, our consultations make sure that every bride purchases a dress that suits their shape, in a colour that suits their skin tone. We go beyond the A-line, the mermaid and the ball gown,” explains the executive director of Juno Marie. The BA Travel and Tourism graduate, along with Y Saori, launched the store after she migrated from Japan. Customisation remains their strong point. “Even if a bride likes a dress from the waist above and another from the waist below, we can fuse both and put it together for her,” she says. Prices are from `24,000 onwards, with Facebook orders from Darjeeling, Shillong, Mumbai and Gujarat.
    Details: 64556166

     

    Mridulika Menon Madiraju, 35,

    Samasta
    ‘Urban chic for the global citizen’—Mridulika Menon Madiraju’s concept for brand Samasta isn’t new but the petite entrepreneur packs a punch with her ethically conscious mission. Madiraju watched her mother, Arundhati Menon, design saris at Shilpi for years. “She would work with weavers from all over India and we would accompany her to workshops for handblock printing. We were also encouraged to design our own clothes, albeit with her inputs,” she shares. Madiraju lacks formal

    training, but her aesthetics reflect her inherent sense of design. She started the label in 2009 after her daughter’s birth. Samasta designs include vibrant tunics, dresses, tops, salwars and stoles, all executed in handwoven cotton, custom screen-printed matka silk, tussar, crepe and georgette. “It is imperative to use these traditional fabrics even when creating contemporary wear as it gives the style new dimensions,” believes the Washington DC University alumnus. Samasta clients, like the label, are cosmopolitan and include the hoi-polloi, quirky civil rights advocates, world travellers and expats. Details: 42721110, samastaonline.com

    Anju Shankar, 26,

    Zari
    Designer, dancer and ‘lifelong learner,’ Anju Shankar brings that spark of excitement to Zari, an enterprise that began as a Facebook page. Dabbling in web and tattoo designing, Shankar found refuge in fashion soon enough with Zari. When she displayed her first 10 saris in 2012, Shankar and her friend Sujatha Kartic managed to get over 100,000 likes in a year. Her saris with contrasting borders have been picked up by customers across Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and internationally, besides Chennai. “We have customers flying down from different parts of the country to place orders for bridal wear,” she says, adding, “The online model is a safe opportunity for
    young entrepreneurs like me, who have limited resources.” You will find brocade saris inspired by Persian and Pakistani styles, with generous splashes of gold and zardozi. Priced from Rs4,000 onwards. Details: facebook.com/zari.anju

    Bandana Narula, 27, Dhanya Ramanathan, 25,

    Studio Saanvi
    Two fashion crazy girls and a dream. The young designers behind the 18-monthold Studio Saanvi in Alwarpet are Bandana Narula and Dhanya Ramanathan. Armed with degrees in fashion merchandising and design and a passion for fashion, the two christened their venture Saanvi. They specialise in bespoke design for weddings. “We will
    customise your entire trousseau and ensure the theme and colours of the wedding are reflected in your clothes,” says Dhanya Ramanathan. While Bandana honed her skills at Amrita Design Place, for Dhanya, it was brand ‘Derby.’ They make indo-western outfits, saris, anarkalis and lehengas. Details: 9791143222 / 9841697382

    Jewels oDivya N, 28f Sayuri:

    Divya N started Sayuri to create clothing and accessories for women. She then discovered a passion for jewellery and started her blog Jewels of Sayuri in 2010. With information on designs, metals, gemstones and segments like DIY columns, jewellery care and more, it clocks 18,000 to 20,000 visitors a month. “I want to be recognised as a jewellery artist who designs and creates each piece herself, and my blog is instrumental in conveying this,” says Divya, who also teaches design at NIFT, INIFT and NID, and has an audience in the US, Russia and Australia as well. Besides the blog, her Facebook page brings in 80 per cent of her business. “Hailing from a non business, non design background, it has taken me a lot of time and mistakes to understand the nuances of running a design business,” she says, adding that she hopes to set up a place where designers “can come together to teach and learn.” Between Rs400 and Rs4,000. Details: 9677025255

    – Shibi Kumaramangalam, Divya Karthikeyan, Noopur Kalra

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