Shreya Sharma graduated from London College of Fashion in 2016. Since then she’s gone on to set up her own business, Bombay Lifestyle Co., a contract manufacturing company for textiles and textiles commodities. We chatted with her to find out more about her time at UAL and how she has found starting her own company.
Why did you choose UAL, and particularly LCF to study at?
After I finished my schooling in India, I wanted to study Design but I was unsure about my specialisation and therefore chose to study at UAL since it is one the leading specialised university across the globe with 6 esteemed colleges under it; one of them being LCF. I was enrolled in the International Preparation for Fashion Foundation course in my first year of study which helped me decide what I wanted to actually take up as my Degree course. After my interview and various projects, I started the B.A in Menswear and there has been no looking back from then.
What were your highlights from your time at LCF?
With a great multicultural environment I made friends around the globe and after two years I can say that they are in a good position in their life after studying at LCF. During my time at LCF, I spent a lot of time in the Library which gave a better perspective of my subjects. The fact that LCF has hired industry leaders for teaching has an added advantage because they give us training with a very practical approach to prepare us for our future. Everything was hands-on practical learning and nothing was spoon-fed which acts as an advantage for us to become independent.
P.S: Hilary Hann and Tom Adams were the best teachers anybody could ask for! I absolutely love them.
What have you been up to since graduating?
After my graduation, I decided to take time off and live in Dubai, U.A.E with my parents for a very short while to figure what I wanted to do next and spend time with my family since I did not get that chance for 4 years of my time at university.
I started to apply for jobs globally and I was hired by one of the top couture houses in India. I worked there for a year; which helped me understand various aspects of running a design house. It was an extremely great learning experience but it also helped me decide and clear my mind of what I wanted.
Two years after graduation and great learning experiences: I started my own company – Bombay Lifestyle Co.
Can you tell me more about Bombay Lifestyle Co?
Bombay Lifestyle Co. is a contract manufacturing company of textile and textile commodity. We do wholesale exports of various different products such as pillows, rugs, garments, throws, quilts etc. We showcase at trade fairs around the globe, with Melbourne, Australia being our first at the Decor + Design Show.
Our products are handmade using techniques like block printing, screen printing, and embroidery from India. We practice fair trade and care about the process as much as the final product. Our products are affordable, organic luxury and cater mostly to luxury boutique hotels and interior designers.
What have been the challenges and successes of setting up your own company?
To start with challenges; I would say that running your own business makes you responsible for every aspect of the brand be it design, marketing, growth, profit or branding. You have to wear all the hats yourself and you have to keep a track of all the departments by making it cohesive and maintaining a sense of unity for the business as a whole and its people who make it work to move forward. Another important challenge would be for you to be a visionary with extremely strong decision-making powers.
Successes: I always believe in learning and giving responsibility to people who do it the best. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses; at Bombay Lifestyle Co. we distribute the responsibility to people who know how the work can be done best and maybe that is the reason why we have received great response from people since we have started. Distributing responsibility has given us a positive output.
Your own business gives you a sense of freedom at the same time makes you accountable for everything. You are your own boss and there are very high levels of personal fulfilment at the end of the day. Every day I am happy to go to work and make it work.
What is next for you?
We are in talks with a few luxury boutique hotels and interior designers for a few projects in line and we are preparing for trade fairs; hopefully, Dubai and Germany being our next target.