Varija Bajaj- Self-made Business woman to self-made designer

“It became imperative for me to first understand the pulse of the market and then design backwards.”

Says Varija Bajaj to Priyanka Singhal, Editors Delight

ED:  How did designing happen? Did you always want to become a designer or it came as a result of something? Tell us your story, which led you to the road of creativity and designing.

Varija: I have a Philosophy (Miranda House), Advertising (Xaviers Institute of Communications) and an MBA (University of Shiffield) background.  VARIJA that was conceptualized and began in 2004 was a business venture where I had designers working for me. I was into the management and looked after the strategies. But very soon I realized that the collection that was designed by my designers was much closer to the ramp than to the real people. It was ideal for models and petite figures.  They all looked good on the ramp  but the designs could have been endorsed by all and sundry.   Also there was a huge market of not –so- perfect shapes and sizes waiting to be tapped and I decided to go for it.

In Management they teach –“If your customers want rotten apples give them rotten apples”. Hence it became imperative for me to first understand the pulse of the market and then design backwards. Thence I started designing myself…instead of de-conditioning educationally trained designers.

I wouldn’t say that this is an ideal way of becoming a designer. It is very important to get technical/theoretical/educational training…which I didn’t and that meant figuring out ways on my own, which obviously took time. However I mastered all practical aspects while on the job. My strong will to achieve, coupled with my aesthetic sense and basic sense of proportion and balance helped me become a designer.

ED:  What does designing mean to you? How would you define designing as a person and as a designer? Is there any success mantra you particularly believe in?

Varija: Designing in any form is a creative expression of my thought process. It says more than what words can articulate…your lifestyle, your mood, your nature, your age…

As far as my success mantra is concerned, there is not just any one mantra. There are too many…there is no single formula for success ever.

ED: As a designer, what occasions do you like designing for the most? What kind of fabrics do you like working on? How do you ensure the designs match up with the fabrics?

Varija: Primarily, I design for formal and semi formal wedding occasions … They can be weddings, cocktails, receptions, theme parties etc. It also covers other events of celebrations and festivities.

Being Boho in feel VARIJA uses every possible fabric on earth.

ED:  Your forte is Weddings and Occasion wear. How do you ensure that the designs you make are unique and special for the bride? Do you hold conversation sessions with people before designing for them?

Varija: We retail pan India through various multi brand outlets where our creations are picked off the rack without one to one interactions with us. However for special occasions my clients seek appointments where we understand their need and understand their profile before suggesting/designing for them.

Like most designers…we have our own signature style, which is colorful, young, fun and essentially boho in feel. The idea is to depict celebration through finer nuances of our creation. We are known for our playful tassels unusual silhouettes and bright color combos…

ED: You’re also a case study at ISB, Hyderabad. How does it feel to be a case study at one of the most reputed B schools of India? 

Varija: It surely feels good… but not better than the learning that I have had in my journey of VARIJA in last 7years. No accreditation, award or reward can ever replace the feeling that this learning has given me.

ED:  How do you feel when you’re invited for celebrity chat shows? Do you do any special preparation for them? 

Varija: There was a phase when I used to be excited…but not anymore. It’s part of my work and a job that needs to be done…And there is no special preparation except for the fact that I make sure I don’t turn up in my work clothes.

ED: What is the future of Lotusse Lifestyles?  Where do you plan to open you store next. When do we see it happening?

Varija: Ahhh….too many! I want VARIJA stores in the top five cities of India. Then I would love to see multi-designer stores under Lotusse Lifestyles. Also I would love to explore and diversify in other lifestyle products.

We are in the process of evaluating various proposals and it would be too early to define a time line at this point of time.

ED: You’re a great designer who has been able to keep up with changing designs. What tips would you like to give to people who want to look trendy without spending too much? How would designers like us survive if people do not spend money? 🙂

I would just advise keep reading about the latest trends and observe Celebrities which are known to initiate Fashion.

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