Kalyani Chawla is the founder of Rezon Luxury Silverwareand Koi Communications. She does strategic marketing for luxury brands and has served as Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for Dior, India. She talks about her journey and accomplishments.
Q. You are one of the most brilliant and self-driven entrepreneurs in India today. Tell us about your journey?
A. As calculated as my life seems to be, it’s actually the opposite. It has been very diverse—from hospitality to publishing, then from fashion to design. I opened the first lifestyle store in Calcutta. I worked with the famed Parisian fashion house Christian Dior. Presently, I have built my Rezon Silver accessories brand from scratch. I am enjoying this moment in time. As for how tough it has been, without knowing how things will unfold, I have never taken on anything I was not confident about. I have always trusted my instincts which has never let me down.
Q. One has to credit you for building Dior into a desirable brand in India. How did you pull off the feat of becoming the brand’s Vice-President of Marketing and Communications in India twelve years ago?
A. Having run an export company of fashion accessories for almost a decade, I understood the nuances of how international fashion houses work. I acquired knowledge of the workings of international brands, from A to Z. I think the combination of having a solid retail background in Calcutta, along with supplying my goods to high end luxury stores across India also benefited me. I was fortunate that Paris really trusted me. I was able to deliver a unique and unusual strategy that had never been executed before. The brand came into India without any pre-conceived prejudice at all. And we integrated with the Indian mindset successfully.
Q. You have broken the glass ceiling and established a great career. Share with us what the most challenging part has been?
A. It has been a long and arduous journey for sure. But my USP is that I have never excessively thought about a problem. Rather, my focus has been on the solution. I don’t think I allow myself to be bothered by the challenges. I am quick to handle and tackle it effectively.
Q. Year after year you’ve been on India’s most coveted best dressed list of Vogue and Hello Harper’s Bazaar etc. How do you manage to always look stylish?
A. Since I was a kid growing up in Calcutta, I was lucky to imbibe both my dadi and nani’s innate glamorous and exquisite style. My dadi gifted me my first bikini from Italy. She indulged me to the hilt. Since we had an in-house tailor, we would be constantly tearing out pictures from fashion magazines and getting clothes stitched. My dadi, who was quite like Marlene Dietrich, was my style influence growing up. I firmly feel it’s a matter of self respect, to be looking a certain way, every time you step out.
Q. Share with us the traits you possess that can motivate the next generation.
A. I feel we live in difficult times at present. The younger generation is going through immense depression and facing a lot of competition. It’s important to take time out, introspect and find happiness within ourselves. So my idea of impact is that the younger generation can say, “It’s because of you, that I did not give up”.
Q. What’s your mantra in life?
A. Live and let live. As we all have our mantras and benchmarks of achievement and goals that we must set for ourselves. For, if we are not happy within, we cannot radiate it to our loved ones and all around us.