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Bhavika Shah, founder of Beyondesign, a corporate communication and branding company, talks about the challenges she faced in a field where discipline was lacking and minimalistic design not appreciated.
Coming from a family where art was a huge influence, I grew up surrounded by beauty and design. My mother is an artist and that did rub off in its own way. My father is a businessman who challenges the meaning of the word perfection. With the artistic and organised genes, a business in the field of art seemed to fit in beautifully. I left home at the vulnerable age of 15 for the United World College in Pune, for the first time seeing tears in my Dad’s eyes as his protected little girl was going out into the big bad world. That day I decided that I have to go out and make him proud. I went on to securing a degree in Graphic Design from the MS University in Baroda and then to complete my Masters in Typography and Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art & Design, USA.
I juggled assignments, classes and a part-time job to put myself through University, which is something I would recommend to every student living abroad. It instils independence and ingenuity – An experience that made me confident, tough and framed who I am today.
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Coming back to India was a huge adjustment as I had a particular design sensibility and discipline that I found lacking in the workplace scenario. There was a huge communication gap; effective design was termed ‘kitsch’ and ‘in your face’. Minimal, clean design was almost considered blasphemy.
This propelled me to begin my own firm, Beyondesign, from my bedroom desktop. It was a big risk and most discouraged me to do so. My enterprising Nani insisted she would give me a loan to buy one computer and motivated me to begin the very same week; I thought about it. She gave me the confidence and said that there was no looking back. Soon, my work began to go around and I received positive feedback. It took a while to convince clients about the advent of a different school of design. More focus on typography and white space.
I had to explain that the white frame gave structure to the design; that space actually spoke louder. The effort paid off; with the steady stream of work, the company began to expand. Today my all-girls team of 8 has their own office space. Our clients range from multi-nationals to start ups, wedding planners, individuals and just about anything you can think of in the communications space. It’s absolutely a thrill to see my brand go from strength to strength and all the support has been appreciated. We work with over 200 corporates and are a proud all-girls team. Beyondesign concentrates its work in the field of corporate communication – branding, logo development, print design, web design, space design, event design and just about anything we can dream up.
Today, I juggle work, clients, my team and of course my two-year-old daughter who all demand attention. Mornings are a three ring circus of phone calls, diapers and instructions; but that’s the chaos that keeps one thriving. Every morning is exciting and every minute is an adventure. Making sure I am there for all my daughter’s appointments, field trips, birthday parties and bedtime is my priority. The bond strengthens itself most in these formative years which I will never have back, so a compromise is never even a question. Thankfully, I also have a very understanding and supportive husband who encourages me in all spheres. He is the strength behind every dream I have, encourages me and along with his family pushes me to achieve it.
Shernaz Ranji, has been the pillar behind me for the last four years. She has stood by me and helped me run Beyondesign, without whom it would be impossible. She keeps me going – destresses me, is a friend in need and is always calm and collected. She understands me and has led the team to its success. Clients fall in love with her and she keeps them calm through all the stormy deadlines.
Meeting clients is a necessity to understand their requirements so that we can deliver to our full potential. Of course, one does face many obstacles when dealing with all sorts of people. Dealing with whims, egos and demands can be stressful, but being in the industry, you learn to deal with it the same way a mother learns how to handle her baby’s many moods and tantrums. It is literally like sleeping with the enemy, we fight and ultimately hope to fall in love with all our clients and have them reciprocate. We try to convince them using every tactic in the book as it’s even harder to explain what they are paying for. Often they want more for their money and all we want to give them is less – in our books less is more! Over the years, I think we have managed to convince most of our clients. It’s a jam-packed day filled with so much, I don’t think I would trade it for anything.
Are you a woman running a business in India? Would you like your story to appear in our Day In The Life Of An Entrepreneur series? Email us at admin AT womensweb DOT in with an interesting account of a day running your business, and we may publish it! (For example, what was the one interesting thing you did that day? Did you meet someone new/had a conversation with a customer? What thrills you at work? What are some business challenges you’re currently grappling with?) Also send us a few pictures of you at work – with your team, at your desk, at the factory, meeting a customer…
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