In conversation with Shivani Malik, Director, Da Milano, who is leading the leather brand to new heights with new launches and a unique city-specific merchandise strategy.
You’ve taken Da Milano from two stores to more than 85 with an international presence as well. What has the journey been like?
I entered the business in 2007 when Da Milano had only two stores. Today, Da Milano has more than 85 stores including operated showrooms at 21 Airports in India, 5 showrooms in the UAE and 1 in Nepal. It has been a long and fruitful journey, which is still on-going. Building a brand, sustaining it and making it robust on the pillars of impeccable product quality is a challenging task. We create personalised strategies for sales and marketing for each store. Each location has different clientele with different choices and completely different purchasing powers. What strategies, designs and promotions work in Delhi do not work in Bhopal. The styles that are preferred in Mumbai are not preferred in Chennai. We reach out to a different audience after extensive market research, especially in new regions.
Affordable Indian luxury brands were a rarity at the time when you joined Da Milano. How did you rewire mindsets and gain a large customer base for the brand?
The brand has concentrated on producing the highest quality products at an affordable price. We also focus on providing the best customer service and experience to the customer through all our touchpoints. The expectations of the customers have changed over the years and we are constantly working to meet the growing demands. We like to pamper the customer right from when they enter the store until they use our product.
How do you keep up to the customer’s expectations?
I believe that innovating new products and designs keep a brand going. Customers are looking for something new each day. They get bored easily. We launch over 300 products every season to stay on par with the latest trends. Along with providing the best quality leather goods, we firmly believe in building a good relationship with all our customers by providing after-sales services. We are the only brand in the entire country that provides lifetime service warranty.
Tell me more about Wooba. What inspired you to co-found the brand when Da Milano and Rosso Brunello were already well established?
We launched Wooba in 2007. It is a contemporary leather accessories brand, which is launched for the fashion-conscious millennials. Offering style and quality at an affordable price point, Wooba will mainly be expanded in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
What according to you, has been your greatest achievement?
When I entered the business, Da Milano had only 2 retail stores. Today, we have more than 80 stores across the county, 5 stores in Dubai and 1 in Nepal.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
There is no perfect balance between the two. The perfect balance differs for each person. Managing work and personal life is a challenging task, especially with my two kids. It is simply about priority and placement. Work has always been done in a continuous flow, and I have a great team who supports me, and I can rely on completely. There is a lot of adjusting and balancing involved in being there for your children as well as the company. It is first and foremost important to understand that as working parents we work for our children, to give them a better life and future. As parents, we are also role models for our children, and seeing us committed and passionate about work motivates them to be passionate in their work and education as well. Balancing both requires you to segregate the roles and draw a hard line between the two.
What is next on the plan?
We are working on expanding the brand internationally. We already have five stores in the UAE and one in Nepal and aim to open multiple stores in London and Singapore. We would also like to be seen on the high streets of European countries.
About Shivani Malik:
Shivani Malik, Director - Da Milano, is an Economics honour graduate from the University of Delhi. She later specialized in Economics and Finance from Warwick Business School, United Kingdom and has won several awards for entrepreneurship. She is also the director at Monsoon Kids, a school that works with underprivileged children to equip them with work skills.
She has been on the management team of Vinati Organics Limited since 2006 and balances the technical/manufacturing execution with her marketing abilities combined with new age aggression.