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Piyali Dasgupta
24 May 2017 . 6 min read

Making Timeless Watches For The Confident Young Women Of Today


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Manisha Sangani is a crazy mix of a dreamer and a logical person. Graduating from Harvard University at the age of 50 while running her own brand Aspen; premium watches for women in India with Just Watches and Just in Vogue retail chains. She is the living proof of how to turn everything impossible into a reality.

Her love for all beautiful things, a keen sense of aesthetics & a strong creative flair for the fashion business led her to start a journey as the distributor for fashion watches in India. And now, Aspen has become one of the best women's watch brands.

Starting with the Fossil Group in the year 2000, with a vision to bring the best of international fashion watch brands to India, she went on to launch DKNY, Emporio, Armani, D&G, and many other branded watches.

Manisha won acclaim from Principals to Trade Partners like Departmental Stores for her dedication and commitment to making their businesses profitable and big.

Early career

Manisha recalls, “In the year 1995 I started M square Pvt. Ltd. and curated Italian silver jewellery for organised retail. In 2000, I incorporated Priority Marketing/Just Lifestyle, which is a leading name in watch retailing and distribution. I introduced and nurtured 18 International brands in India namely Fossil, Skagen, D&G, Armani etc. Then we launched my own watch brand Aspen for the young confident woman of today. It is an amalgamation of jewellery and time pieces with retail stores across the country. Currently there are 62 stores across 32 cities curating merchandise with service centre facility.”

Her company went on to receive various awards for the brands it launched. In 2004 the fastest growing brand award for fossil, best increase in sales from Geneva watches in 2009 and best category award from Central for 3 consecutive years among other renowned awards.

Manisha Sangani, aspen watches founder

Taking back the control

After launching and marketing 18 International watch brands in India, suddenly the brands were taken over by their subsidiaries.

She realised it was time to take control over her own destiny and not lose everything she had built completely. 

Despite the tremendous success in launching various watch brands in India, the distribution business proved vulnerable because of formation of subsidiary companies in India by some Principals. This was the acquisition of brands globally by competitors and a change in licensees for some global brands.

At a juncture where her business faced the threat of completely perishing,  instead of indulging in self-pity, Manisha decided to take the difficult path of building her own Brand and take control of her destiny.

The two key factors for her success are; Perseverance; sheer hard work and focus and Resilience: turning every adversity into opportunity.  

That is when she launched her own watch brand Aspen and retail chain which has definitely been the best phase of her career.

Who is an Aspen Woman?

Manisha identifies an Aspen woman as someone, “who stands tall against all adversities. Aspen watches reflect aesthetic sensibilities as a confident world citizen who happens to be a woman and proud of that. Aspen has succeeded in creating a special niche for itself in the premium watches for women in India. Innovative watches by merging Italian Jewellery Chains, Austrian Crystals to create uniqueness.”

She says, “Aspen was born out a dream to design something, which epitomizes the strength and confidence of the Indian woman of today, who is fashionable and independent still loves her tradition.”

Challenges, barriers and hurdles are given thing one has to take on an entrepreneur.  

“When the 18 brands were going away with the subsidiaries it was really hard to train my teams to sell a niche unknown brand vs. International brands.

In 2007, they were a 100 Crore company and to rebuild from it from scratch after the brands had gone away, I had to let go of people, though they found alternate placement, it was emotionally taxing.

There was a need for huge capital investment to run my own brand in an adverse situation.  

At this point, Ascent helped me in getting sharper with administration, HR, Finance, being able to talk to a peer group with similar horizontal issues. Those were really tough times, but I hung in there and now all the hard work is paying off.”

Manisha says, “I could overcome these hurdles because I believe that nothing is impossible. If a person is passionate and dedicated enough then one can achieve anything.”

Just Watches and Just in Vogue - Writing her own destiny

The Aspen brand is now available at more than 105 retail outlets and all major e-com portals. Their retail chain, Just retail is also growing. They are opening new doors every month. It has more than 62 outlets of her retail chain which is a chain of multi-brand watch outlet.

Now to exercise full control over her own destiny, she has invested in her own retail chains– Just Watches and Just in Vogue. Today she has 50 outlets of her brands.

Soon she will be also launching two other Fashion Watches Brands – Escape and Brazen to cater to two different segments in the Fashion Watches market. And she will be taking Aspen Watches and the retail concept Just Watches to International markets soon.

“Every error and stepping stone in life is the learning curve you required to create a brilliant history of triumph.” reiterates Manisha. This is how she is at the top of her game.

 


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Piyali Dasgupta
A writer and an educator with expertise in experiential learning,capacity building, counselling & content development. A feminist, wit addict and time/life traveler. She loves trees, water bodies, vintage,cooking and arts

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