I think like a young bride: Anushree Reddy

MUMBAI:Comprising rosy pinks, sea greens, tones of beige and lavender, Hyderabad-based designer Anushree Reddy’s mood board has always been single-mindedly pretty. She’s crystal clear about who her customer is and perhaps that clarity has helped her stay ahead on the retail curve over the years. Not long ago, the soft-spoken designer was inspired by the charming Portobello Road and she artfully married the old British charm with her native Hyderabadi zardozi. Not many know that the hands-on mother of two young boys, has also been a national-level badminton player and still manages to enjoy the game as and when she gets some time off.

My canvas: Victorian Vintage
When Anushree started out, she was inspired by vintage Victorian florals. “I wanted to take that and fuse it in Indian wear because we either had hard-hitting Indian clothes or purely Western.”

Her first collection gloried thanks to the luscious English prints which she embellished with her signature Hyderabadi zardozi embroidery. “After a couple of seasons, you find your calling and it’s become a strong brand aesthetic. Every season we reinvent some form of flora and use it with zardozi.”

The Anushree Reddy woman
“It’s a very target-centric market and I’m not looking at someone who’s 35 plus. She’s between 20 and 35 — mostly young girls, brides-to-be and destination weddings. It’s easy for us since we are clear about our customers.” One’s keen to ask if she’ll ever go edgy or subversive?

“Maybe not. I do want to make a bit of a deviation from what I do right now — which is very occasion-based. This season, I’m doing ready-to-wear, simpler looks. It’s not just lehengas and dupattas. We’re doing cotton kurtas with a hint of embroidery — a more wearable collection and also playing with solid colours. Besides, not everything is print-heavy.”

Business and political family background
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, Anushree’s parents are from a business background but she’s married into a political family. “What I do has nothing to do with what either of them do. Initially, they thought I became a ‘full-fledged tailor’ and they were like, ‘what are you doing’. I have my own thing going and run it very independently. As I’ve grown, they do take pride in what I do, they understand. Otherwise, the label is completely my baby.”

Self-taught designer
“I did a course in entrepreneurship in London School of Economics and then an MBA from Cardiff University. When I came back, I was working with a magazine in Hyderabad, You & I. There I was writing stories and styling cover pages for two years. Then I got married and wanted to do something on my own. It took off from there. I started with one person and today we have a team of 70 people. It’s been five years — grown from strength to strength. But it’s been hard work. When you start on your own, you tend to make a lot of mistakes. When I started, it was really hard. Now I know, I have made it the hard way. The first three years, were pure misery. Things worked out. I think I worked twice as much. Sometimes, when you haven’t studied fashion, you can get to a certain level, but getting beyond that is hard. You need some backing,” she says in all honesty.

Retail learnings
“For me, my commercial bit has always worked out very well. I think like a consumer and I design like a consumer. We retail pretty much with everyone — Aza, Ensemble, Ogaan — we’ve been sold out everywhere unless a piece gets damaged and comes back. I think like a young bride. In fact, it’s been a production issue. We’ve not been able to produce as much we we’d like to sell.”

She recently gave birth to a second baby boy and her eyes light up as she speaks about her little bundles of joy. “This is my second baby. The first one is three-and-a-half and second one is three months old. Both boys. It’s a challenge with the babies, but you can’t slow down. You can’t take a break unless something is really, really wrong.”

Work life balance
“The trick is to get a schedule that works for you. I wake up really early in the morning and by 3.30-4 pm, I’m done with my day. So I kind of plan my day well, so it works for me. When you’re a mother to two really small children and have a big family, the first rule is to never complain as it’s going to get you nowhere. It’s just about finding that routine which works for you. And you have to stick by it. Relatively you have to be quite disciplined. I don’t do lunches at all.”

Passion for badminton
“I used to be a professional badminton player and I played up to the state and national level when I was much younger. I enjoy playing the sport even now and working out and all of that.”

With her sports background, does any of that athleticism spill into her design space too? “In terms of silhouettes, I have injected an ease into the garments — added a bunch of drawstrings. People are kind of opening up to that and you need to cater to that. Everyone wants a bit of that in their wardrobe and I’m adapting to that keeping in mind my sensibility.”