Anuja joined her family business just after finishing her education and have been a part of the family’s logistic business for over 7 years. It was during this time, that she wanted to venture out and do something on her own. Supply Chain Management has always been her forte and she had a keen interest in latest fashion, trends, accessories etc.
Combining both these interests she founded Pinnacle Enterprises. Her humble beginning and lack of exposure didn’t stop her from exploring and even though it was tough for her to immediately convince the reputed brands. She did not let this take a toll on her and taking this more as her strength she started in the unbranded sector in Children’s garments. She would buy goods from Kolkata and sell in retail counters in Maharashtra. Dollar Industries then launched their female segment under the brand name “Missy”. The distribution of this business was offered to her. This opportunity was that turning point for her, from whereon she did not have to look back. Being a woman and gaining popularity and respect in this arena was a big thing for Anuja.
“My main focus has always been providing service which is not run of the mill. As a distributor, since we don’t have control over the goods manufactured our only USP is our service and customer satisfaction.”
In conversation with Anuja Deb Birla, Partner, Pinnacle Enterprises as she walks us through her path to success.
Tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with? How did your journey with the intimate apparel industry begin?
With respect to education, I have done my Engineering in Computer Science from Mumbai University and then a Masters in Operations Management from University of Bath, UK. I also have a post-graduate degree in Family Business Management from NMIMS, Mumbai.
After completing my education, I began my career by working in my family’s logistics business for 7 years and then decided it was time to venture out and do something which I could call my own since inception.
At this juncture, an old family friend who is a veteran in the apparel industry enlightened me of the opportunities in the same. I decided to start my own distribution company which would work in the buy and sell model; where-in I would directly buy products from manufacturers and sell to retail outlets. Initially being a novice, it was difficult to get a reputed brand and thus I started with unbranded garments for the kid’s segment.
After about a year of doing this, there was an opportunity of being the distributor for Dollar Missy- which is the female segment of Dollar Industries Ltd owning brands like BigBoss, Force etc. This was the turning point for the company and then there was no looking back.
How would you define true entrepreneurship? What are the ingredients or mantra that makes you who you are as an entrepreneur?
A true entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take risks and be brave to take on challenges in areas which they haven’t accomplished before. You not only have to go that extra mile but travel umpteen miles to be an entrepreneur.
I believe I am a person who doesn’t get distraught by failures. I am the kind of person who will be low after a disappointment but once I am up and about, I do not dwell in the past.
What advice would you give to women who want to start a business? What is that “one word” advice you will give to my readers when it comes to succeeding as an entrepreneur?
To all the women out there, I would like to say that the world is your oyster and there is nothing on the face of the earth that we can’t achieve if we are determined. Dream….make a plan….achieve. It is bound to fall in place. One word advice would be “Hard-work”, nothing can compensate for that.
Tell us about your average day.
Life is too short to call any of my days average.
Weekdays are generally governed by routine. Work hours are from 10-7 pm. Once back from work, I like to unwind at home and have a lovely cosy dinner with my better half.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
8 hours a day officially but my sub conscious mind is constantly glued to the business.
How many employees do you have working under you at present?
We have a team of 12 people right now.
How do you describe your job commitment and other parameters as a distributor?
As a distribution company, timely delivery and fulfilment of orders from retail is utmost priority. I ensure that stock is maintained in such a way to achieve 85-90% order fulfilment. Our team of delivery boys are efficient and facilitate in our goal of timely dispatches. Actions do speak louder than words.
What is your greatest achievement?
I still have miles to go before I sleep. But, I take pride in the fact that just within a couple years in the industry I represent four well-known brands today.
What do you consider to be your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was during my initial days when I didn’t pay too much attention to payment recovery. I worked on trust and assumed people will pay without being pressurised or followed up. I was wrong and that took quite a big hit in the business.
Who are your target consumer? Tell us a little about the brands you handle.
Target customers are all MBO (multi-brand outlets) across Mumbai right from CST to Karjat, Churchgate to Virar and entire Navi Mumbai region.
We look for stores with good credibility and which cater to the women clientele base.
Currently, we are the channel partners of these four leading brands namely:
- Missy by Dollar Industries Ltd
- Lovable Lingerie Ltd.
- Valentine (Ashapura Intimates and Fashion Ltd)
- Rupa and Co. Ltd
Entering the intimate world what kind of support did you anticipate to gather? Did you plan anything in advance or did it just happen for the good?
It is actually a funny story. I was already doing loungewear for Missy when intimate wear was offered to me. Initially, when I was offered intimate wear for these brands, I didn’t want to do it. It was uncomfortable for me. I told this to my husband and he said “Come on, look at it from a business perspective. You are anything but shy. Don’t lose out on such a fantastic opportunity” It was because of this push that I decided to explore the opportunity.
Today it makes me realise that intimate wear is a good product line as the demand for it doesn’t fluctuate drastically. It is more or less same during the year with surges during the wedding season and festivals.
Where is your office located? What made you choose your current location?
My office cum warehouse location is Thane. There were two reasons why I chose this area.
- Good connectivity to central, harbour and western areas.
- Close to home. In Mumbai, travelling time drains your energy. I am fortunate I do not have to waste that kind of time and energy to commute to work.
What are your hobbies?
My English teacher once told me after looking at my painting that “Anyone can learn a poem or a verse or even a book, but very few have the power to create. Never give up on it.” I still try and make time to paint and sketch. Creativity helps me stay rejuvenated. Apart from this I also utilise my time by editing and writing for the KYT (Know Your Town)magazine. I do not like meddling with my time and want to keep doing things that I love or is passionate about.
What motivates you? How do you generate new ideas?
My biggest motivators are my father and father-in-law. They started their life from scratch and have achieved success which is immeasurable. Even if I can achieve one tenth of what they have, I will be able to call my career fulfilling.
What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to expand with your network and what additions to the brand list are you eyeing at?
My vision is to someday partner with luxury international brands and be their exclusive channel partners in India.
Any brand that will enrich our portfolio is always on my radar. It would be unfair to take names.