Interview

Having Complete Faith In Yourself Can Help Overcome Challenges In Our Own Way, Says Shivani Malik

“If you’re clear on what you believe, you have a great foundation to go make a market,” if Shivani Malik career had to be summed up in one line, this would be apt.

Who Is Shivani Malik?

Shivani Malik, Director, Da Milano, entered the business back in 2007 when Da Milano had only two stores. Reckoned as a fast-moving bridge-to-luxury brand, Da Milano today has more than 85 stores including operated showrooms at 21 Airports in India, 5 showrooms in the UAE and 1 in Nepal. Ms Malik is responsible for the brand’s global acclaim in the Gulf.

In 2010, Ms Malik co-founded Rosso Brunello, a leading footwear brand in India and UAE.  In 2017, Ms Malik co-founded another brand, Wooba, a contemporary leather accessories brand, which has been founded by the team behind Da Milano. The brand aims to appeal to the fashion-conscious youth seeking quality products and at an affordable price point.

On the occasion of Women’s Day, we had an interaction with, Mailk were she spoke about various barriers faced by women and her journey so far.

What does the International Women’s Day theme, #ChooseToChallenge means for you in your work life?

As women, we all have to face obstacles on a daily basis. Driving societal change and challenging the status quo is never easy – cultural shifts do not happen overnight, but having complete faith in yourself and your abilities can help overcome these challenges in our own way.

Can you talk through your business goals for 2021?

2021 has been a hard year for every business. We have focussed on consolidating and stabilizing keeping the current market scenario in mind. It’s all about taking baby steps to realign and restrategize according to customer behaviour. The key is to find the gap in the market and meet the demands.

From 2 stores of Da Milano to 85 stores now, how has your journey been so far?

I’ve always spoken about how I consider Da Milano my first baby. Every journey comes with its set of hurdles and challenges. One has to deal with them no matter how long they’ve been in business and it’s always rewarding once you overcome them. When trying to establish a brand and keep it moving forward, one faces them every day and that’s a part of your journey. I remember the obstacles we had to face when we wanted to expand and set up our stores in the Delhi malls in 2007. We received huge competition from international brands. It came in the form of mall owners offering them better store spaces. Once the store was set up, I would stay at the store for eight hours straight understanding the clients; what they required, what was missing, what could be fixed and how we could improve their service for the first few months.

Since then, we’ve come a long way and have stores across the country and two international stores in Dubai and Nepal. We’ll be launching our newest store in The Dubai mall very soon.

Tell us something about ‘Monsoon Kids’, how it helps to educate underprivileged children.

The school was started by my grandmother. It was her dream to impart education to underprivileged children with the aim to equip them with the necessary skills to compete in a global marketplace, so they can lead a life of dignity. The vision of the school is to end the perpetual cycle of poverty. I firmly believe that education is an investment made for a brighter future for children.  It’s an English medium school headed by my mother for slum kids around Kalkaji and has classes till grade 5. Post that, we sponsor their education and get them admitted to Balwant Rai School. Along with that, we also introduce dental & hygiene camps for the kids and their parents. It’s something that’s been very close to my heart and has been a part of my upbringing. 

What influenced you to launch two brands in lifestyle?

We gauged the massive gap between the Indian and International retail market while the two of us were studying in London. Once we realised what we were missing in the country, we decided to start a leather goods brand in India. We wanted to offer luxury at affordable prices. We wanted to provide the customers with high-quality products and great service.

How is Rosso Brunello different from other footwear brands of yours?

Rosso Brunello is high fashion at affordable prices. No other Indian brand offers the same variety, comfort and exclusivity as us. It has become extremely popular among men and we’re one of the leading men’s footwear brands.

What barriers do women face in developing careers across their working life?

Every woman has to face barriers no matter what their background is. As a working woman, each day comes with its own set of challenges. There are multiple obstacles like wage gaps and not being taken seriously. Ultimately, it’s your belief in yourself that would get you through.

At Da Milano, we hire more and more women because I believe that women are stronger and better workers.

Who have been your role models? What about them do you admire?

It has never been a single person. Anything and everything can inspire me. At work, my own team is a source of constant inspiration. My mother’s dedication has always been very inspiring. One can find inspiration in the smallest of things. Whenever I read stories about Oprah Winfrey or Kamala Harris, it always makes me work harder every day because one can achieve anything they set one mind to.

What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age?

Maintaining a healthy balance between work and family especially for working mothers. We always feel bad when something loses precedence. Whichever way you lean, the other would always suffer. I think we should concentrate a hundred per cent on wherever we are, be it work or home rather than being guilty all the time and remember that we’re human and every day is a work in process. All we can try to do is improve as we go ahead.

Shivani Malik has been honoured with many awards and accolades including the Confluence Excellence Award in London Parliament in 2018, Exceptional Women of Excellence at Women Economic Forum 2018, Excellence in the field of Brand Marketing at ICUNR International Women’s Day Award 2018, Woman of Now at #NowIsCalling 2018 by Hello magazine, Excellence in Entrepreneurship, at Indian Women Achievers Sammaan 2017 in Bahrain Convention held in 2018, Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 by You and I, to name a few.

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