Even as a child, Pallavi Singhee always had a flair for art. Her artistic sojourn began by converting a loft over her bunk bed into a dollhouse. She started her label Verb in 2008. A strong influence of Indian craft with a bohemian feel can be seen in her designs.
Abhishansa Mathur was in conversation with Pallavi Singhee to explore her journey from contacting Sabyasachi Mukherjee at the airport for work to founding her own label Verb by Pallavi Singhee.
Where did it all begin for you?
I worked with Sabyasachi Mukherjee for 4 years. In the third year, I started feeling that now is the time when I need to venture out. I had various ideas in my head which I wanted to execute. That’s when I started with Verb by Pallavi Singhee in the year 2008.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
My father is an interior decorator and architect. There has been a lot of stress on literature in my family and we all have always been very keen on doing creative things and picking up art. Since my childhood, I have been very interested in art along with academics. As I grew older, I started having more interest in it and that’s when I started studying as well. It actually came to me at the age of 18-19. I joined the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, to study ‘Accessory Designing’. At that time, the course Accessory was available in one part of India, apart from Gandhinagar. I had a very good rank so, I did Accessory even if I wanted to Fashion.
Please share the What, When, & How of starting your brand
One day I met Sabyasachi at the airport where it all began. I asked if he was Sabyasachi and he agreed. So, I told him that I wanted to work with him. He agreed and told me to come. He gave me a project when I went there and, I learned “Clothing” under him. When I started my brand, the most difficult thing to figure out was the “look” of my brand. Since I had already worked for someone for so long, it really took me a long time to get out of it and try things on my own. After two to three years, I understood how I wanted my brand to go forward.
Can you walk us through your journey so far?
I was super happy when I started with the brand. Initially, I was not much aware of what is happening in the market. I started going out and meeting with people. That’s how I realized what people are doing and what I want to do.
There was a time when I was doing all the fancy exhibitions costing us a lot. At the same time, I had the option of going to Paris and doing a show. But I had no idea what the Paris market would be like. We just took a chance. Out of the blue, it was the first time I created western clothes. We made a range of western women’s wear and took it to Paris. This is when the brand actually took shape and then we were full of orders. This is about the year 2014 and it actually proved to be a turning point for me.
What are some challenges that you faced while running Verb by Pallavi Singhee?
I think till some time back, we never focused on social media or getting the name recognized. Though, we were doing a lot of work. You see, it’s a big challenge to make people see your brand over social media. It’s also important to determine how you want your brand to be seen. This is such a fast-moving world that you always feel “what next”. That is always a pressure on the mind.
Give us some background on your sourcing of textiles?
We have a research team and we have weavers working all over the country. We spend time with artisans to figure out what are the techniques they are working with. We work with them to transform those techniques into a more modernized way so that people can use them. We also work on making products more affordable for people so that they can enjoy wearing them.
What according to you makes Verb by Pallavi Singhee stand out amongst other brands?
I feel we are a brand that is deeply rooted in history and heritage. We take a lot of inspiration from our folk art and culture. And, we try to use it in a contemporary fashion for people to identify themselves with it. The detailing work is inspired by a lot of history, and rural embroidery which I don’t think anyone else does. We do a lot of romantic and contemporary styles but they have a vintage presentation.
How are you using Social Media to promote your homegrown brand?
We are very new to social media. We are still trying to build our name. We are using it to show our techniques. We use certain keywords with which we think our brand can be recognized. We are striving for our brand to be associated with a particular quality when people look at a product on our page.
What is your 5-year plan for Verb by Pallavi Singhee?
We want to double the number of stores. We want to be seen as a more popular brand. We want to be an upmarket version of the brand Zara which would be more suitable for the Indian women, their bodies, and their sense of style. We want to make beautiful, affordable, and luxury pieces.
Can you share your business model with us?
We always try to find new techniques. We employ a lot of people on a contract basis and outsource our production too so that we can focus on the designing work.
One advice/suggestion you’d like to give aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
Work very hard and develop your own language. Work on having your own characteristics that make you stand out and everything else will fall in place.
Pallavi recommends you buy their Mithai print blouse. It has been our most popular blouse, both in India and abroad. It was worn by Katrina Kaif and Tapsee Pannu.