"Hello, I am Smriti Sharma and I own a boutique in Sahara Mall, Gurgaon. I am writing this post out of cluelessness and frustration from the uncertainty during the COVID pandemic.
I am a fashion designer and I focus majorly on weddings and occasionally traditional and contemporary attire. I completed my degree from the London College of Fashion in the year 2014. I was amongst the top five best performing students and when I decided to come back to India and start my own label, I had big dreams in my eyes.
All my life I've seen my father work hard and save even harder to make money and send me to the best of schools and colleges. After my graduation it was my time to pay off his efforts and just a couple of years back, in 2016, I started my boutique, Smriti’s. I got a loan for the same against a guarantee of our paternal house, and after putting in lots of hard work, after 3-4 years I had just about started to make a name for myself.
Smriti’s is like my baby--I brought it in the world, nurtured it, and was involved in each and every aspect of it...right from the colour of the walls, to placement of the mirrors. I single-handedly did all the window displays of the garments since I felt that it was a crucial element of my business. I had invested in a formal photoshoot with a page 3 celebrity in Delhi, got a famous photographer, invested lakhs in off-location shoots...everything. Each page of the brochure, and each line of every ad that has ever been published, I have written the copy myself.
For me, my customers are akin to family...I spend hours discussing a bride’s trousseau and sometimes re-do garments or designs if they are not satisfied. I go to the extreme lengths of involving my customer’s in each stage of the garment’s construction--once the fabric has been dyed, I do a video call to check if the customer likes it, send her samples of the embroidery and so on.
My karigars are also like my extended family..I sponsored the education of some of their children out of store’s profits to ensure they are not struggling with any issues...I have put all my sweat and blood into my boutique.
I had so many orders and customisations for the year 2020 and it seemed that there would be no looking back henceforth, but COVID changed everything. People’s wedding plans got cancelled or simplified, small get togethers and parties were cancelled too...and now many of my customers have either backed out of their commitments or postponed their orders. I had to return their payments too and in some cases it was a loss for me since some part of the design had already processed. According to my calculations, I would've been able to make 40% profit this time around, but now I am just losing my customers and I just see my business going into debt. The government orders to open up the markets but not the malls is going to put me out of business since people are bound to go to boutiques in stand alone markets as a replacement for places such as mine that are located in a mall. Moreover, I am still paying rental for my boutique with no business--all us shop owners are having a dispute with the mall management and the situation is very sticky and unpredictable.
Apart from that, I cannot let my I karigars suffer and I have been paying them the same amount I was earlier. The bills and the salaries while managing the household expenses is on the verge of making me bankrupt. All my efforts are just going down the drain right now. I don’t mean to cry but I am passionate about my work and I put all my heart and soul while designing and working on a piece of garment.
I haven’t married for so long because I didn’t want anything to distract me from success during my first venture. If you all have read so far then I would plead you to see my catalogue and previous designs and the success stories in the next post. Do let me know how you like them and I hope you get back to me for your new attires.
I also have the contact information on the page, please get in touch. We need your help!