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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

He brought the Satya Paul brand to life

He is the man who helped give the Satya Paul design label, a fresh lease of life. Sanjay Kapoor is an economist armed with a management degree from the University of Rochester. A short stint as Assistant Manager with Citibank later, he made a decision to do something entrepreneurial.

He teamed up with Jyoti Narula in the early 1990s to start Genesis Colors, to export designer neckwear. He formally tied up with Satya Paul in 2001 and has kickstarted their mission to corporatise the ready-to-wear market in India.

He says he decided to do something by himself because he didn't want to work for someone else for the rest of his life. He had also spotted a gap in men's wardrobe - that India was exporting a $2.5 Madras plaid shirt but neckties were being ignored. Being a banker, he realised how important ties were to complete the corporate look.

So he started Genesis Colors in just one room in his parents' home and now he has given the Satya Paul design label, a pan India footprint. With 13 standalone stores across the country and a foray into women's wear, Kapoor is now working on promoting a menswear line.

Managing Director of Genesis Colors, Sanjay Kapoor told CNBC-TV18, "In the next 18-24 months, we will be coming out with a menswear line."

His joint venture with Satya Paul has been on since 1992, but it has become more of a partnership now, with Satya Paul's son Puneet joining him and Jyoti Narula as an equal partner. He feels marketing a designer brand is something that needs newer and fresh approaches

In keeping with this motto, Satya Paul fashion shows have been held at Madame Tussaud's or models have catwalked to the notes of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia's flute. Kapoor is always looking out for innovative brand promotion strategies.

With a view to building economies of scale, he is open to private equity funding and is also looking at issuing an IPO. Backing promising designers is also part of his mentoring strategy and they have made a start with Sanjana Jon and Deepika Gehani. This might pay in the long run as well, when these young designers hitch their wagon exclusively to Kapoor's successful brand.

There is an irony in this tale. Kapoor remembers a time, when he had just started out and bankers were wary of extending loans because they didn't feel garment exporting could be banked on.

Today, he fends off plenty of calls in a week, from investors and venture capitalists, VCs, who are looking to buy a bit of his business. Suddenly, now he seems to have a very appetising cake, from which he's eating all by himself - barring the two others who were smart enough to get on board when they did.

Note: At the time of writing this story, his deal with Sanjana Jon was on but since then, they have parted ways because of major differences.

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

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