Skillfully tailored clothing in premium fabrics that move with the wearer is every fashion lover’s dream. The ever-evolving world of fashion holds unlimited possibilities of self-expression for the wearer. To break the clutter and cement space for themselves is every brand’s dream, and Perona with its line of apparel and accessories has done just that.

The Channel 46 caught up with Shruti Mangla, the entrepreneur and founder of Perona. From her vision for the brand to the journey of creating functional but fabulous fashion, she shares her story and advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs who want to enter this fiercely competitive market.

1. What’s your educational and professional background?

I did my schooling in an International Boarding School, living and learning amidst a fascinating and diverse social dimension of children from all over the world. I then went on to obtain a degree in finance from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University and eventually set out to study my ultimate passion, gemmology and jewellery design. 

In 2008, I joined my husband in managing his garment manufacturing and export company, Orion. An avid reader of biographies, my knowledge of the great leaders of the past propelled me to continually evolve my skills to build/ innovate each facet of the company. Today, being the Chief Operating Officer of the mother company Orion and creative director of Perona, my role is multifaceted. I cross-functionally drive product design and development, product engineering, production and quality control to create and manufacture the wide range of products we offer. 

2. What prompted the idea for Perona?

After having gained expertise by working for years alongside well known international brands in the high fashion industry, we felt it was time for us to bring forth our expertise to the forefront and explore it further with our own brand, and ‘sew our very own, unique story’. Perona stitches together the realm of experiences of our life and work, serving as a holistic platform for not only showcasing the nucleus of our craft but also the expression of our core values, beliefs and aspirations.

3. Did you always know you wanted to work in this space?

After completing my professional education and becoming a certified gemologist with specialisation in diamond grading and jewellery design, I opened my own company which designed and manufactured jewellery alongside bringing up my two children. By 2007 the business had started growing rapidly. During the same time, my husband’s business of manufacturing apparel for international brands was also growing rapidly. 

In 2008 I decided to join my husband, and work with him, rather than grow our lives separately in different business and passions. I was completely new to this world at that point in my life, all I had to offer was my creativity and my passion for challenges. Now upon reflecting, I realised that was one of the best decisions in my life. The world of garment and bags manufacturing, pattern making, product development and design took me on the most fulfilling journey.

4. What are your tips for an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to enter this space?

To start and successfully run a lifestyle brand, one requires boundless passion, cross-functional skills and ability to bottle the same into a viable business plan. For aspiring women entrepreneurs, here’s my advice:

  1. Stay hungry for learning. One can learn anything at any age. Never doubt your capabilities, always grow and learn and keep bettering your skill sets. 
  2. Never fear to tread into professional spaces traditionally led by men. Women are entering into many professions now which have historically been male-dominated. In my experience, anyone who has an open-minded approach and is system-orientated in their working methodology can be successful in any field of life, irrespective of being a man or woman as in today’s business environment, performance is the key. Whether these solutions come from a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter anymore. 
  3. Believe in your own human instincts. God has gifted each woman with the ability to lead with a human touch. There is great power in that, and it’s often what will give you the edge.

5. How long did it take you to monetise your venture? What was the turning point?

It took three years of consistent and diligent hard work before we opened our first store in April 2018. This is the point where we began seeing monetary transactions in exchange for sale of goods.

6. Are you looking for funding for your business?

We are conservative in our approach in terms of outside funding and investments. First, we wish to grow the brand with our own resources into a successful viable enterprise. Only when the brand stands as a strong business of a certain scale, will we look at any funding/investment for expanding the business.

7. Who are the key vendors one needs to secure to work in this space?

For us, it was vendors it two main categories: Raw material sourcing, and product development. These, together, help a brand keep up with the changing pace of the fashion industry. Perona has a strong yet diverse product line that continuously evolves with time. Many years of experience and longstanding associations with leading vendors from across the world allows us to procure the finest quality of leathers, fabric and trims required for our products.

8. How do you intend to scale up your business in the next 5 years?

We had aggressive plans to grow the brand domestically and internationally pre-pandemic. There is a small pause due to the current situation. However, we have opened our second store in October 2020 post-pandemic and will continue to pursue our plan to grow both domestically and internationally.

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About Self-Starters

We spotlight inspiring women who are entrepreneurs or have skill-based passion projects and are willing to share knowledge, advice and tips about getting started in the space. Each Self-Starter’s story will be highlighted in a prime slot on the Homepage for a week\.