The visionary behind Kolkata Literature Festival actually helms two other equally iconic businesses: Meet marketing maestro Malavika Banerjee
Sports, sarees, and literature not only co-exist peacefully but also thrive in marketing maestro Malavika Banerjee’s collection of interests and successful businesses.
Married into a business family, she swore for the first six months to never become a businesswoman or collaborate with her husband or the family. But her husband Jeet Banerjee owned an advertising agency, insisted that he and his thoroughbred Kolkata-girl wife and combine her flair for content and his ability to market. In 1998, the couple launched sports marketing company, Gameplan Sports.
Within the two months, they bagged former Pakistani cricketer, Wasim Akram as a client, and within five years, the Rs.250 million company became foremost name in sports marketing. Over the next five years, the company shot to fame as one of the biggest content providers of sports.
Meanwhile, Banerjee, who had inherited her mother’s fondness for sarees, crossed paths with Bailou’s Bappaditya and Rumi Biswas, who were creating beautiful weaves with over 1000 weavers since 2002. It was now Banerjee’s turn to propose a collaboration – between Bailou’s sarees and her own marketing prowess. Together, they started Byloom as the retail venture to Bailou.
Byloom has now ventured into menswear and children’s wear. Inspired by Sri Lankan concept stores, Byloom also launched a café, Byloom Canteen, within four months of opening its doors to the public. The brand clocks Rs. 120 million in revenue.
Finally, in 2010, Banerjee’s time at the Jaipur Literature Festival inspired her next business venture. At the threshold of her 40s and had the urge to do more than sports, and created a Powerpoint outlining a plan to host a literature festival in Kolkata. Sujata Sen, then director of British Council East India, found her presentation a few months later, the next thing they know, they were hosting the first edition of it within four months.
Over 10,000 book lovers attended the festival and the overwhelming response encouraged Banerjee, as the festival’s director, to shift the annual event from Kolkata Book Fair to Victoria Memorial. The next milestone happened in 2015 when Tata Steel agreed to become the title sponsor of KLM. “Now, the litfest consumes me. I’m always looking out for writers and reading reviews in The Guardian and The New York Times. It’s an endless joy,” says Banerjee.