Companies & Sectors
“My biggest challenge is designing and sourcing my products”

“It’s not as difficult as it looks. You should have the conviction as well as a lot of self-confidence to do business”, says Amrit Borkakoty of ‘Serenity: Blissful Living’, an interior styling boutique from Mumbai

Amrit Borkakoty is the proud owner of 'Serenity: Blissful Living', a distinctive interior styling boutique at Bandra in Mumbai. A hotel management graduate from Chandigarh, Amrit has worked in marketing and public relations before shifting to Mumbai six years ago to become an entrepreneur. Focusing on her passion, with sheer hard-work and a strong belief, she has now grown to be extremely well regarded in her industry. Her business has an annual turnover of about Rs1 crore and on an average she gets 12 to 15 customers per day. (USE the LOGO with Part2 in it)

Read about her growth-story in these excerpts from an interview with Konica Bhatt of Moneylife (ML).

ML: What gave you the idea to start your own business?
Amrit Borkakoty (AB): I found my true passion for interiors when I was decorating my own home in Mumbai. Sometimes I didn't find the exact article I was looking for, or I was travelling and saw these small artefacts or souvenirs, but thought buying them would be futile. That was when I realised that if I couldn't use them, someone else could. The need to fill this niche drove me to start my own business.

ML: What was the concept behind Serenity in particular? What makes it unique?
AB: According to me, home is the best place to relax and stay calm. It is the most serene place you can be at. Here at Serenity, we want to give you the best items which reflect who you are and what give you happiness in your own home. This is how the entire concept of "serenity" began.
Also, I believe that this field is all about creating a trend… it is about art. This is what makes this shop unique. While travelling within India, I found some really great and unique items. My idea was to collect them and create something which was "made in India", so people would understand the real beauty of Indian art.

ML: Where did you first set up your business? Are there other branches elsewhere in India?
AB: Initially I set up a temporary business in Chandigarh where I have my family business. My first actual venture was in Mumbai. Given the retail scenario at the moment, I am not sure whether opening other branches, is a good idea. I am more inclined towards focussing on online retailing.

ML: What were the challenges you faced while starting the business?
AB: Right from setting up a business to running it smoothly every part in the business is a challenge. My biggest challenge is designing and sourcing my products. It is important to choose the unique products and maintain their individuality. It is very important to keep them cost-effective as well. I try to get a variety of products, which I try my best not to copy. Not to be repetitive and making sure that they are unique and cost-effective as well. That's the whole joy of it; I'm doing what I love.

ML: Did you face any problem with your staff as a female boss?
AB: I never faced any problems with my staff. They have always loved and helped me. Currently there are four employees here, and I have an understanding relationship with every one of them. We understand the importance of growing the business, yet we love to breathe. I believe as long as they are comfortable and respected, we get the work done.

ML: What were the biggest challenges you faced as a woman entrepreneur?
AB: As a woman, I was treated very well. There were times when I walked into government offices, and was treated with respect because I was a woman. In fact, it was an advantage. Especially in cities like Mumbai, women are treated with a lot of respect. And this sector is female-dominated. Probably, the only challenge I faced was that they tend to take you lightly, or take advantage of us being softer and more tolerant, unlike men. You have to keep pushing them, and they find it hard to take orders from women.

ML: How do you deal with the competition?
AB: Competition is there. You cannot kill it, change it and ignore it. I admire my competitors for their zest, creativity and imagination to put things together. It's nice to see so many people interested in these things. It gets tough when the market is slow. There are also times when people blatantly copy my designs and sell it for a cheaper price. Although it gets annoying at times, I am not too worried about it anymore. After all, imitation is a form of flattery. I just ignore it and carry on with my own business.

ML: What plans do you have for the future of your company?
AB: Right now, I'm focused on the present. My focus is on expanding sales and products. Right now I'm focusing on in-house designing, product innovation, new lines as well as starting online sales.

ML: What are your tips for women entrepreneurs trying to make it in a competitive world? What three things would you advise aspiring women entrepreneurs?
AB: The three things would be conviction, understanding and attitude. It's not as difficult as it looks. You should have the conviction as well as the understanding of how to do business. Always be sincere and honest in what you do. You also need a lot of self-confidence. There are times when someone has the conviction and passion, but lack confidence. That is when they falter in proceeding towards their aim. Ultimately, it is extremely important to stay rooted no matter how much you succeed.

(In the run up to International Women's Day on 8th March, Moneylife will run a series of Women Entrepreneurs who have made a mark. If you know women who ought to be featured in this series, do write to us with details at [email protected] . And if you are a women entrepreneur wanting to expand your business and grow, do keep in touch with our not-for-profit entity at - we have some news in store)


SEBI says whistleblower mechanism in new Code to check corporate scams

While the new Companies Act, 2013 require certain classes of companies to establish a vigil mechanism, SEBI has now decided to incorporate a provision in its new Corporate Governance Code as well for whistle blower protection


Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to make it mandatory for listed companies to have a whistle-blower mechanism for their employees and directors. This step has been taken by the market regulator amid growing number of scams related to corrupt practices in corporate India.


According to SEBI, the mechanism would also need to have necessary safeguards to protect whistle-blowers from victimisation, while checks would also be required against any misuse of this facility aimed at encouraging directors and employees to report genuine concerns and any wrongdoings at their company.


While the new Companies Act, 2013 also provides for certain classes of companies being required to establish a vigil mechanism for their directors and employees, SEBI has now decided to incorporate a provision in this regard in its new Corporate Governance Code for listed firms.


The Code has been approved by the SEBI board and would be soon notified by the regulator.


According to an internal document prepared by SEBI on this issue, a proposal to make whistle-blower mechanism compulsory for listed companies has been favoured by a vast majority.


The proposal received 19 comments in its favour and just one against it, SEBI said.


The whistle-blower mechanism, popular in many developed nations, provides an opportunity for employees to report any misdoings within their company.


SEBI's Primary Markets Advisory Committee (PMAC) in fact recommended that the whistle blower mechanism should be made available to all employees, as well as other stakeholders of the company. It also suggested that the whistle blower policy of the company should be widely publicised to the target segments.


SEBI, however, concluded that the mechanism would ideally be kept open only for internal stakeholders such as employees and directors.


"Other external stakeholders are not totally within the powers of the company and have other avenues for redressal of their concerns. Hence, the proposal may be aligned with the Companies Act, 2013 and whistle blowing mechanism may be restricted to directors and employees only," SEBI said.


At present, a listed company may establish a mechanism for employees to report to the management, their concerns about unethical behaviour, actual or suspected fraud or violation of the company's code of conduct or ethics policy.


However, it is currently not mandatory for companies to have a whistle blower mechanism.


CCEA clears GlaxoSmithKline's Rs6,400 crore FDI proposal

After the purchase, promoter group holding in GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals will go up to 75% from the current 50.67% stake


The Indian government on Thursday cleared a foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal worth Rs6,400 crore of healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline to acquire additional 24.33% stake in its India unit.


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the proposal of Singapore-based GlaxoSmithKline Pte Ltd for acquisition of 24.33% shares in its existing Indian subsidiary GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals.


The said acquisition "would be done by way of a voluntary open offer under SEBI (SAST Regulations) in the pharmaceutical sector," an official statement said.


"The approval would result in foreign investment of approximately Rs6,390 crore in the country," the statement added.


GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals is already majority owned and controlled by the GSK Group.


After the purchase, holding of the promoter group firm in the Indian subsidiary will go up to 75% from the current level of 50.67%.


GSK Pharma makes, distributes and trades in a variety of drugs. Its portfolio include prescription medicines and vaccines across areas such as anti-infectives, dermatology, and gynaecology.


The company employs more than 5,000 people and generated more than Rs2,600 crore turnover during the financial year ended 31 December 2012.


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