Indian woman leaders have been making news for their incredible contrition towards the international luxury & fashion scene for last few years. To celebrate these woman leaders who are breaking stereotypes and rising beyond borders, we have assembled the journey of 10 influential woman leaders who have made their mark in the luxury & fashion industry with sheer dedication, consistency and confidence.
Making headlines in the later half of 2021, the first female and the youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer at FMCG major Unilever, Leena Nair has joined the French luxury fashion group Chanel as its Global CEO.
Nair’s professional journey spans for around 30 years. Joining Hindustan Unilever Ltd as a management trainee in 1992, Leena Nair was among the few female employees at that time to have opted for factory roles. She was later appointed as the factory personnel manager of Lipton India Ltd as well. In 1996, she was appointed as an Employee Relations Manager by HUL, and was elevated as an HR manager of Hindustan Lever India by 2000. In the 2004, Nair was appointed as general manager Human Resource of ‘home and personal care India’ by the corporation, and was further promoted as general manager Human Resource in the 2006.In 2007, she assumed the charge of executive director Human Resource of HUL, and in 2013, she was elevated as Unilever’s senior vice president, HR, responsible for leadership and organizational development of the corporation. She also took over as the global head of diversity for HUL the same year.
Also Read: Managing Finance In Sports Post The Pandemic
Before graduating from XLRI – Xavier School of Management as the gold medalist, Nair had studied Electronics and Telecommunication engineering at Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli.
Masaba Gupta, an Indo-Caribbean fashion designer started her own brand, House of Masaba in 2009 after graduation. An icon for fashion aspirants of the present time, Masaba is credited for transforming the face of fashion ever since her promising debut at the Lakme Fashion Week at the age of 19. With decade long experience, Masaba Gupta is revered globally as the ‘Queen of Prints’ and has also won the spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in the year 2017.
Masaba Gupta’s designs mostly got popular because of their quirky and experimental styles that broke stereotypes with a unique and fuss-free silhouettes for modern Indian women. With its anytime anywhere collections, House of Masaba has made a broad portfolio with destination wedding collections, festive wear, party collections and resort wear, all rendered in the brand’s signature colours i.e motifs and aesthetics.
Masaba Gupta has introduced a line of exclusive beauty products featuring her signature bold prints in a popular collaboration with Nykaa with the Masaba by Nykaa limited edition series. The Masaba by Nykaa Kit includes a range of fragrances, nail paints, lipsticks and other makeup essentials.
House of Masaba collections have built a significant presence in both, online & offline retail space catering to women with experimental style sense and firm cultural roots, especially during the post Covid phase.
Masaba Gupta is the first and the only Indian designer to have a series dedicated entirely on her life called Masaba Masaba. This Netflix series is inspired by her own personal life and fashion journey that also celebrates her unique and special bond with her mother and veteran actress Neena Gupta. Masaba won critics acclaim for her pleasantly refreshing scenes in the series reflecting her multifaceted creativity and talent.
Kalyani Saha Chawla
Kalyani Saha Chawla’s crystal clear insights into the world of style, her love of art and a strong sense of aesthetic couture helped her to be recognized as a prominent figure within the Indian fashion industry. She was initially appointed Dior’s brand ambassador in 2006, coinciding with the launch of the label’s first store in the capital city of Delhi. Ever since, she has played an integral role in building the brand’s growing network.
An experienced retail and manufacturing entrepreneur, Chawla began her career as a marketing representative and correspondent for the national daily, The Indian Express. Chawla looked after the publisher’s four magazines after her graduation.
After operating a leather crafting business and jewellery boutique in Calcutta, Chawla moved to Dehli in late 1990s and launched her own leather good exporting company. It was during an encounter with Regis Rimbert, the former general manager of LVMH in West Asia and India, Chawla was approached to serve as a brand ambassador and work on press and communications for the brand, Dior.
Leaving Dior in 2016, Chawla launched her e-commerce fashion platform, Lulu and Sky with business partner Tina Antoniades.
The founder and CEO of Nykka, Falguni Nayar is one of the few Indian women to start and lead a tech company worth more than $1 billion that soar to $14 billion, eleven times the valuation in its last private funding round in 2020.
Nayar founded Nykka in 2012, at a time when most Indians bought make-up products at local mom-and pop stores, but were still not so accustomed to the idea of shopping online.
Nykaa, now offers over 4,000 brands on its site. It recorded 24.5 billion rupees in revenue in the fiscal year ended in March.
An alumnus of Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, Nayar has been announced as India’s wealthiest self-made female billionaire, according to Bloomberg.
Farah Khan Ali
Prominent jewellery designer, Farah Khan Ali started her career in jewelry designing by launching her own brand ‘Farah Khan Fine Jewellery ‘in 2004. She has been designing jewellery for India’s top business families and famous Bollywood stars. Apart from designing for international brand ‘Swarovski’, she showcased her designs at The Indian International Film Awards’ tenth anniversary in 2009 at Macau, where more than ten Bollywood celebrities wore jewelry designed by her on the Green Carpet.
The Lions Gold club awarded Farah Khan Ali with the ‘Best Jewellery Designer Award’ in 2010. Farah was also voted as “Innovative Leadership in Luxury Brands Concept 2015’ by Network 7 Media Group’s India Leadership Conclave 2015 Edition.
Farah went to Sophia College at Mumbai for her Bachelor’s of Arts degree. Initially, she was not sure about what she wanted to pursue as a career and tried her luck in several area including ad films, television production, and interior designing. Farah joined a course in Gemology from prestigious Gemological Institute of America with her in California from where she graduated in 1993 with the badge of topping the class.
Suparna Mitra is the Chief Executive Office of the Watches and Wearables Division of Titan Company Limited. Having an extensive business experience, mainly in the lifestyle & retail marketing area, Suparna Mitra started her career as a management trainee in Hindustan Lever Limited.
Mitra worked on several roles in marketing, both International and Domestic at Titan. After Titan he joined Talisma Corp. as a Director – Product Marketing. Later she moved on to become the Business Head of Lee in Arvind Brands Ltd. After working with Arvind Brands Limited, she rejoined Titan and became its Global Marketing Head, taking care of all marketing in India and abroad.
Her last assignment was as the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for the Watches and Wearables division of Titan.
Suparna Mitra did her electrical engineering from Jadavpur University and an MBA from IIM, Calcutta.
Also Read: 5 Emerging Careers In Sports Management
Bollywood lovers know Gauri Khan as the doting wife of superstar Shah Rukh Khan. However, very few know the fact that apart from being the wife of the King Khan of Bollywood, Gauri has a prominent identity of her own. With her background in design and passion a for art and painting, Gauri took the plunge and refurbished their luxurious residence, Mannat . The US$27 million residence took 10 years to build and features life-size Hindu statues, crystal chandeliers and plenty of amenities such as a gym, library, boxing ring, tennis court and auditorium, according to Vogue India.
Considered to be Asia’s most expensive house Antelia is said to be the topmost projects in Gauri Khan’s career in interior designing. From designing fashion designer, Manish Malhotra’s newly launched showroom to Jaqueline Fernandez’s super cozy apartment in Mumbai, Gauri has a wide range of eclectic portfolios to enthrall with. In 2017, Gauri launched her flagship store, Gauri Khan Designs in Juhu, Mumbai, which carries homeware accents from international designers like Roberto Cavalli and Ralph Lauren. According to Bollywood Shaadis, Gauri Khan Designs has a value of US$20 million making her one of the most sought after personalities in the space of luxury & fashion.
Founder of Luxury Ayurveda brand, Forest Essentials, Mira Kulkarni opened her very first store of the brand in 2000 in Delhi. A part of Mountain Valley Springs Forest Essentials has only grown ever since and has opened 71 stores across India and more than 120 countries so far. Forest Essentials is also readying for international expansion with the backing of investor Estée Lauder’s global distribution network, creative resources, and operational expertise.
Also Read: Sustainable Fashion For A Better Tomorrow
Over the years, Mira Kulkarni has guided Forest Essentials to stay focused on its own growth through deployment of its own strategy. The company added 21 new flagship stores in various cities between July 2020 and August 2021 to meet rising demand of their products. Change in consumption patterns post Covid, in addition to a new bespoke service, timely do-it-yourselves and expert talks on the brand’s Instagram page have led to a 300% rise in digital sales. Forest Essentials products are shipped to more than 100 countries abroad at present.
Known for her sober personality, Bollywood Actor Katrina Kaif launched India’s first celebrity makeup brand, Kay Beauty in 2019. The line was created in partnership with leading lifestyle retailer, Nykaa, with a vision to deliver high-performance, long-lasting, ultra-glam makeup products that cater to all types of Indian skin.
Celebrating a year of success, the actor turned entrepreneur, Katrina Kaif recently signed an agreement to invest in Nykaa through a secondary transaction. Kaif’s investment is in alignment with Nykaa’s vision of becoming India’s most trusted and dynamic retailer and Kay Beauty’s aim to become a full-fledged beauty brand in the coming years.
Coinciding with the first anniversary of Kay Beauty, Kaif also unveiled a campaign titled “KAYCONVERSATIONS” that features a series of inspiring stories of women who have stood out with their inner beauty and resilience crushing stereotypes against women and their looks.
Tina Tahiliani Parikh
Tina Tahiliani Parikh is the executive director of Ensemble, India’s first designer multi-brand store. Set up by Tarun Tahiliani and his wife Sailaja in 1987, under Tahiliani Parikh’s leadership, Ensemble has grown from a single unit into a powerhouse of fashion, with its boutiques in Mumbai and Delhi.
A graduate of Stanford University, Tina Tahiliani Parikh started her career in San Francisco as a financial analyst with the First Boston Corporation, one of America’s leading investment banks. Parikh returned to India in 1990 to take over merchandising, finance, marketing, operations and strategic direction of Ensemble.
Parikh has a crucial role in streamlining operations at Ensemble and is credited with launching the careers of Indian designers, such as Rohit Khosla, Abu Jani and Suneet Varma. Today, Ensemble is firmly established in the forefront of the Indian fashion industry and stocks collections of several leading contemporary designers.