She had three completely different passions – and built successful businesses in each: Jaypore’s Shilpa Sharma

Fashion, travel, and food are perhaps the three things closest Shilpa Sharma’s heart, and today, she is a proud owner of a business in each of those industries.

Before starting her own venture, Sharma’s worked at Lowe Lintas in advertising. She worked there for two years, but soon realised that it was not her calling. She believed that she had a personality mismatch when it came to being an “ad-woman”, and that she didn’t have what it takes to thrive in it.

Looking for another opportunity, she stumbled upon the world of brand and took up a product manager role in Cadbury. For her, this job was everything that she had dreamed of – in fact, she even met her husband at Cadbury. But, this lasted only until a little after the duo got married, for they decided to move to the UK. While her husband continued to work with the Cadbury’s headquarters in the UK, Sharma went on a spree to discover the different parts of the country and doing some short courses, such as baking. Though their time in England was very gratifying, personally, she was troubled by a nagging feeling that she was not doing anything constructive.

That was it for her. She decided that she will not be financially dependent on anyone. The couple, hence, decided to make a shift back to India. The first thing she did after moving to India was look for a job, and she soon bagged a role at Marico, as a brand manager. However, after four years, at 31, her son was born, and she decided that she didn’t want to leave him alone at home and go to work.

Life had other plans for her, for soon after she resigned from her job at Marico, she got an offer from one of her most loved brands, Fabindia. Sharma had decided she would take the year off, but this opportunity was tempting enough to bring her back to the workforce sooner. She joined Fabindia in June 1998, and spent years at the company catapulting their revenue from Rs.340 million when she first joined, to Rs.4 billion.

But in 2010, she reached a point when she couldn’t stand being a corporate slave anymore, and decided she wanted to start something of her own. Within a year, by October 2011, she teamed up with PE investor Puneet Chawla, and started Jaypore. Jaypore started off as a curated platform, housing apparel, jewelry, accessories and home décor from about 250 artisans. Sharma wanted to bring high quality and high on design work by Indian craftsmen to upper-middle class homes pretty much all over the world.

Started in 2012, with Rs. 2 million as seed money from Haresh Chawla , erstwhile Partner at True North, Jaypore has received Rs. 500 million in investments so far from social venture capital firm Aavishkaar. The online store gets about a million visits a month and has a repeat customer base of 70%. With an average deal value of Rs. 4,000-4,500 per transaction, the company earns a 45% gross margin across all its products.

And soon after Jaypore, in August 2012, she started her travel venture Breakaway. The travel website plans and organises customised trips to offbeat destinations, and also moderates community interactions facilitated by a domain specialist. Sharma also owns a restaurant, named Mustard, which she started with her friend Punam Singh in 2015. It is now present in Goa and Mumbai. She calls all three companies her babies, and she shows no signs of slowing down.

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