How Rupal Borge Directs Marketing and Content Strategy at Indian Occasion-Wear Label Krèsha Bajaj
Give us an example of an individual with a linear career journey in the fashion industry, we’ll wait. More often than not, it takes various internships, a few eye-opening experiences and a ‘hallelujah’ moment before figuring what exactly it is within the fashion universe that you’d love to do.
And that’s exactly what happened with Rupal Borge, a NIFT alumni and digital whiz who is currently working as the Marketing and Content Strategist at the one of the most whimsical occasion-wear labels out there in the Indian market – Krèsha Bajaj (best known for its Lovestory Lehenga and princess-like creations). Having ample experience within styling, communications and design – Mumbai-based Borge made it a point to try virtually everything under the sun post-graduation before settling on marketing, a domain that combines creativity and an analytical approach.
We talk about what it was like to land this coveted position in the middle of a pandemic (proof that it’s possible to get a job in the current scenario) and how her past experiences in the industry helped shape her current skill-set. Borge lets us in on why marketing is so much more of a numbers game than it seems and defines the ever so elusive ‘brand direction’ that steers the boat when it comes to creating striking campaigns and engaging digital content at Krèsha Bajaj.
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an almost 24-year-old who hails from the Oxford of the East as some might say! I’ve stayed in Pune throughout my schooling post which I moved to pursue graduation in design at National Institute of Fashion Technology. I started my official journey in fashion as an intern at The Loom – a platform that curates hand-crafted products representing the best of design and art in the country. I worked there as a junior stylist which was an exhilarating experience for me and soon tables turned when I had to step into the role of the Head Stylist as the individual who held the position formerly had to leave unexpectedly. There was no turning back and I learnt everything hands on in the absence of a mentor. Sourcing, casting models and other tasks was new for me, but I just went with the flow and trusted the process. I looked up to Aman and Komal Goel (co-founders of The Loom) for any doubts I had along the way.
But the best part was when my first ever campaign, that I single-handedly managed, went live and turned out to be Loom’s best-selling collection at the time. So I guess everything just fell into place for me in the end! Hereafter I did a few stints here and there, from being a Communication Designer at Cultre Boat, to a Social Media and Art Director at The Loom (I went back to where I started from for my first ever paid job) and even designing social media strategies for Studio Click India, I learnt several things to get a good understanding of the Indian market through my work.
Apart from that I have always been an individual with a knack for finding inspiration everywhere. I enjoy singing, cooking and writing in my free time. I have a huge travel bug – I’m more of a spontaneous backpacker rather than a fancy resort traveler mostly because I enjoy seeing the beauty of things in its raw form.
Q. What is your earliest memory of engaging in fashion and what made you take it up as a career?
I think I’ve always had an instant connect with anything related to fashion/arts since childhood. I would love to observe my mom getting ready whenever she headed out and was inclined towards sketching outfits at the back of all my notebooks (for which I used to get in trouble all the time with my Math’s teacher!). I just knew that being a fashion designer was what I wanted.
Q. How important is fashion education according to you? Do you borrow learnings from your time at NIFT and apply it in your professional life?
It’s always better to have an idea of what you’re getting into and knowledge is the biggest tool around. Fashion education is an important aspect to understand the practical aspects of this field, but only when combined with creativity and talent that fuels your vision to get to the crux of things. My mentors guided me throughout, allowing full freedom to explore all aspects of design, management and communications over the four years.
From hand-stitching leather bags and journalism to photography and styling, the list goes on. We travelled extensively for our projects with the Ministry of Textiles, and have been a part of countless fairs, trade shows, and college trips to several locations (including Nepal) to understand and study various types of crafts and cultures. Learnings from my time at NIFT have been such an imperative aid in dealing with pressure situations at work.
Q. What exactly does your role entail as a Marketing and Content Strategist at Krèsha Bajaj?
My role majorly revolves around how to communicate the brand’s voice to the audience and I work more in the digital space which requires a lot of research and ideation – we have to crack the code in order to understand how should we communicate a product/service the way one would perceive it. It does not end there! The most important part in your marketing is the content. I plan, conceptualize and develop what should be communicated through the mentioned platforms and then chart out a plan that defines it in a detailed manner.
Q. What sort of projects have you worked on at Krèsha Bajaj so far? Can you take us through its implementation?
So what we have been working on is launching super soon! Our brand is inspired by the underwater world, so naturally it is the major source of many ideas that emerge. With each of our collection, the focus is on narrating a new story and we plan our entire communication strategy whilst keeping this story as the main protagonist. Then we follow the usual process of brainstorming, trial and error and gathering as much perspective as possible from each member of the team. Quality matters the most, and Krèsha Bajaj’s beautifully hand embroidered garments reflect that so it’s only natural that we highlight the same via our messaging. The truth is that it takes erroneous months of blood, sweat and tears which often goes unnoticed as it’s all about the power of the resulting image.
Q. What exactly does ‘brand direction’ mean and how do you go about determining it?
Brand direction is an overview of everything the brand needs to do in order to survive in the market and stay ahead of its competitors. This includes the entire plan of action for a company and goes way beyond just the creative angle or creating a communication design. Ample research and a good understanding of your niche, the target audience, their interests, and most importantly the mission of the brand comes in play when determining this.
Q. Marketing’s analytical side is often overlooked in favour of the creative aspect. What are some of the analytical aspects of your role at Krèsha Bajaj (if any)?
When you design, you design for the people. When a communication plan has been designed it is always devised keeping in mind the desired result that needs to be objectively evaluated – be it a women’s day campaign, sales target to be achieved or analyzing engagement – was the output as per the aim that was set? And this can be answered only by recording analytics, pointing out what the audience liked, measuring which factors brought about brand engagement and which pieces of content didn’t perform as expected.
Q. You studied design and started as a stylist, what factors made you want to shift to the marketing side of fashion?
Honestly it was a mere case of one thing leading onto another. I have always had a keen eye for business but I do not hail from a business background, so curiosity propelled me forward in pursuing it. Numbers excite me as much as my artistic instincts do! I also feel that Fashion Marketing in India needs to progress hence I wanted to contribute to it and be part of the change.
Q. How did you land this position in the midst of an unstable job market and what advice would you give to those looking for employment in the Indian fashion industry in current circumstances?
As cliché as it sounds, nothing is impossible when you love what you do and believe in yourself plus what you have to offer. After a lot of hits and misses, this job came to me at a very unexpected point in my life but changed things for good. I remember applying to various places where I would have loved to offer my skill-set, but received no response for months at an end. Then I got shortlisted for the role at Krèsha Bajaj which wasn’t easy to get through, I went through ample rounds of interviews with the founder herself and Trusha Bajaj, the Brand Manager.
For everyone who thinks opportunities in fashion come along purely based on one’s network/connections, I would like to reiterate that my name was shortlisted only after my portfolio was viewed. My advice for those looking for a job in the given scenario would be to continue staying driven, there should be no turning back. Keep applying everywhere but not at the cost of your interests. Start small but start from somewhere!
Q. Marketing in the era of COVID-19 has proved to be tricky for the biggest of brands. How are you navigating content strategy and innovation for Krèsha Bajaj in these uncertain times?
Monopoly is the end of innovation and that is the complete opposite to our approach at Krèsha Bajaj. We have always believed in being original with our content, not taking away from our competitors, but rather adding onto the creative diaspora of the Indian design market. During COVID-19, what was of utmost importance to the brand was supporting the community that we’ve built online and with tougher times, we wanted to make the most of the situation by adapting to the present adversities.
For starters, we started a Fairytale Funding initiative that emerged from Kresha’s vision to make every individual’s fairy tale wedding and accompanying outfit their most cherished memories through a simple EMI program. For the longest time we’ve had people tell Kresha that they wish to wear one of the label’s unique lehengas on their special day but most often than not it would end in them conveying their doubts about affording the same.
These pieces are carefully priced according to the level of detail and workmanship that goes into it, some of these pieces take anywhere from 3 to 6 months and every day we do a round of quality check. It is a slow but rewarding process that makes sure a bride’s dream outfit is nothing short of exquisite which will remain timeless and a worthy investment to hand down for generations to come.
During Diwali, we organised a giveaway for our followers, known as the ‘7 Days of Diwali Giveaway’, with the aim to give back to our community and celebrate certain joys of life as we know it. We quizzed our followers on how well they knew the brand and it was beautiful to see what people all over the world had to say about us! Sometimes running campaigns has nothing to do with a target, and it’s just about being grateful and appreciating the little things.
Q. Are there any misconceptions about working in creative consultancy or marketing that you would like to bust?
There are so many, the first being that having a good final image is the key to good marketing. If you have a fabulous product photo and no strategy to back it, then there isn’t any justice done to the product. People aren’t just looking for material goods, they’re buying into relations, stories and magic. There’s a lot more to marketing than just presentation!