Forging ahead with more than 1000 brands under her belt
Meet Monisha Gidwani, CEO of Vimonisha Exhibitions the brand strategist and marketing guru behind Chennai’s most sought after fashion exhibition.
Beginning their 25 year incredible journey in Chennai with exhibitions curated by the mother daughter duo Vimal Shivdasani and Monisha Gidwani from the modest but hugely popular Vimonisha Gallery, which was a favourite shopping haunt spot for the fashionably forward and designer aspiring Chennai-ite, to the dazzling grandeur of Vimonisha’s current exhibitions held thrice a year at the Hyatt it has been an incredible and inspiring journey. Today Vimonisha Exhibitions has earned itself the ubiquitous reputation of being the leading exhibition in Chennai where ladies flock in hoardes to get their bit of fashion therapy.
Armed with a MBA and years of experience in the marketing industry in several mncs, Monisha Gidwani was responsible for the exponential growth in the business that her mother had started. From handling single designer clients to about 5 at the gallery today Vimonisha Exhibitions promotes more than 65 designers each time.
How did the journey begin, what prompted you to begin promoting designers at a time 25 years back when Chennai was no where on the fashion map?
Well, that was certainly foresight- my mother used to work for business India magazine, and when she would promote the advertisements she struck upon the thought that “seeing is believing”, and felt that if consumers could actually see what was being marketed in the age of no internet and electronic media, they would be convinced to buy it. So she invested in Vimonisha Gallery , started inviting designers and clients to Chennai, to display their products and soon Vimonisha was seen as a launch pad where visitors would see new stuff all the time, and the rest is history.
How did you decide to join and expand the business?
I always had a flair for fashion, was always complimented on my aesthetic taste, and was a marketing professional by education. My first job from management school was Arvind Mills, where I was trained in a mill right from the blow room , through spinning yarn, dying and weaving, and printing and I learnt all about count and construction of fabric and the entire process. . I moved on as marketing manager with Zodiac where I learnt a lot about design of garments, and quality of fabric. After my stint with Australian giant Fosters I felt it was the right time to join the business as I had the unique combination of technical knowledge of fabric and had mastered the art of advertisement, branding and promotion. This was a unique skill and I think still is.. as no other fashion exhibition organiser in the country is able to feel a fabric and deconstruct it and analyse it and appreciate it the way I can. And that is why I am able to identify good quality fabric, and design, and then promote the brand too. That is essentially the USP of Vimonisha .. having the discerning eye to identify the best brands and then have the skill and know- how to promote them well and undertake their branding activities.
So besides offering them a booth at your popular exhibition what else do you offer to the client?
Vimonisha Exhibtions offers a wide range of services from development of communication strategy, through executional planning and implementation, branding exercises that create top of mind awareness for the brand and advertising and promotional plans through social media and mass media contests to induce trial and purchase, and finally brand loyalty activities.PR too is our forte and we have helped launch many a label at Vimonisha over the 25 years.
What is equally important is visitor promotion activities to keep the target audience coming into the show time and again, keeping the interest alive time and again with innovative promotions, newer designs, and bigger data bases. That is the name of the game.
So, these are value added services?
Yes, when a designer signs up with us it is a total solution that we offer.. a platform to springboard their business in the south of india, and create brand building activities nation wide. We provide them the impetus to their business by providing the right marketing mix to promote their brand for them. This is where my experience comes in, and we are effectively able to build a base for them with regards to whole salers, large buying houses, network of boutiques across south india besides just the retail sale at the exhibition per se. So although its primarily a b2c show , it provides the necessary platform to surge the brand’s business to the next level.
You seem to have your plate full.. what do you do in your spare time?
Well, I enjoy running , and have done a few 21k half marathons and 10k runs.. I am a certified scuba diver, and I do yoga- besides that I unwind by spending time with family and friends like everyone else- I am a people’s person and destresss by socialising and hanging out with my friends. I wake very early around 4 am, so I guess that gives me a head start over others. When the day is packed I use this time to answer emails and messages and do the strategy work required before a show.
Future plans are?
WE are looking to expand our business in Dubai, Abu Dabi, Singapore etc. and are looking for right partners in this direction. Also our vimonisha exhibition page and website sees a lot of activity so we are also offering branding solutions , and social media activities to clients who don’t necessarily take up a booth at the events.
Vimonisha’s next event is on 31st July & 1st Aug 2017 at Hyatt Regancy- The Vimonisha Festive and Bridal Designer Exhibition. 9820043549 www.vimonisha.com
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
We are currently working on the next two shows in August and December this year and a wedding summit to coincide with the fashion expo
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Convincing designers that Chennai is a good market for them
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Actually getting india’s top designers together each time in chennai and putting our city on the fashion map of india
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I would follow my passion of theatre- in some way – acting directing, and maybe would have become a scuba diving instructor
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother- Mrs. Vimal Shivdasani who began this business 26 years ago. She had the vision , and was one of India’s first entrepreneaurs in chennai.
What does the future hold for you?
Moving towards brand and label consulting for clients and helping them build their brands in this competitive industry