When Roshni Shewakramani started to grow her family, she noticed a gap in the market: “Neither glamorous maternity wear, nor wearable children’s fashion was well represented.” Using her educational background in fashion coupled with her career experience at Chalboub Group, Shewakramani decided to launch Smitten Boutique. Describing it as a “one-stop shop for trendy mothers and their little ones”, Shewakramani is proud of Smitten Boutique’s agenda to keep up with trends without compromising comfort. Describing an entrepreneur as a “creator, a discoverer and fixated,” the founder advises ‘treps to do their research, “make the right associations, and shine bright.” The biggest lesson she has gleaned from starting her own venture? “Be open to ideas, talk to your team and most importantly to your clients,” and “try and translate that into all aspects of the business.”
What’s one thing you make sure you do for your company to run efficiently?
We follow a timetable: children’s wear and maternity follow two seasons- Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. So pretty much everything revolves around that. Buying season is the busiest, as we put in our order for future collections. Followed by deliveries of current season, merchandising and planning of events and marketing campaigns.
What moment in your career was the most discouraging?
When I started out with the concept of Smitten. Initially I had not given branding much importance four years ago, so the response was underwhelming. However once, that changed, we have experienced positive growth.
What is your source of personal motivation?
Seeing a happy client. Nothing beats that! When I meet customers inside or outside the store, and hearing positive or even negative comments, gets me extremely charged!
What do you think about the state of mom/toddlers fashion boutiques in the UAE?
It’s an exciting time for the retail industry in the UAE. Lots of interesting, artistic spaces are coming up where the owners are involved in each aspect. By giving personal attention to it, shopping is much more of an experience now than ever before.
Who do you think is a great entrepreneur in the MENA region?
I would like to stay within the industry, and say my friend Saima Khan, founder of Cheeky Monkey Play Areas. She is so inspiring, and I love her passion and knowledge for all things related to children’s entertainment.
Which MENA country, in your opinion, do you think has the most supportive SME space?
Dubai is a great space for new concepts and cutting-edge business ideas that SMEs are known for. I believe the next space would be Kuwait; I would like to plan something there next.
In your opinion, how much “risk-taking” personality characteristic is involved in being an entrepreneur?
There is a fair amount, however with clever planning and starting out slow the financial risks can be minimized. I think patience is the most important characteristic required for an entrepreneur.
What is your daily routine like?
In one word– hectic. It starts with school drop-off, followed by a workout. Around 10 a.m., I reach the store at Dubai Marina Mall, chat with my manager and plan out the next few days. I pick up my younger one at 2 p.m., we stick around in school until my daughter gets done at 3 p.m. usually reading in the library, or enjoying the playground. This is then followed by their extra-curricular activities, homework and piano practice. Once the kids are tucked in, my husband Nilesh and I catch up with friends over a dinner or a movie. We usually wrap up by midnight.
What device or apps do you often use?
My Kindle Paperwhite is my permanent companion. On my iPhone, I have my workout apps (makes booking classes super easy). I have a meditative app called Headspace, it’s simply fab! And then the usual suspects like Uber (lifesaver), Instagram (addiction) and Deezer.