Tejashree Pola - Fashion Designer & Brand owner at 'Label Tej'
Dressing for a New Normal : Ms. Tejashree Pola speaks on how fashion industry adapts to the new normal in the post Covid phase.
As the world faces a pandemic and people are forced to adapt to this new
normal, we focus on how the unfolding situation is affecting the people who
make our clothes. Malls are shut, stores are closed and runway events are
being cancelled worldwide. While the bigger brands are reinventing
themselves with- online showrooms, virtual clothing & digital catwalks, the
independent designers are also inventing creative ways to keep up with the
new normal. Our guest Miss. Tejashree Pola shares the challenges, struggles
and changes while adapting to the new normal, working as an independent
designer during the pandemic.
“Being a designer requires creativity, patience, passion towards your work, and hard work” explains Miss. Pola who after completing her Post Graduate Diploma in Fashion Designing & Clothing Technology decided to follow her dreams with her own clothing brand ‘Label Tej’. “I love fashion because it is like an extension of my personality and being a designer gives me the freedom to be creative and widen my visualisation. I get to create new things every day” reveals Miss. Pola.
As the backlashes of the novel coronavirus have changed the fashion industry it has been a learning curve for everyone in the industry who are now adapting to the new normal and are riding out the storm by redressing their businesses.
How have the pandemic lockdowns been for you? Did it impact you as an independent designer?
Yes, definitely it has. The pandemic has put us in a difficult situation where people are worried about their jobs, finances, and many more such things. Fashion is the last thing on people’s minds right now. Like everyone else even I had to face many roadblocks, but instead of panicking I decided to give my best to my work and find new ways to progress.
Did you face any challenges (like cancellation of orders, limited cash flow, more processing time for the orders) due to the lockdowns?
Fortunately, there was no real downtime for me, but more than cancellations, I had to face issues with the cash flow and the client budget. The pandemic created a scarcity of things due to which the prices of resources went up, whereas the budgets of the clients were very restricted. Because of this, I had to lower down my charges, which affected my profits. .
As an independent designer with no solid setup- is it difficult to work in such a restricted environment? How do you manage to do your orders?
Meeting clients personally was the biggest challenge that I had to face during the pandemic, so I had to come up with a solution like using a digital platform and being available for online meetings. I had to take measurements on video calls by explaining to clients all the details. Most of the work is getting done by virtual meetings these days.
How do you cater to your clients? (Taking their orders, managing trials, inventory, etc.)
While catering to a client it is very important to make them feel comfortable and understand every small detail about their style. I suggest to them all design possibilities that I can curate keeping their budget and requirements in mind. Once everything is finalised the next step is again an important part of the process which is taking measurements which is then followed by the production process. The next step follows as the products are ready I take them for trials to my clients and once the quality check is approved, the products are delivered.
With new restrictions & COVID guidelines, how are you managing the bridal trials which is an essential part of your work?
Trials are the biggest and important part of the designing process. People are sceptical about leaving their house and meet others so I have to be prepared to assure them of their safety by taking all necessary precautions like maintaining distance, steam ironing garments to keep them disinfected so that clients should feel safe & comfortable.
You have worked closely with the local artisans. With factories closed and migrant workers attempting to go home, what impact it had on production?
As the local artisans were not available & the market was closed, I couldn’t take any urgent orders. I had to wait to reach out to resources which took a longer period for production than before.
Facing this adverse time did you ever doubted your
decision of giving up a secured job and starting your
Never! To be honest who doesn’t love a secured job with a static source of income? But I always dreamt of having my label and nurturing it further. It gives me strength and confidence.
From a fashion student to an entrepreneur & designer- has anything changed in the way you look at fashion?
My approach towards fashion has changed a lot. Initially, I only cared about the styles and designs but now as an entrepreneur, I have to think about multiple things like the requirements of the client, the market trends, timelines, finances and still give the best to my every client. Since I am into customisation this field allows me to work with different people/client and their requirements and preferences. So it is a new experience in terms of creativity, experimenting, and gaining knowledge. Fashion is such a big wide world and as a student I learned the terms but as an entrepreneur I have discovered that the spirit of an entrepreneurship is very distinct. I am learning something new every day!
Do you think online stores and e-selling are going to be the future of the fashion industry?
Yes, definitely it is not only the future but also the present of this industry.
Do you use any social media or digital platforms to connect to your clients?
Yes, Instagram is booming with time. This pandemic has changed my approach towards social media completely and I believe social media is the need of the hour for all businesses and communications.
Any words of advice for the aspiring designers?
Fashion designing as a profession requires a lot of dedication, hard work, passion, and love for your work. It helps you find your own creative side. So have patience and follow your dream.
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has posed serious challenges for everyone in the fashion industry but also has presented an excellent opportunity to reshape how things work, simplify businesses and, ultimately, align them more closely with customer needs. Things are changing and so shall we. Crises are always an opportunity to shine. As Indians we are known to face adverse situations and turn them into opportunities so keep working hard, great things will eventually arrive.