Inspired by the rich traditional craft of India-Sunita’s work is a combination of a unique sensibility, especially in tone and texture. They have an earthy ethnicity with a modern interpretation. Her work epitomizes simplicity with careful detailing. Especially hand-woven fabrics are used thereby promoting the handloom with style. The resulting garment evokes a sense of culture from where it originates. Her clothes are original contemporary while at the same time pushing forward the traditional skills.
How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Sunita Shankar, I graduated in 1990 and I always looked forward to becoming a designer I worked with various export houses, and that is the how I started and in 1993 few good happened and I decided in 1994 that I will launch my label, and I have experience of more than 23 years in craft sector.
From where did you complete your schooling?
My schooling is from Delhi, as far as aspiration goes I was science student and then I got economic honors, I am an economic honor dropout. You might think that’s a complete change but I know a lot of people who had given up medicine or engineering and taken up fashion. I think all of this has got to do with parent and the family and I think people also realize the potential in this field, so there is a whole lot of possibilities.
Being a science student why you didn’t go for engineering or medical?
I don’t think I could have gone because I was creative and I was always eager to learn something new or I like anything which is far more challenging. But when I think what I could have taken up, it probably would have been history or art histories that interest me a lot or literature for that matter.
Would you like to tell us about your internships? How much do you think internship matters?
At my time in college, I used to hate internships because I went to an export house, very well established but it became very boring. In the export house you have to coordinate with the designers and it basically a coordination job. Internships I realized I didn’t want to do but now when I am getting into exports I think may I should have been a little more serious about the internships because it could have helped me a little bit more. But maybe in my case I see I don’t indulge in much of export as of now so it is a different ball game altogether, but I feel doing an internship with anyone is very important because it always helps you get a chance to learn things. Whether it is your area of interest or not but you get chance learns things. You have to be open to things because by doing so you will be able to get well versed with the change.
Do you think being in such a profession is very hectic and you don’t get enough free time to learn new things?
No, I don’t think so. I am glad that I came into crafts because it got me so open to the whole of the idea that was waiting to be opened, that today I could incorporate something like the corporate system and organize production for my crafts because I have the understanding of how things work. So, how you organize things depends upon your expertise. So I think it was not at all burdensome and being in this field did help me a lot because apart from crafts I got to learn more things corporate system and organization skill.
Is it important to go for masters in this field?
Nowadays it is very important to specialize because it helps you to focus, in my time I would say we gained with our experience I mean no one could overlook the kind of experience we had. Now you need to specialize and you need to be thorough with what you learned.
Do you think college had prepared you sufficiently for the various tasks that you undertake today?
I think it’s anywhere, you go to any kind of college any course you take up, you grow after you college. Experience helps you to grow, the more you get experienced the more you grow. The knowledge imparted by the college is definitely there but theoretical knowledge alone is not sufficient, practical experience has to be there.
How much grades matters in this field?
According to me, grades are not the right measure to check the ability of the student, maybe I am not looking certain factors of the grading system but still, I don’t think grades are the proper measure of student’s ability. A lot of time I get interns who are academically very bright but in practical life, I find them stupid. So I don’t think we should lay too much emphasis on the grading system. The true ability is how you go about things in real life, how much effort you put in, all these factors determine one’s ability.
What you like to tell us about the complexities and intricacies involved in starting your own label
Well, I am just wondering if everybody becomes a designer, everybody starts making suits then who is going to buy and who is going to sell. So, every job has so many aspects, imagine an architect building a structure so in the process he generates so many jobs for like, people who deal with raw material, people who work as labours, people who are dealing with interiors. So you have to see which aspect of fashion in which you land into. It is not that everybody becomes a designer you have to specialize to understand where can you be a part of the whole system. Figure out the different part of the system, for example, there is courier system everywhere but there is a lot of delicate things of fashion related stuff in transit and in the process, the material could get destroyed so start a courier company especially for the need of the fashion designers. And this is just an example there are a lot of different aspects involved in it, so you can look for lot of aligned services. So don’t restrict yourself to just one thing keep looking for more things keep on expanding your horizons. This is a problem in India, so don’t restrict yourself to just one thing.
What are attributes that determine one’s success in this field?
You have to be ready to work hard if you want to grow, it’s about anyone who is successful in any field they could become successful because they were willing to work hard even under extreme conditions. The successful people are always to try new things and they are never complacent and unfortunately in our country complacency is a huge problem.
What is your advice to those who want to start their own label?
First, get experienced and then start.
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