Rendezvous with Ginger-it-Up
Meet the Fashion Diva & the Entrepreneur Ritu Bhat of “Ritu Selects”
Being the Owner and Chief Creative Director of the largest Indian ethnic showroom in the Carolinas, Wardrobe Stylist Ritu Bhat has been climbing up the success ladder and there is no looking back!
Talking about her brand, Ritu says, “It’s based on Indian couture with an international appeal. And the Label ‘Ritu Selects’ is striving to meet that zenith where east meets west!”
From Mumbai (India) To United States: A Couture Move
Before launching her brand ‘Ritu Selects’, Ritu Bhat worked as an HR Professional in India. Her husband’s job was a prime reason behind their relocation to United States.
Ritu learnt sewing as early as she was just 15 years old and has been a seamstress since her teens. After leaving her human resourcing career and moving to United States, her passion for heritage and fashion took flight and she started this venture in the year 2012 as a home-based boutique which has now come a long way to being the largest Indian ethnic showroom in the Carolinas.
When she launched her label, she was, of course, unaware of the fact that it would culminate into a brand with a great presence in the Carolinas and rest of North America. However, her vision, perseverance and talent made it promising to be recognized and become a distinct competitor in this niche across the Carolinas.
As her star continues to rise, she remains humble and down to earth. Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, Ritu is a great wife and a super mom too.
I’ve been a longtime fan of her work and caught up with the talented & visionary wardrobe stylist over a cup of coffee on “Rendezvous with Ginger-it-Up”
So, a warm welcome to Ritu Bhat of label “Ritu Selects” on “Ginger-it-Up”!
Mani: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your label ‘Ritu Selects’?
Ritu Bhat: Firstly, Thank You Mani, for having me on Rendezvous with Ginger-it-up! It’s a pleasure! I have read your blog and loved the way you have presented it, Congratulations!
My name is Ritu and I am the Chief Creative Director/Owner of Ritu Selects – India Inspired Couture. We started our venture in the year 2012 as a home-based boutique which has now come a long way to being the largest Indian ethnic showroom in the Carolinas!
Mani: What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Ritu Bhat: I had my career in human resourcing before I got into this venture! I learnt sewing when I was around 15 years old and have been a seamstress since then! My love and passion for fabrics (from around India) and stitching is the prime reason of me starting this business! And yes, this is my first ever business! I call it my 3rd baby (after my 2 kids)
Mani: How did you come up with your business idea? What is the major theme and key to your designs at Ritu Selects?
Ritu Bhat: As a teenager, I loved mixing and matching my wardrobe! After I started to know more about sewing, I used to buy fabrics and stitch my outfits. Gradually the love for fashion just grew along with me! I have always been in awe of watching our Indian craftsmen weave thru the fabrics and create such beautiful intrinsic patterns and embroidery. However, the eureka moment was when I was brainstorming some business idea and I saw my daughter involved in dressing up her Barbie dolls (she was 5 then) & instantly decided that I wanted to do this
My brand specializes in ethnic and elegant fusion wear using a unique combination of traditional Indian craftsmanship and modern colorful designs. The backbone of my business are my immensely talented craftsmen at my unit in India!
Mani: How would you benchmark Indian Ethnic Wear industry globally?
Ritu Bhat: I don’t think there is a yardstick to measure the global reach of Indian ethnic wear! I think this industry has been rapidly and constantly changing in the previous few decades. Our market is no longer stuck to the idea of classifying ethnic wear to just the Indian traditional clientele! I strongly believe that there is a huge potential and growing market for contemporary Indian wear globally and Ritu Selects as a brand is striving to meet that zenith where east meets west! We are having an increase every year in the “non-Indian” sector which confirms my belief that “India Inspired Couture” has an international appeal & is a global product. We are just getting started!
Mani: What is the key to survival in a competitive market like Charlotte, US where you have more designers & brands similar to your business?
Ritu Bhat: I truly believe that everyone is unique in their own way. Each of us has a very different approach towards fashion, style and trends! Recently, I stumbled on a beautiful quote by Fabienne Fredrickson that said “Even if you have ton of competitors, no one else would do it quite like you”! I think this thought summarizes it all! And rather than focusing on what your competitors are doing, I would focus on what could I do to keep progressing! That’s the only reason I could move out of my home and open a showroom!
Mani: Are there any challenges that you faced in starting this business?
Ritu Bhat: I guess it’s always tough when you start a new business, mainly because you don’t yet have a client base. We had the same challenge, but more so as we were clear that we did not want to be in the clothes trading business i.e. buy products in bulk and sell it for a quick profit without knowing too much about your product. Its easy to start this way but very tough to grow as you have not created anything unique. We wanted to have a very clear theme for our brand & how we present our products. We spent a lot of time, effort & money putting the right team together back home, so it was a little tough and slow to get started. However I think we are in the right direction. Apart from the business aspect it gives me the creative satisfaction that I seek!
Mani: What has been your greatest professional success and biggest setback?
Ritu Bhat: I always wanted to present Indian clothing & mainly Indian craftsmanship as something that has an international appeal. The fact that we have featured and been appreciated in so many reputed runway platforms including Charlotte International Fashion Week, NC Fashion Association Style Week and Bank of America stadium, makes me feel somewhat successful in that attempt! We have also been recognized & featured in local media such as FOX46, WBTV and Charlotte Observer!
Our biggest setback was when we had to abruptly halt our operations for three months at our prior location when the mall we operated from closed. But that opened new doors for us, leading us to our current showroom which is now the largest Indian designer boutique in the Carolinas!
Mani: Tell us a bit about your family? Tell us a bit about your spouse, his role and contribution towards your successful business.
Ritu Bhat: Running a full-fledged store is a tough job and it’s impossible to do it without your family’s support! I have 2 kids, my son Arpit is 12 and my daughter Kripa is 10. I have been married to Pravin for almost 18 years now and I couldn’t have imagined building Ritu Selects on my own. He perfects my imperfections & fills the voids for me to stay sane as I balance the incredibly crazy schedule of being a mother, wife and an entrepreneur! I am the heart of this venture and he is the brain!
Mani: What do you think are the keys to professional and business success for women across the globe?
Ritu Bhat: I am still learning, but I think the key lies in understanding your strengths. Once you know that, you sure will be able to figure something that you have to offer that is much valued. Also, I think success is measured too much in one dimension, it has become a race for revenue! Yes, your business should be financially sound, but equally important is that you enjoy the process, else it’s bound to cause burnout, successful or not!
Mani: Describe yourself in one sentence?
Ritu Bhat: That’s a very tough question. If it has to be one sentence, then I would say “I am someone who is driven by passion”.
Mani: Do you have a favorite mantra/quote that keeps you inspired?
Ritu Bhat: There are many but I kind of love this one, it’s a simple one but keeps me going – “Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy!”
Another one that I really like is “Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come!”
Mani: What is your personal fashion statement?
Ritu Bhat: Ïf you can’t stop thinking about it, buy it!
Mani: When and where is your next fashion show scheduled for?
Ritu Bhat: There are a few lined up but the ones that have announced their venues and dates are Charlotte International Fashion week 2017 – Runway for peace on 28th and 29th April 2017.
We are doing another one for a cause. Its presented with Heartfelt Fashion to support a 14 year old Ryan Elledge who is battling Hodgin’s Lymphoma. It is on 15th April 2017 and all proceeds would go to the Elledge family.
Mani: What are your favorite three dishes/recipes?
Ritu Bhat: I was born in a typical food loving Punjabi family and my mom is my favourite chef in the whole wide world! Some of my favorite recipes I learnt from her is Rajma-chawal, Shyaam Savera and baked cauliflower!
Mani: What advice would you give to young women readers of Ginger-it-Up who want to follow a similar career path as you?
Ritu Bhat: Listen to your heart! Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try!
Mani: Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in the similar business?
Ritu Bhat: Since this is on Ginger-it-up, I would say, “The world is a big melting pot, add your own unique spice & make the dish taste even better”
Mani: Thank you so much for your valuable time Ritu. It was a pleasure speaking to you and knowing more about you and your venture. We wish you more and more success.