Kamini Saraf, Hyderabad’s very own Fashion entrepreneur

Her exhibition is the most-talked about fashion event in the city. Kamini Saraf opens up about Fashion Yatra, her future plans and her secret to success.

 1) Fashion Yatra that you bring every year is the most-talked about fashion event in the City. How much of work goes into it?

My business is running in an organised manner now but this was not the case seven years ago when I had started out. I didn’t know any of the upcoming designers and it took time to convince them to display their materials at Fashion Yatra. By 2008, I got a hang of it and branched out and introduced Fashion Yatra in Delhi and Ludhiana. This year too I will be organising exhibitions in other cities. In each city, I give a different look to Fashion Yatra. While exhibiting in Delhi and Ludhiana, I ensure that clothes are more blingy and less of cotton. While in Chennai, designers whom I select are those who exhibit more subdued clothes.

2)What inspired you to take up this line — event management as opposed to designing? And what was your subject of study ?

I have always been fashion-inclined since childhood. I learnt design for a while but I refused to take it up seriously as a career option because I feel that tailors in the city are not that good at their work and are extremely expensive. I was a commerce student and did not even learn business management. In 2003 and 2004, I helped out a few of my designer friends with their exhibition and before I knew it, I started to get more offers and in 2005 I started Fashion Yatra, when I realised I was good at it.

3) Apart from Fashion Yatra, you are also known for your philanthropic activities. Which NGOs are you tied up with?

I believe that if you help and support to the needy, you get back multifold. I believe in this principle and it has always worked like that for me. I mostly give aids for education of the girl child, to the Go Green foundation that work against global warming, Vijayalakshmi Breast Cancer foundation and Blue Cross. I also support People for Animals foundation when they took up the initiative to Save the Tiger. My only concern is that I do not get time to spend time with any of the organisations. Later on in life, I plan to take out time for this. I also started the business of art merchandise in which I used works of young artists. Even talented artists fade away if they do not get a break at the right time. Branding and advertising is necessary to promote artists in the right way. We target the corporate employees and designed merchandise including wall hangings, posters, table mats, pen stands and clocks. However, when it comes to new names, people are not very enthusiastic. Names like Vaikuntam help sell these items easily. But, I believe that this scenario will change slowly and people who like good art are bound to pick up young artists work too.

4)Do you have any tips to share with women who want to start their own businesses?

A lot of exhibitions have sprouted in the City. The same crowd and designers seem to be frequenting these exhibiting. It feels like 15 to 20 designers do not leave Hyderabad. In this scenario when the competition is very stiff, it is necessary to stand out from the rest. I tried to give a fresh and summery look to Fashion Yatra each year. There are 15 to 20 loyal designers who display their work every year but at the same time there are also designers whom I shuffle so that an exhibition doesn’t look the same each year. Another important aspect I keep in mind is that the clothes that are displayed are affordable. I do not want people to come to the event because they are obligated.

5) What is your advice for an upcoming designer?

We are associated with a fashion institute from where we take interns for the Fashion Yatra. They are assessed in terms of their managing and designing skills. Those who are selected will be given a platform to showcase their stuff. I think that fashion students should keep three things in mind while designing. Affordability, ensure that they are not replicas of the ones done by established designers and good finish. Most of times, clothes look good from the outside but when you turn it upside down there might be strings hanging because the tailors they approached are not good.

6) What is your fitness mantra?

I am always running out of time to hit the gym but I make sure that I think positive and this solves most of my health and emotional issues.