#PowerWomen: Our Vision is to Put India on the Global Map for Destination Weddings - Prerana Saxena
by Mugdha Gaonkar Industry Watch | March 2, 2021 | Interview
PowerWomen EVENTFAQS Media Prerana Saxena Theme Weavers Designs
Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series in the run-up to a virtual forum on International Women’s Day on March 8, we talk to Prerana Saxena, CEO, Theme Weavers Designs, about her journey.
With diverse and extensive event planning experience, complementing creativity and attention to detail to make every event a success, Saxena aims to design dazzling events, bringing to life each client’s vision with her company, Theme Weavers Design. Starting her career in the corporate world to being a leading name in the wedding industry, she also launched the ‘Royal Rendezvous’ – an initiative to link the wedding industry and the people of Jodhpur, creating sustainable livelihoods and protecting traditional skills and craftsmanship.
Here, she shares insights on her entry into the event industry, challenges she faced, position of women in the industry, priorities, and some advice for young women entering the events space.
HOW I CAME TO BE IN THE EVENT INDUSTRY
I come from a business family. My father thought that girls have to get married and whatever work they do would be after marriage with the husband. He never envisioned me as an entrepreneur. So, the first reason for me was trying to get out of the family and create my own identity. Then, I did my MBA; along with it I tried working with my father, but he makes machines and I thought it was really monotonous and boring. After my MBA, I worked with Khandwala Securities and Bank of Punjab. During this time, at my son's first birthday, my husband’s friend who was already doing events said, ‘Why were you looking for someone to manage this event? You have done it quite professionally.’ Then we shifted to Kolkata, and I took a break because my kids were young. But I'm the kind of person who needs to have more productive conversations than seeing what's to be cooked at home. People thought it was crazy that with a six-month-old daughter and a two-year-old son, I still wanted to do more. So, I took up on Theme Weavers. We started with organising birthdays because that's something I've been doing since childhood. We got around with word of mouth from my first event, which was for about Rs 5000, to now, when we are servicing clients who spend at least Rs 5 crore and upward.
Being from a business family, I ensure flawless delivery, value commitment to the team, because there's nothing above your commitment. If you are able to deliver your commitment, you will never have dearth of clients. We are now getting more digital and trying to focus on marketing based on feedback from our clients. We have also set up systems and processes and can scale up and take more projects at the same time. So that's been our first 13 years, and we're still growing and learning every day.
ON POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY
We need to empower women, in terms of actually telling them that you have the power to manage in a world where there are more men than women. Though the scenario is changing now, there were always more men, but I was never scared of any situation. We carried ourselves in a way that people knew that there is a line they can’t cross. I've never had incidents where I've had to shy away or say this, as my relationship with clients and vendors has always been respectful. You earn respect by the way you carry yourself. Once, I was on an island for an event all night, all alone with about 100 labourers, and I never felt unsafe as we were all focused on work. But, we have to be vigilant and do our work with equality.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN ENTERING THE EVENT INDUSTRY
I would say that it is a great place to be - there are so many opportunities. But it is not only a glamour show; there is a lot of hard work, and a lot of focus is needed. What new joinees lack sometimes is focus – they come to try it out for six months, and may think of trying something else for another six months. This is not how you can succeed here. We've been here for 13 years, and we've been always upping our game and thinking what next to do, but it's still a long way to go. So, if you're actually serious about weddings, you need to have that focus, study a lot, see what's trending not only in India but outside India too and what can be practically used here. All these things together will make sure that they succeed in the wedding segment.
TALKING POINTS AT THEME WEAVERS DESIGNS
In the middle of the COVID situation, we did one wedding for 50 people last July, and what the father told me touched my heart: ‘Prerana ji, kisi chiz ki kami mat karne dena’. While people said it’s just 100 people, why do you need to spend so much, the emotion of the client was that his daughter's wedding is not going to come again. We are into experience, design and destination weddings, and want to make sure that the experiences we create are flawless and become unforgettable for clients as well as guests.
For instance, I met a client 10 years after managing their wedding and he said, ‘What you created for us 10 years back, those trends have come in Bollywood now, you guys always look into the future.’
What's trending now is more floral. A lot of our clients are from the fashion and creative industries; that's how they get drawn towards us. So, they like to see creativity in the designs that we do and what's new is not another design from the Internet. We create a new look book every year, and release it, predicting things for the year, which can be picked up.
WHAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
Our vision is to put India on the global map for destination weddings, because the kinds of forts and palaces we have are really stunning, but the Government has not marketed them for destination weddings. Across the world, places like Bahrain or Tuscany in Italy came to us and made us experience their country. That's why we see a lot of weddings from the wedding planners there. We also had an initiative called the ‘Royal Rendezvous’ in 2019, where we called international planners across the world to Umaid Bhawan Palace to experience the kind of hospitality and luxury that we can offer. I would like India to be related to the royals, to luxury, hospitality… So that's our vision. For it, we have created a mission to have set processes and set systems, because people don’t come to India as they feel professionalism is lacking; there’s a gap between commitment and doing. Theme Weavers is trying to fill that gap. In our industry, there is a mindset that if not you, someone else will give me the job. So we are also speaking to the industry to launch it on a national platform, have a rating system, so people can be conscious about their ratings going down. That's the future that we are looking at - flawless delivery, unforgettable experience. That’s how the wedding industry can become a major contributor to wedding tourism, and to the economic situation of India.
A HISTORICAL EVENT I WOULD LIKE TO WITNESS LIVE
Celebrate Holi the way it was celebrated in the forts of Jodhpur in the bygone era! I've been to the fort and it tells me a story. We’ve also done a wedding for the royal family of Jodhpur and I've heard stories about how Holi used to be in Jodhpur.
Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series in the run-up to a virtual forum on International Women’s Day on March 8, we talk to Prerana Saxena of Theme Weavers Designs about her journey.