Sharanjit Kaur talks about how she moved out of a demanding job in IT/Banking to find her own calling as an entrepreneur in the field of personalized dressing.
Sharan exudes a quiet confidence as she talks passionately about her childhood connection with her hobby: sewing. She reminisces, “Sewing has been a passion ever since I can remember… we had a sewing machine at home and my mother would make dresses for us. My earliest memories date back to the days of ‘Usha’ machine with a foot pedal and helping my mum cut patterns for our daily wear. I knew I had a flair for it, but formal education in India did not leave much room for pursuing your hobbies.”
With the blink of an eye, she was a University graduate and had moved to London. Naturally, life was fast paced with a demanding job at one of the top 4 management consultancies. Sewing was no longer in the frame of hobbies as all her free time was taken up at the tennis court, or in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. She says, “My husband and I used to be intrepid hikers. Our love for the mountains led us to look at Switzerland as our next destination. And when the opportunity presented itself, I could not resist it. I took up a job at a leading Swiss bank.”
Rekindling her passion to sew
Motherhood then came her way as Sharan and Vikas were blessed with two children – in Switzerland, this meant taking a short career break. “That’s when my passion for sewing came to the fore again and I bought my first sewing machine. I needed to stitch a huge number of curtains for our new apartment. Curtains led to pillow cases and duvet covers, and soon I found myself making dresses for myself. This was a good distraction from changing diapers and cleaning feeding bottles of my sons. After a break of nearly two years, I went back to a demanding job again. I had experienced the inexpressible satisfaction of being able to pursue my passion – and I wasn’t ready to leave that behind. So this time, I did not leave behind sewing! ”
Turning a hobby into an alternative career
As time went by, Sharan’s husband Vikas gave a structure to her passion and laid down the stepping-stones for her to reach her goals. With this, ‘Siyona’s Designs’ was born.
“To be professionally successful at selling your designs, I needed to get the finesse into what I had been doing so far. I spent a few years attending evening sessions after work, learning the intricacies of fashion, understanding fabric, the relationship between colours and personalities. My friends supported and encouraged me to continue working on my passion, even though it was tough. In fact, the models you see on the web page are all our friends. The photographs are also clicked by a friend.”
A year later, Sharan made her first piece – a bridesmaid dress for a good friend.
“Word spread at my workplace and I ended up making two more wedding dresses, and this time, it was purely professional. These women had come to me because they had seen what I could do.”
Gaining confidence and keeping it unique
“Wedding dresses are not the easiest. Not just because of the material detail, but also because of the huge sentimental value they provide the wearer. They have to be perfect” she says, adding, “I was terrified at the thought that on a given day people would be looking at only one person – the bride, and to dress her up was my job!”
That’s when Sharan realised the serious edge that her business could be proud of – and that was personalization. “At Siyona’s, the dress is composed for the wearer. We have sessions to discuss the occasion, the fabric, color, pattern followed by trial sessions. Women often have a particular design or style in mind, but it can be quite tedious to find what one needs and fits perfectly. This is where Siyona’s steps in to create that dream outfit – exclusively for the wearer.”
All of her creations are handmade from her atelier at her Swiss residence. Every item is made to precise measurements, personalized for each individual, keeping their styles and personality in mind. She adds, “I provide suggestions and recommendations on fabrics, colour and cuts based on the individual’s silhouette. If one desires, I am ready to experiment with east-west fusions, be it a pleated frock dress in a handwoven *Ikat fabric, a shift dress in an embroidered **Chikan fabric, or a ***Kalamkari printed culottes. These are not easy to find in Zurich and are quite unique.”
With success and a positive feedback coming her way, in 2016, Sharan quit her fulltime job to do “the things I love to do, rather than ‘have’ to do” she says, smiling.
So if it’s personalized dressing and outfit consultation you’re looking for, feel free to visit:www.siyona-designs.com; or contact Sharanjit on her Facebook page.
* Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employ resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing
and weaving the fabric.
** Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from India.
*** Kalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile.