Left: Tanvi & Co. | Above: Shyamalee Thevar | Below: Baraati Inc.
When I was at the nascent stage of my career, I considered quite a number of professional paths, mostly which stipulated having a creative mind and odd working hours. Now creative people know that we don’t work by the clock. Half of our lives revolve around having a new idea every second and in the remaining, we work our heart and soul in bringing that idea to life. But little did this naive (me) know that we live in a society where returning home before dusk and not hanging out with boys was more important than giving your dreams the wings to fly. Being women, we’re always told to do things, we are cocooned by the restrictions forced upon us by either families or the society but little did anybody thinks that we’re born individuals. And ironically while human rights are our janam sidh adhikar, we were never privileged enough with that. Seeing women empowered and fierce for what they desire is an everyday inspiration to get up and conquer the world.
We’re absolutely tired of listening to baseless dialogues like, “Women don’t stay out till late.”, “Women are supposed to get married and have a family.”, ”Best occupation for a woman is to become a teacher.”, “Running a business is not a woman’s cup of tea.” And this would have gone on and on until we decided to woman up and roar, “WOMEN ARE WHATEVER THEY DECIDE TO BE.”
This is sure an unending topic of debate but what matters today is, women are finding their calling and running after their dreams with an intention to never stop.
Breaking the stereotypes and changing the definition of entrepreneurship, it’s my privilege to have known & be friends with these beautiful & leading ladies in the wedding biz for the work they do and wonders they create. Featuring in this blog the challenges & success stories of renowned female wedding planners and decorators namely, Swati, Shikha & Shweta from Baraati Inc., Tanvi Puri of Tanvi & Co. & Shyamalee Thaveer.
Women's Day Special: Leading Female Wedding Designers & their Success Stories
1. Shikha, Swati & Shweta from Baraati Inc.
They live on the motto "Eat, Sleep, Naach Baraati" and are on the radar to turn the slow pace of evolution of the Indian wedding industry into a fast-paced revolution. They are here to break the rules while making up some of our own along the way and make sure that every wedding is an affair full of life, zest and fun. Fierce & fearless, aren't they? Well, after all, they are 3 vigorous women in action! Let's hear them rewind their journey:
“You’re young, do you know what you’re doing?”
“Are late night events even safe for you?”
“Do your parents allow this?”
I could go on and on… But assumptions to this effect are often made by prospective clients.
When it comes to F&B management, we women always tend to get overlooked. The clients assume that the ‘men of the team’ will take care of it – what do women know about alcohol, right? We’ve also had the older generation males question our ability to manage budgets and understand numbers. It’s these moments of casual sexism that are all too common.
Other than that, our physical energy and our threshold for on-site activities are often indirectly challenged. Honestly, I’d be lying if I said that I was immune to it all. But what I have learnt over the years is to unapologetically express my opinion - “I can tell you all about effective bar management”, and stand my ground. Too bad for naysayers
THEIR SUCCESS STORY:
"Back in early 2014, wedding planning started as a side job for my college friend-turned-partner Swati & I. We did it out of love and an almost childlike fascination with the world of weddings. Cut to later that year, the word was spreading, and our duo (we hadn’t realized we’d need an official name) was juggling more calls, contracts & ceremonies than we’d ever hoped. Save the date: 8 January 2015 - Baraati Inc. came to life! Later that year, our friend Shikha joined the madness and we finally felt whole.
It’s been 4 years now. Our team has grown steadily – we’ve put our heart and soul into more than 50 weddings across the globe!
Without a doubt, we’ve come a long way. But if you ask us, it still feels like our honeymoon period with weddings! And knowing us - it always will."
Getting Married? Book Trusted Vendors
2. Tanvi Puri of Tanvi & Co.
I was flattered when I stumbled upon Tanvi's Instagram page for the first time. Her wedding projects are phenomenal and have always had that element of magnanimity in them. She plays with the commonest of things like crystals, lights and flowers in the most unique way possible and they're sure to give the right kind of whimsies. Let's know about her challenges and how she's now a successful entrepreneur:
"I’m based out of a small city and initially, my career choice wasn’t welcomed by everyone. A lot of people looked down on me being out at work late or even at the nature of my work for being an economics graduate. People still call a creative woman’s profession a ‘hobby’. Several times, I was not taken seriously for being a young woman in the industry. Sitting in a meeting, the same ideas were noticed more when they came from a male figure with higher authority. But as they say, give your 100 per cent and let your work make the noise. Today, my hometown is my biggest support system and I feel valued and appreciated at every meeting I attend!
‘Wedding designer’ was not exactly a profession you would think of or study for in school! As a young girl, I was always keen on shaping my career as an investment banker. After completing my graduation in Economics from University College London, I started on with some desk jobs only to realise it wasn’t truly my calling.
HER SUCCESS STORY:
3 years ago, a coffee table conversation triggered my journey of design and decor. Within a short while, I felt like I’ve found my passion and there has been no looking back ever since. I started off doing some very basic setups for friends and family. In a few months, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a leading decorator, which changed everything. Started spending 7 days a week on the job and a lot of late nights. I enjoyed every bit of my work, it took over my life and became my number one priority. The recognition came faster than expected, workload increased but I was thrilled and on track to make my dreams come true! Every single event was and still is a learning experience. The best reward is the joy of happy clients!
For me, Tanvi & Co. is not only about following your dreams but also about realising them. About keeping an open mind towards all career options and exploring your true potential when your passion becomes your career. Even when you’re doing what you love, finding success won’t be an easy path. So most importantly, to never give up on your dreams especially once you realise them.
2. Shyamalee Thaver
Experimental, edgy & playful is what defines Shyamalee's work. Working with bold prints, graphics and play of colours for the decor of a wedding is very unusual but they're absolutely striking. Read on, as she tells us her journey of success amidst all challenges:
"You have to learn to deal with everyone right from the client to whom you have to sell the idea, to the onsite labour team that has to execute the idea, each having a definite mindset of their own. Also, the general perception is that we are not technically sound enough to produce a concept design or figure out how many lights are required for a particular event, which we have constantly debunk as a myth.
As women, we have our own superpowers! So I've learnt to fight them, cajole them and stand up to them. Once it's established that you know it better and that you're not a pushover you can get what you want.
HER SUCCESS STORY:
This brand started officially almost 2 years ago. Personally, I have been a part of this industry for over 13 years. I started out as a freelance designer for various wedding and event planners before finally taking the plunge. There then came a point wherein I felt that my style of designing and end product needs to have its own identity. Besides that, the most important factor towards this decision was the constant feeling to start a brand/company that would provide a personalised quality experience not only in terms of decor but also other aspects like hospitality, invite design, entertainment, light and sound design etc. Each of these services can be designed and customised keeping the client budget into consideration.
We have been fortunate enough to have some amazing clients that have given us the opportunity and much more to achieve this.
For us, our first big break came when we successfully pulled off a lavish wedding in Hyderabad in just a week. We were involved in just the design bit of the wedding from 1 month but the client at the last moment asked us to come on-board as a full-on wedding planning team. The wedding was a huge success & at the end of it when the client came to me, held my hand and said that you worked as if it was a family event for you and not as a wedding planner. That was the biggest compliment we could have asked for and we've never looked back since.