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Fashion brand icons: Veena Ashiya of Monrow Shoes

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IndiaRetailing brings you a series in which we highlight the brand icons in India’s thriving fashion and lifestyle industry. Today, the spotlight is on Veena Ashiya

Bengaluru: No business can survive for long without a vision; even if it does, it would be susceptible to every disruption and upheaval that generally comes in its business cycle. It needs a leader who has the capacity to translate, create that vision, or make it clearer and turn it into reality. The very essence of leadership is having a vision in the first place. Moreover, as you can’t blow an uncertain trumpet, it should be clearly articulated so that they can manage and lead people. A team led by a visionary leader with a clear direction knows what it can achieve and how far it can go.

In this special feature, IndiaRetailing highlights the brand icons in India’s thriving fashion and lifestyle industry. Today, the spotlight is on…

Veena Ashiya

Founder and chief executive officer, Monrow Shoes

Education

National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT)

Career history and experience

Since childhood, I always aspired to become ‘a Business Woman’. To support and nurture my robust vision, I further strengthened my knowledge in the fashion and lifestyle industry by securing a formal degree from NIFT. I have relevant industry experience with successful stints from some global brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Versace from New York.

Role and responsibilities

The creative and business mind of the brand. Lending expertise to the design output as well as operations, and creating a sustainable venture in this competitive environment of the D2C sector.

Strengths & weaknesses

Strengths:
• Strong business acumen- Grew the business 4x in 2022 with CM3 positive business.
• Highly creative -Ideated the first ever saree-inspired shoes which can be worn in five different styles.
• Team builder- Scaled the team 3x in 2022 with one of the highest retentions in the fashion industry.

Weaknesses:
• Focus on detail, resulting in perfection as well as delay
• Red shoes
• Blurring line between ambition and self-preservation

Aspirations you want to fulfill

My mission is not only to grow Monrow, I also strongly believe that a brand will only grow when all the employees or all the team members of the company grow, because supporting and empowering women is important to me.

Skills that helped you succeed in this industry

First, own your ambition; second ask for support, equal rights and responsibilities; never shy away from asking if you believe in yourself; and last but not the least, share your access and achievements, it will give the society a new lens to look you at.

Lessons learned over the years

A lot of mistakes happen in between the longevity of the business and the speed of growing the business, especially when it comes to a brand because it does require time. Sometimes prioritizing speed more can hurt the brand. I think one of the failures I have experienced is trying to diversify the product portfolio of the brand too early. The appropriate time is when you have gained market leadership in the original category where you launched.

Your take on the future of industry

The retail industry will grow as there will be a rise in tier 2 and tier 3 cities with digital strategies such as rise in digital payments as well as internet. Along with the market demand from urban and rural areas, online shopping is also going to increase. India is a promising market for retailers and its D2C brands are adopting the digital route for a
seamless service to the consumers.

Any role model in the industry

• Amancio Ortega
• Tory Burch

Life mantra

Work hard, chill harder.

This article first appeared in IMAGES Group’s Business of Fashion Magazine March 2023 issue.

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