Dubai entrepreneur on a decade of success in the fashion exhibition business
Vanitaa Bhatia is looking forward to her next DIVAlicious event in the city, to be held from September 30 to October 2.
Dubai resident Vanitaa Bhatia successfully moved from a banking career to setting up her own business venture - DIVAlicious, a fashion and lifestyle exhibition catering to fashionistas in the UAE as well as over 15 cities around the world for ten years now.
In a 2012 chat with City Times, the young entrepreneur had shared how she’d always loved fashion, even as a kid, but chose to work in banking for a while. She then used her corporate experience for the business angle of her new project. DIVAlicious, which kicked off in 2011, has grown by leaps and bounds since then.
Today she’s all set to host a new edition of the exhibition in Dubai from September 30 - October 2. We caught up with her ahead of the three-day event at Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
From someone who used to work in the banking sector to becoming a successful entrepreneur, how has this 10-year journey of DIVAlicious been?
The banking sector gave me experience of the corporate world. After taking on an extremely taxing private banker position, the know-how of running a business came very easy. It helped me gauge the regulations to start a company, business protocols, legal guidelines and of course the global exposure which eventually made the entire 10-year journey so smooth, with the vision to only keep growing.
What have some of the challenges and rewards of pursuing your passion been?
The challenges were to take the entire burden of running two companies, one in India and one in Dubai, organising salaries, operations, logistics etc., in addition to planning the exhibitions. But with this being a passion the challenges seemed to pass and the rewards of the brand growing came much sooner than expected. Getting a global presence is worth every obstacle.
DIVAlicious is known as a mobile boutique - it has a presence in so many cities around the world apart from Dubai now. How do you feel to have branched out so successfully globally?
With a strong presence in over 15 cities and to have been consistent and expanding has been a roller coaster ride. There have been thrills of successful exhibitions and the fear of a downfall in certain markets as each place has a different set of regulations and marketing pattern. This ride has been extremely motivating; I now have a target to reach 30 cities in the next five years.
Covid obviously affected live exhibitions everywhere. How has the experience of hosting DIVAlicious in Dubai during the pandemic been?
More than the virus, the uncertainty of when this situation will get better and when events would start was more stressful. We are grateful to have still hosted two successful exhibitions in Dubai during this time (October 2020 and March 2021) and now the upcoming exhibition. Things have bounced back for us at a faster pace than expected. The UAE government has handled the pandemic so perfectly, which has ensured this.
What can visitors expect from this year’s exhibition?
When visitors arrive at DIVAlicious they expect a big exhibition and we have finally been able to do that! With over 95 exhibitors majority of whom are coming in from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pakistan and also Dubai, there is a wide array of products — from festive wear, wedding attire and accessories to fine jewellery, decor, edibles, and gifting solutions.
As someone who was born and brought up in Dubai and with a family legacy dating back generations, how has the country shaped your goals and given you support?
Dubai is home. This is where I have been raised and this is the place that has given me my work, my roots, my success and is now shaping my children as well. We are blessed to have been living here — it is so inspiring to see the pace at which Dubai has grown and successfully given us the best lifestyle.
You have associated with many leading brands over the years. Who are your own personal favourites when it comes to fashion brands? What do you love to wear?
As much as I love associating with established designers, emerging designers have been so innovative and affordable. Some of my favourite couture labels are Gaurav Gupta, Seema Gujral and Payal Singhal. My favourite attire is always pret wear which I love to dress up in my own style.
What do you have to say about the growth of the fashion scene in Dubai?
With Dubai's multi-cultural population, this place has always been a fashion hub for everyone. It is fascinating to see that fashion is accepted with so much diversity and pricing, that makes it affordable and innovative.
Who has been your inspiration in the world of business and fashion?
I always get inspired by self-made people. A person from any industry who has gone through the struggle of pursuing their vision is my inspiration. Recently I was fascinated by the collaboration of Sabyasachi with H&M in India. From a couture label who not everyone could afford, this collaboration made the mass population own a Sabyasachi and the collection was sold out in a span of few hours.