By Proyashi Barua Hindustan Times, New Delhi.
You don't need to dream with your eyes wide open or closed. For your dream to become a reality, all that you need to do is marry your passion with your knowledge. This is what Jagrati Shringi, an electronics engineer from Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology did when she started Voylla.com, a traditional jewellery store and e-retail portal. The portal has over 10,000 designs in fashion and imitation jewellery, and caters to men, women and children.
After acquiring a graduate degree from University of Pittsburgh in telecommunication, Shringi started her career in August 1999 at C-DOT, a telecom research and development organisation as a trainee. She was promoted as a research engineer in May 2000. In January 2005, she was appointed by Laurel Networks in the US as a software engineer where she was the only woman employee in software development.
"My stint at Laurel Networks, was a turning point in my professional career. Later, I was deputed to lead a key technology group in India. When I finally relocated to India in 2011, I had a novel idea. I wanted to start an enterprise that would combine both my passion, and love for fashion and technology. And this was how Voylla was created," she recollects.
Talking about experiences that inspired her to make this career switch Shringi says, "I think I defy conventional perceptions. Technology and fashion are two domains that don't normally constitute a single person's passion. A person is either fascinated by technology or is a connoisseur of fashion. However, I am passionate about both. I followed my first passion, technology, through the first decade of my career. However, I was subconsciously aware that my true calling was in a form of work that blends technology with art. The itch to do something in this space, just anything, kept me looking for avenues to explore opportunities, and then Voylla happened.
Shaping up Voylla as India's number one designer jewellery brand was a dream come true. I was the merchandiser, buyer, tech person, marketing person, all rolled into one. "
Shringi attributes her success to her husband's unflinching support. "My husband Vishwas is also my business partner and absolutely nothing would have happened without his support," she says .
Elaborating on her work, she says, "Designing a piece of jewellery for us (at Voylla) is a very thorough and well thought out process. We decide on a story line months in advance and this is followed by creation of the mood board. Voylla focuses on traditional Indian jewellery and being in a culturally rich city like Jaipur, one is never short of inspiration.
One thing that separates us from our competition is our generous application of technology at each stage of the creation. Our market research is aided by our tech engines that give us comprehensive insights. Consequently, we are in a position to incorporate relevant design inputs in our collection that translate into brisk sales."
Talking about the high points and challenges of her career, she says, "Though I was always academically inclined, I wasn't the stereotypical topper with glasses. I've also won the school beauty pageant and the title of best student. After school, I went to NIIT Bhopal to acquire a degree in electronics and communication engineering and topped the university for quite a few semesters.
I joined C-DOT after that through campus selection and won numerous accolades. Thereafter, I joined the University of Pittsburgh for a master's degree and immediately after completing the course, I joined a high-tech routing firm. There I got the opportunity to work on a cutting edge smart-router with a small team of 15 engineers. Before I knew it I was deputed to help establish the India office for the company. Once I accomplished this mandate, I realised that the time was right to work on my other passion -- fashion. Working on Voylla and seeing it grow is beyond doubt the highest point of my career," she elaborates.
So how different is the experience of designing traditional/conventional jewellery pieces from designing modern pieces? "We have seen classic looks with a modern twist slowly but surely entering every jewellery lover's treasure box. One of a kind, quirky pieces are a huge hit in urban markets, especially Swarosvki-studded pendants and rings. Fusion jewellery that marries Indian inspiration with western class is a pure delight to create. We, at Voylla, absolutely love this space and create pieces that have a story of their own," says Shringi.
In our country there are some age-old design traditions that are dying and several designers are striving to revive these design forms.
"We continuously take inspiration from the hidden gems of India like thewa, kashmiri jhumkis, lac bangles and Mughal arts. We also work with various NGOs that help us get designs created by artisans themselves. This results in a genuine handmade look and feel for our customers. These profits are directly passed on to the craftsmen."
Brief bio Jagrati Shringi Profession: Jewellery designer Day begins at: 10 am Day ends at: No fixed timings here Work hours: Not definite Responsibilities: Designing, researching market trends, marketing creations Family: Try and spend quality time with the family over the weekends Vacations: Subject to work pressure When not at work: Finding creative inspiration from life and people
Secrets of the art Designing jewellery that is relevant to the market is an interdisciplinary art. When thinking of a design pattern one should have the ability to ascertain its market potential. Having knowledge of specific marketing channels translates to another plus point. In short, a successful designer should have a thorough grasp on all aspects of the business. Business sensitivity, data affinity, study of the market and consumer psycho-grahics coupled with a sound marketing strategy are all indispensable prerequisites of a successful designer.