Don’t take them at face value. Several leading actresses in Mollywood have shown themselves to be keen businesswomen too. So, if Poornima Indrajith, a fashionista in her own right and designer-in-chief of fashion store Pranaah, was the lone name in the list till recently, Kavya Madhavan, Lena, Kaniha, Shwetha Menon, Rima Kallingal and the like too have joined the fray to establish their credentials as entrepreneurs.
While Kavya owns Laksyah, an online fashion store, Rima runs Mamangam, a dance school in Kochi. Lena is busy with Aakruti, her weight-loss centre. Kaniha’s focus is on health care, as a franchise partner of Medall Diagnostics in Chennai. Shwetha, meanwhile, has opened a restaurant, Shwe’s Delight, in Dubai. Mallika Sukumaran owns Spice Boat, a restaurant in Doha, Qatar… The actresses talk at length to MetroPlus about why and how they went about it, the lessons they learnt and what lies ahead.
For Kavya it was the realisation of a long-cherished dream; of starting a business venture while she is at the peak of her career. “I zeroed in on a fashion boutique from several other options, such as dance school, beauty parlour, restaurant…,” says Kavya. “It was the safest and best choice because my father had been in the textile business back home in Neeleeswaram for nearly four decades. My brother, Midhun is a graduate in fashion technology and my mother and my sister-in-law too share the same passion. Laksyah is really a family-run enterprise,” she adds. Laksyah, which sells a range of one-off designer saris and daily wear and based out of Kochi, will be celebrating its first anniversary next month.
It was a photoshoot that lead Lena to open Aakruti. She had to lose a few kilos to get in shape for the shoot and her childhood friend, Louisa David, a physiotherapist, helped her achieve that goal. “I was happy with my weight loss and so we decided to launch a physiotherapy-based slimming centre. Louisa has been running her centre at Thrissur for five years and she helped me start Aakruti, in Chevayur, Kozhikode, in September last year,” Lena says.
Kaniha, always a multi-tasker, has a solid reason for taking the health care route too. It was the closest she could get to her childhood ambition to pursue medicine! “After coming back to India from the United States, my husband, Shyam Radhakrishnan and I wanted to start something. Since I couldn’t fulfil my dream of becoming a doctor and had to study engineering instead, I thought I should do something related to healthcare and that’s how Medall happened,” says the actress.
In Shwetha’s case, her restaurant was a venture waiting to happen. “In fact, those who know me for long are not surprised with my decision to open a restaurant. I am an absolute foodie. I am so very careful about what I eat that my cook always travels with me on my shoots. I also love hosting family and friends and often hold pyjama parties at home. That’s why a restaurant was the obvious choice when I thought about starting a venture,” says Shwetha. Shwe’s Delight [“I was called Shwe by my friends in modelling circuit”], which opened its doors last month, is a North Indian fine dining restaurant. “I wanted to give expatriate Malayalis in Dubai a different taste from the usual fare. We dish up a bit of Chinese food too,” she adds.
Being a celebrity helps, most of the time, especially to get publicity, say the leading ladies. For instance, Kaniha says she could bank upon her celebrity status to get corporate tie-ups. They also talk of brand value going up when a known face opens a venture. “There is a certain level of trust with potential customers because you are a known face,” explain Shwetha and Lena. “On the flipside, you are always under scrutiny. At times, I feel acting is much easier,” adds Shwetha. Kavya says it is not easy being the face of Laksyah. “I can’t go wrong with what I wear!” she adds, with a laugh.
Celeb status and a pretty face, though, is no guarantee for a successful business. All the actresses say that they put in a lot of hard work to get their businesses up and running. “The execution part was not easy, be it finding the right location, getting the interiors done, purchasing the machinery, appointing qualified staff, training them and even finalising the colour of the uniform. But I have become more confident now that we are opening a new branch in Kochi,” explains Lena. Kaniha, meanwhile, admits that she has learnt to be “more patient and be diplomatic.” Well played.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/cheap-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/****-formal-dresses