From being listed in Fortune India's Most Powerful Women's list for the 7th consecutive year to making it to Forbes Asia's Power Businesswomen list for the first time, veteran fashion designer Anita Dongre says each achievement is a form of encouragement that motivates her to work harder and better.
In her journey of over 20 years in the industry, the designer through her label vouches for empowerment and has find and created opportunities for women. She believes that employment should be taken back to the villages of India.
Currently, her foundation provides vocational training and sustained employment to six village centres comprising of 300 women and are on track to set up 30 centres in the next two years thereby impacting the lives of over 1,500 women.
Dongre shares more about her achievements, her commitment to women empowerment and her recent collaboration with Paperless Post for bespoke digital wedding invitations. Read excerpts:
1. You featured on Fortune India's Most Powerful Women's list for the 7th consecutive year. How is the feeling?
It's always humbling to see our efforts being recognised and appreciated. Honestly, for us, it's just another form of encouragement that motivates us to work harder and better.
2. What is the secret to it?
Right from when I began this journey with my sister Meena, our core values have always been aligned. Today, I work with all my siblings and now my son Yash has joined the business. It's great to see that all of us have the same vision which we're able to translate to the 2,000 plus people who directly work with us and we're all working towards one common goal.
3. You have also been featured on the Forbes Asia list for the first time. Do you feel more pressure and responsibility after each such achievement?
I always feel that being at a place of influence, however big or small, we have a responsibility to bring about whatever change we can in whatever way we can. That's what I constantly strive to do every day.
4. Indian women today are shinning in almost every field. What do you think has driven this change?
It's great to see that so many Indian women are front leaders in every sphere - be it sports, arts or science. Ever since I started designing, I've always found my inspiration in women who work and support each other to achieve their individual goals.
I feel a constant motivation just by seeing to listening to these success stories. Now with the onset of social media, women have the opportunity to identify and connect with other like-minded women, find strength in each other's voices and therefore be able to empower one another to pursue their dreams.
5. But do you think there is still something lacking?
While India is still progressing towards change, in large parts of our country, we're still predominantly a patriarchal society and women are still working towards overcoming these archaic social prejudices and norms. I have always believed that empowering women economically is going to bring about that change.
6. How do you imbibe the idea of women empowerment in your creation?
My brand has always been a reflection of the woman of today and what she seeks. I endeavour to find and create as many opportunities as I can. Moreover, for me, a very important part of empowering women is economic empowerment. That's why 60 per cent of our team comprises women at the backend alone, and indirectly we're associated with thousands of others which include the artisans we work with which gives them a channel of income.
We aim to create platforms for them to earn enough money to elevate their standard of living. We've currently set up seven community tailoring centres in the villages of Maharashtra and are on track to set up 30 more in the coming year.
7. Tell us about your collaboration with Paperless Post.
I'm really excited about partnering with Paperless Post, where we have created 11 sets of bespoke wedding invitations. These digital invitations are an extension of the Anita Dongre sensibilities and have been created, aiming to bring the artistry of wedding designs to invites. For us, it was a collaboration that fit in so perfectly with our core values and this is one way to encourage brides and grooms choosing sustainability, and help them make an environmentally conscious choice that has plenty of aesthetic appeal.
Paperless Post has collaborated with international design maestros such as Oscar de la Renta, Kate Spade New York, and Kelly Wearstler and we are honoured and delighted to be the first Indian designer to create a range for them. Our design teams creatively worked together on our signature prints from past collections to be a part of these digital invites.
These bespoke invitation cards are versatile and customizable, each set includes specific invitations for the respective events (mehendi, sangeet, reception etc.) which make the wedding tradition so special. As these cards are coordinated, the bride and the groom can choose the one that fits their wedding theme.