Confidence is what Geetha Viswanathan is all about, which reflects in her views about fashion industry, government policies and funds, fashion education and entrepreneurship. Geetha Viswanathan, Managing Director of Srijati Institute of Fashion Technology (SIFT), dons many roles. She is a couturier, proprietor, fashion educationist, and image consultant.
“I have been having thrilling experiences as an entrepreneur and a patron of women entrepreneurship,” says Ms. Geetha whose promotion concept was equally thrilling when she started ‘Preyasi Design Studio' in Chennai in 1985. For the first time in Chennai, she introduced ‘24 hours tailoring', ‘Delivery at midnight', (destination included overseas), ‘Complete bridal wear' (fashion designing for the entire family of the bride and groom) and ‘Fashion designing by just seeing photograph of the person' (by taking measurement over phone). These innovative add-ons set the small unit on the international arena, thus winning her retail customers from 60 countries. Preyasi won the ‘International Award for Best Bridal Wear' in 1995 at a fashion show organised by Marks & Spencers at London. Ms. Geetha won the ‘Best Woman Entrepreneur of Tamil Nadu' award, the same year and in May 2010, her role as an educationist was recognised by the Government of India. It conferred her ‘Siksha Bharati Puraskar' for her ‘outstanding contribution to national development'.
As a child, Geetha excelled in art and craft. Her husband and father's experience in textile industry elevated her childhood interest on the fashion platform. “I travelled to various parts of the world with my husband and got the opportunity to hone my skills with the artisans from all those places. Skill turned into passion and now I use the knowledge and experience in Preyasi and SIFT,” says Ms. Geetha.
Geetha started off as a designer but her focus was more on entrepreneurship, more so on creating entrepreneurs. She started MOOWES India (Marketing Organisation of Women Entrepreneurs India) in 1985 with eight women. So far, this organisation has guided as many as 385 people to become entrepreneurs. And her venture into fashion education had something more to offer society – not just women entrepreneurs but designers with a good knowledge of designing and industry, equipped with confidence and creativity and motivated with marketing skills and customer service.
SIFT makes fashion technology study programme affordable to women students from middle and lower income groups. “All my students are successful entrepreneurs. As many as 400 students have passed out from the institution and earn nothing less than Rs. 10,000, when they set off,” says Ms. Geetha. The programme does not restrain itself to classroom education. “Our institution has tie-ups with CLRI, Co-optex, boutiques, export units and textile industries. The students are put up as trainees in all these fields and have hands-on experience. This not only helps them learn the art from the experts, but also stay up-to-date with the trend and machinery,” adds Geetha.
SIFT offers a degree programme in apparel and fashion design, seven diploma courses and 20 certificate programmes in traditional arts and handicrafts, tailoring and pattern design. Geetha Viswanathan is the head of the department, Fashion Designing, LIVE, Loyola College and Co-ordinator, Fashion Designing, Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU). SIFT also offers package courses such as ‘One-blouse package', ‘Three-blouse courses' and modules for other outfits, which is again one of Geetha's innovations. Anybody can join at any part of time to learn how to stitch blouses for sari, take measurements, do body analysis to make perfect fitting in four days. “Finding a tailor who does perfectly fitting garments is not easy. Now many women are coming to this programme, especially to design and make their own clothes,” says Geetha.
Geetha as the image consultant is most wanted among Chennaiites. She offers guidance on dressing based on the trend, image the person wishes to project and her skin colour, body and affordability.
“Everybody has a creative sense and everybody should know their body, wear clothes that suit them and know how to maintain their wardrobe,” Geetha says adding, “Dressing well directly boosts one's confidence.”
Well, where does she get her confidence from? “I gain confidence from my knowledge. With that I have been making things work,” says a poised Geetha.
Keywords: fashion technology