What is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear ‘luxury’? Glamour, champagne, sophisticated parties bathed in a golden glow…in short another world altogether.
For me, it is a lot of sun, sweat and hard work.
And no, I don’t travel in long, swanky cars like my industry colleagues. It’s only when I manage to borrow one from my successful entrepreneur father that my feet get some relief. Hell! I can’t even wear smart heels - which are absolutely essential when you are in a luxury business - since I have to use public transport.
It all started when I took up a job in a media group which published print luxury magazines. After lot of work, late nights, unwarranted screaming by the top boss and massive pay cuts for stupid reasons, I decided it’s not worth it anymore. “If I can do it for them, then why not for myself?” I thought.
Realising that there is no online luxury magazine in India, the seeds of creating LuxuryFacts (www.luxuryfacts.com) were sown into my mind quickly. The idea enveloped my mind through all waking (and sleeping) hours. And then one fight triggered my resignation from the company and refusal to serve any notice period. I was free! Free to do whatever I wanted…
A two month sabbatical to relax my aching bones (yes, it was a taxing job!) helped me outline my plan and business idea further. I spent a considerable amount of time thinking that is it the right time? I am too young. I don’t have enough capital. I just had savings of Rs 50,000. Will people even take me seriously?
I had a quick chat with my parents. They only asked me, “You think there is a market for an online luxury magazine in India?” When I replied in the affirmative, they said, “Then go ahead with it. Don’t think about money, and who will say what, and your age. All those things can be worked out as you go forward. Just start putting things into motion.”
So without a business plan, a future plan or a goal chart, I jumped into it. And what a heady journey it turned out to be! From looking for an affordable good web designer to writing to my old professional acquaintances to going for press conferences and writing articles, I was the CEO and the peon of my new baby company.
The most complex thing about being in the luxury and online sector is that luxury is exclusive while online is considered mass. A lot of brands initially were apprehensive of including online blogs and websites in their PR/marketing campaigns because they felt their brand will get a ‘mass image’. It took a lot of education from my side to convince people that online is not mass. Audience can be filtered in online medium too!
My current hurdle is that though luxury brands now accept that blogs and online magazines are very important for visibility, they are still apprehensive of including them in their advertising budgets. They feel safer with regular print magazines and hardly want to experiment. So the second level of education includes telling brands that how online is much better for them in terms of larger visibility, multimedia avenues of telling their brand stories and larger shelf life.
Initially, I was extra sensitive. People would come, steal ideas, and try to leverage the popularity of LuxuryFacts to fulfill their own purpose. And I would rage and rant for long. Many would discuss ways of collaborations and advertising and then disappear. Once, a popular mall wanted to do an event with us. Promising us commissions, we started working on it as the contract was getting readied side by side. But the contract was never made because, actually, I figured that they didn’t want to pay any money for our hard work! So, well, I pulled out, and sulked for a week…
I soon learnt that having a thick skin is more beneficial than wasting time and energy on every Tom, Dick & Harry. While every email, every call, and every knock on the door may give a tempting opportunity, it is important to weed out the leeches. I am better at dealing with people now.
Today, 2 years and 9 months later, LuxuryFacts is considered a credible force in the Indian luxury industry. Readers come to our site and gulp down all the content we can give them. Even a single line of appreciation from a reader makes our day! I have co-edited my own book called ‘The Luxury Market in India: Maharajas to Masses’ which was published and released by Palgrave Macmillan in September 2012. We are quoted in quite a few media stories about the luxury industry, and people listen to what we say! I get many resumes, off-the-cuff, from young to experienced people, to work with us.
I am still mostly broke, travel in metros and autos, and I still haven’t come to the stage of carrying a luxury bag bought from my own money. But I have got opportunities and recognition which I might not have got in any job. Being an entrepreneur in the nascent Indian luxury industry and the relatively young online media scenario is tough, but wonderful and challenging all the same! I wouldn’t exchange this life for anything else…
my wish for this new year is that every young entrepreneur has an incredible story like yours to share here. not just because it it enriches the content here - but because it is so so INSPIRING!
when i read your story - i feel so proud of you, of every young person who wants to do something on their own.
i loved each word and each part. it's straight from the heart. i feel like i've travelled your amazing journey with you and can see how you've grown and matured as an entrepreneur!
many many congrats on all that you have achieved in such a short while! i applaud you!
p.s: you possess much more than any luxury bag!!!
Thank you so much! It really means a lot. :) I will feel I have actually done something in life if my story can get more people to follow their dreams... :) Thanks again for so much support!
Respect is the word for you Soumya !!
Keep up the good work !! I am planning to buy a luxury item for my wife will consider your site before buying
Thank you Ashish! Really appreciate the encouragement!
Do let me know if I can guide or help you in buying the luxury item. :)
One more added to the list of people who inspired me :)...Keep on doing good work.
Thanks Saurabh! Glad I could make a difference :)
One more feather on the cap of rodinhooders... lovely to be among you guys and I pray for success for all you guys... And wish we all be creative creators, risk takers and the game changers :)
And Soumya... keep rocking... keep inspiring.... :)
Amen! Completely second your wish. And thank you for the motivation Khizar! :)
Simply Superb Soumya....
The Kind of Experience u have been.. Keeps us inspiring . Thanks for Sharing.. Way to Go... All the Best.
Thank you Dinesh! Really appreciate the encouragement :)
It is interesting that you mention having a 'thick skin'. In my own entrepreneurial journey, I have found that initially every good news used to give me a big high, and every bad news used to give me a huge low.
After a few months of running my first startup, I started noticing and realising this trend, more than than that I started accepting that this will be a journey with daily highs and lows, unlike a regular job. And this is what makes this such a fun ride.
Keep up the good work. And enjoy the ride.
Hi Abhinav, it is a fun ride indeed. But I realised that the amount of time I ended up wasting on the leeches, I could have spent that on exploring better avenues. But in any case, even a bad incident is an experience. You learn something from everything. And through my bad experiences, I learned how to recognise who is professional and who's not. :) Thank you for wishes! And hope you have a wonderful journey too! :)