Sabyasachi's secret sauce

What made Sabyasachi the iconic designer that he is today? He lists 20 golden rules

  • Published 27.04.19, 7:18 PM
  • Updated 27.04.19, 7:21 PM
  • 4 mins read
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'Understand that while art is important, commerce is equally important. Learn to balance both.' Picture: Pabitra Das
  1. Learn to have singularity of vision. And learn to trust your instincts.
  2. Prepare for hard work, discipline and sacrifice to get to the top.
  3. Integrity is very important in business, never short-change long-term goals for short-term benefits.
  4. Understand that while art is important, commerce is equally important. Learn to balance both. 
  5. Have a design and visual language that is yours and nobody else’s, so that people can easily identify with it.
  6. Pay importance to not just the product but the periphery as well, like if you were to open a retail store how would it look like, what would the packaging look like, how you will sell.
  7. Have an Instagram and a social media plan. Because of the digital age, how you present your clothes on the Internet is as important as the clothes themselves. Get a creative team of a photographer, a model, a make-up artist and a copywriter to create digital advertising that is very unique to you. Your advertising should always have a point of view that is yours — whether it is the choice of models you use, whether it is the way you shoot your campaigns, or whether it is the way you present your products.
  8. Create markers in your brand very early in your career and keep repeating them for iconism so that your brand gets recognised for them. Markers for Sabyasachi have been our borders, the colour red, the Royal Bengal Tiger logo, the floral prints. Because every two years we keep bringing it back again and again till we own that space.
  9. For the first five years of your career focus on quality over quantity; quantity can happen but not at the cost of quality
  10. For the first five to six years of your career don’t get a PR, because you are your best PR. A PR later only becomes a facilitator, eventually a customer wants to know what you have to say, your opinion cannot be doctored by someone else. Right now a lot is expected of a designer — you have to look good, you have to dress a certain way, you have to speak well. But if I were to actually tell you what is the most important thing, learn to articulate your thoughts in words when you are speaking to the media. A lot of what you say actually creates your brand effectively.
  11. Understand the customer you are selling to and learn to be flexible enough to reach that end consumer. India is a country with many continents, if something is successful in one region of the country, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be successful somewhere else.
  12. Have a Bollywood plan; that is the most effective way to advertise your business and to get yourself noticed because nothing creates more mass hysteria in India than Bollywood, sports and politics; learn to use one of them or a combination of all for greater visibility.
  13. Try as much as possible not to discount your brand, it gives you a lot of respect in the public eye. 
  14. Become a successful local before you can go national. Become a successful national before you can go global. It is a better way to create a stronger foundation.
  15. Invest in people who grow your business; you cannot grow it alone. Identify people who are going to be important for your growth and make sure they are included in your personal growth also; excluding them from your growth is the biggest mistake that you can make. The people who work for you are like your family, you are responsible for them, sometimes even more than you are responsible for yourself, never forget that. Also, build genuine relationships with people who matter because if you are going to use and throw people you have to remember that the people whom you use on your way up are the people you have to face on your way down and it can get quite ugly.
  16. It is always important for your brand to have a little bit of a local identity. As you become bigger and bigger that local identity can become a national identity and as you become even bigger it can become a global identity. But as you enter from one market to the other, it is very important for you to carry forward your immediate local flavour because that is what makes you distinct. 
  17. Remember one thing in your career, that plagiarism is actually a boon, it is a marker of your success and the more you get plagiarised the more popular you become and the more people aspire to buy you. Not necessary to say that we should condone it, but whenever you are being plagiarised, remember that you are on your way to the top.
  18. Very early in your life give your company a structure in your head, as to how many places you want to diversify into. Like, let’s say you want to only remain a clothing brand, or do accessories, add beauty... hints of those ideas need to appear into your business plan very early so that you don’t look like an opportunist when you grow your business.
  19. Criticism should only make you grow, react to criticism positively. Some criticism is important for you to take stock of your internal flaws and to develop them, sometimes people criticise you for the sake of criticising, so you need to understand that and you need to block yourself from it and move ahead. In short, a creative journey without criticism can be quite dangerous, you need to know how to take it in your stride and how to evolve with it. Similarly, praise is also very important but you should understand where the praise comes from and the source of it. Understand to differentiate the good praise from false praise because sometimes dwelling in false praise also means that you are blinded to your flaws and it can lead to a major breakdown in your attitude and your business.
  20. It is important to isolate yourself from people from time to time, to be able to look within, because all your answers lie inside. Your first competition should be with yourself and not anybody else. Even if you think that you have done something that is better than last year and last collection, and it is an inward journey that only you can see and no one else can see, that is success enough.
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