From software engineer to fashion designer – Joshna Rebecca Naveen’s transformation was seamless. Susanna Myrtle Lazarus talks to the newest designer on the virtual block about the shift.

Joshna Rebecca Naveen’s Online Boutique is a line of designer and customised saris. She talks to NXg about her journey and inspiration.

From computer codes to crepe and chiffon — what prompted the shift?

After working for several years in the IT industry, I took a break to sail with my marine engineer husband. A few months ago, I wanted to do something creative. I love fashion, especially saris; since I’ve always had an eye for colour and design, I took the leap and started dabbling in designing saris. The first sari I made was for me, and since then there has been no looking back.

Why Facebook?

Using Facebook as the medium for marketing was purely for convenience. It gives me the freedom to post and interact with customers on the go. I also get feedback that I use in creating my next collection. So far the customer response has been great, especially after my first exhibition a few weeks ago.

What’s your marketing/advertising strategy?

I get a lot of work on recommendation from clients, who are happy with what I’ve created for them. Of course Facebook advertisements help. I model my saris and have my clients send in photos of them wearing Rebecca’s creations so that they have an idea of how the sari will look on an average-sized woman.

There are several such online boutiques on Facebook. What makes Rebecca’s special?

Each sari I have made has a story behind it. A lot of care and effort go into every consultation but it’s worth it when they’re delighted with their sari. It is a reflection of themselves and their taste. I also keep the pricing affordable so anyone can stand out in the crowd without spending a bomb! I’m very proud of the mother-daughter series of matching sari and pavada chattai. I feel it is something unique I have to offer.

What has been your success rate?

I’ve just about broken even. The success rate is about 75 per cent with sales and 100 per cent with customer satisfaction. I started out wanting to make trendy designer pieces for young women. However, I soon realised that older women too want such saris, but find that the ones in the market aren’t what they feel is “suitable” for their age.

They make up a large part of my clientele now as I can design what they have in mind.

What inspires you?

Everything! Tablecloths, curtains, bouquets of flowers... Being a compulsive embroiderer, I love working out colour combinations and patterns. While I like working with ethnic designs, I continue to have an eye out for contemporary and quirky trends. I try to incorporate a little bit of both in the pieces I design. When it comes to colours, I have a weakness for pastel shades.

How do you survive in the tough world of being an entrepreneur?

I’ve a very simple philosophy: don’t think about the competition and don’t let it get you down.

I love designing. It is my passion and I do it for myself and not for competing. In fact, I am quite tickled when clients send me photos from other online designers and ask me if I can make a similar sari.

What is your long-term dream?

I hope to run my own little boutique bridal studio in a couple of years with a full-fledged tailoring unit. Apart from that, I’d love to have the opportunity to dress Deepika Padukone in one of my creations!

Check out her work at facebook.com/rebeccasonlineboutique