Kavita formally took over the management reins of STYLEMART Dept. Store Pte Ltd in 1999. She identified the need for a change in the management strategy and to create a new niche in the market. Within a year, she established Stylemart Bridal Collection Pte Ltd. and started catering to the growing demand in the bridal segment. Kavita revamped the management team, keeping just one individual as a partner, and changed the market focus.
Recognizing customer service as the key to survival and success, she trained her new staff personally. She created a new shopping ambience with an extensive renovation and extended the retails floor space from 700 sq ft to 1800 sq ft. Within one year, she brought her sales up by 50% and it tripled over the next 5 years. Stylemart is a high end fashion label today thanks to Kavita’s tireless focus on branding, customer service and personal charisma and creativity.
A gifted fashion designer and an innately creative individual, her passion for Stylemart stems not merely from her quest for perfection in the business endeavor, but from a deep, personal drive for artistic fulfillment. This drive all but made her establish her own workshop with in-house tailors, which increased profit margins. She started manufacturing some of her own designs and worked on one-to-one customer orders, making one of a kind, unique pieces with an Indian twist.
The real growth potential, however, lies in exploring wider horizons for revenue. Kavita, sound of business acumen and full of creative energy, recognized the market share beyond the Indian community. She started creating apparel for the majority non-Indian market in Singapore, which turned out to be yet another initiative that underscores the brand’s success. Today, a large segment of its clientele is from the Chinese and expatriate communities in Singapore.
Kavita recognized the need for high profile, powerful women who like to dress in modern styles, but with a traditional ethnic twist that reflected different cultural backgrounds. Addressing this demand, in 2004, she launched her own fashion label Asian Woman and started an outlet at Centrepoint, Orchard Rd. It attracted much public attention, and was a finalist at the Start-up competition organized by Ace, an affiliation to Spring Singapore. At the height of its popularity, Kavita was also invited to participate at the KL Asia fashion week, which spread her popularity across borders, and brought many international dignitaries and royalty to her store. To her, this event highlighted the growing interest of the regional market in her products. Retail business, however, was where her heart lay, and she chose to concentrate on it rather than move towards a B2B business model.
Such genuine passion rarely goes without its monetary rewards. In Jan 2006, Kavita purchased the commercial property from which she operated. This procurement added another 750 sq ft to the retail space to make a total 2400 sq ft of retail space on Selegie Rd, where she moved her Asian Woman to. This consolidation has proved to be significantly better for her company, providing a more streamlined customer experience.
In 2007, Kavita embarked on an ambitious plan to tap the emerging Indian market. She started up a spa and lifestyle boutique in Bangalore, India, in June 2007. The Indian beauty industry is worth more than USD 1.5 billion and is rising at 20% p.a. Kavita is confident that she will carve a niche in the Indian beauty market with her emphasis on excellent service that will raise the benchmark of the spa industry there. The Spa will also be an ideal platform for her to later launch herself as a fashion designer in India, when the time comes.
Kavita’s accomplishments with Stylemart and beyond reiterate the age-old foundations of success in a business endeavor – excellence in service rather than marketing gimmicks, clarity of vision rather than fads, genuine creativity rather than counterfeits, strength of character rather than excuses, and plain old hard work. There are no shortcuts to success, and Kavita took none.
To Kavita, success is not measured in terms of the money accumulated, and her goal is not merely the financial success of one entrepreneur’s journey. The journey of life has never been about the destination, it is about the passion for perfection, drive for excellence and the infinite pleasure in doing it right in every step.
“I have always stayed true to my identity, culture and heritage as a Singaporean born Indian woman, my upbringing in a modern cosmopolitan city like Singapore where I have been privileged to have been given the best in life, has cultivated and given me an eye for good things & great taste. I have tremendous passion for the craftsmanship in traditional indian embroidery and textile, fashion is not merely clothing for me but more a piece of art, and an expression of my soul.”
My latest collection is inspired by the French Riviera – the glamorous lifestyle of the movie star in Cannes and the glitz and glory of the fast cars in Monte Carlo. This collection is designed for the women who enjoy luxury and opulence. Its bold colors interlaced with crystals and rhinestones of all hues embellishing shimmering shades of molten gold fabrics spell class and luxury. The silhouettes are sexy and cut close to the body, with an unmistakable hint of our Asian touch.
I’ve always been inspired by my heritage and culture mixing Asian opulence with western cuts and silhouettes. My design philosophy is to stay true to my Asian inspirations hence my label Asian Woman. You will always see Asian influences in my designs and I enjoys this mix of east and west. That is my signature style, whether I’m designing an evening gown or a fashion garment. And you will see my use of Asian textiles and embroidery.
I design for the non- typical bride – the bold and the beautiful. Brides who enjoy the Bling and like the attention on the lime light. Brides who love looking glamorous. In fact, my clients are not merely brides; anyone looking for a fashionable evening gown will find themselves spoilt for choice at my boutique. I have been told that when someone wears a design of ours, they make heads turn.
The fabrics I use are only pure silks, I absolutely say NO! NO! to synthetics. I love using silk chiffons and georgettes that drape well and are fluid. As for fabrics the collection we carry is huge. A client can choose everything from brocades, chiffons, tulles , the choice is unlimited. And embroidery is our specialty and we can do the most intricate embroideries. We have our own embroiderers too, so that we can customize our embroideries to suit the client’s taste. Many of our couples are cross culture marriages and they would like wedding outfit to reflect both cultures and that we are experts at.
This season I’ve been working on some very intricate thread embroideries that have old Persian influences. It’s a hybrid of colors in the embroidery itself. As for the dress, the color palette is kept neutral. Nudes, beiges, off whites look amazing when combined with a brightly colored embroidery. I still love using mostly silk chiffons but I am also using laces this season mixed with tulles. My silhouettes are usually drapes close to the body but this season we are leaning towards a more fuller look.
I usually meet up with a client personally and work with them to create the gown of their dreams. We carry off-the-rack as well as made-to-measure services. After we produce a design, we do not replicate and make another pieces of the same kind. That way each and every gown we create is a one-of-a-kind piece. We also take care of the wardrobe for the mother of the brides and we have a men’s department as well for the groom. I sometimes assist the bride with finding a make-up artist and style the details such as hair-do and photo-shoots. I have even done wedding invites for a few couples too. Basically I am quite happy to use my contacts and resources to assist the couple. We are very personalized with our services that way. That is why many of our clients become friends and I am very proud and happy to be part of their wedding.
The options for Brides who come to us are quite wide. We have a very large collection of fabrics in-house that they can look to identify with, in terms of fabric and embroidery choices. We can cater to over 300 colors from our color chart so really I mean it when we say the options are almost limitless. We do a big fashion show every year and brides can look through our look books to identify some elements of designs from various dresses they like to incorporate into their dress.
I think they like that it’s a one-of-a-kind piece, and that the designs are created specific to their taste. I personally look into the creation of the piece and attend into their fittings to ensure we get the desired effect. My clients trust me and I am honest with my opinion. They like my taste and that make a big difference.
Research the current trends and styles and don’t just stick to typical wedding dresses. Learn and know more about the quality of the fabric, the difference between silks and synthetics. Look into the details of the embroidery, because it can make a big difference to the total impact of the garment. Know your likes and dislikes, as that is important.
Well, Stylemart is a brand name associated with fashion wear for over 30 years and now. Our designs have begun to create international interest. My customers are from all walks of life , from different cultures and for all occasions. And they come from many parts of the world. We launch a new collection with a big fashion show in September every year. We hope to make Stylemart a shopping destination for the bride to be and her family from all over the South East Asia region. We hope every bride-to-be will come by and see what we have to offer before making her final decision.