Sheela Kochouseph: The brains and creativity behind V-Star
Sheela Kochouseph hails from Alappat Palathingal family from Kattor. She grew up in a small village in Wadakanchery near Trichur, her father was the manager of the first branch of South Indian Bank in Wadakkanchery. She studied in the St pious Convent School and Government Girls High School in WKY and went onto get her degree in B.Sc Home Science from St Mary’s college and did a few courses in dress making in Vimalalayam. As a child she had no big ambitions other than the aim to live life an independent woman as she did not and still prefers to never depend on anyone for anything and loves to do her own things as she would like to and enjoys doing them by herself. Then as Sheela Kochouseph started V Star, a clothes manufacturing company which had originally started with making women’s Indian outfits, and later on had turned to innerwear manufacturing under two brands known as Vanessa and Valero her vision regarding life altered as she became involved in the business. Unique Times has a chat with Sheela Kochouseph to find out more about her and about the sucessful V Star.
The creative side
I was a person who basically used every minute of life for the use of creativity. In my childhood I had a lot of spare time where there was no TV, computers, internet, or mobile phones. All these gadgets steal a good chunk of our time these days. During my childhood children were more free as the academic challenge was less demanding and the members of each family was more compared to today’s nuclear family. My mother had practically no time to spare for children so children had to find out their own games and hobbies. It was different with today’s parents who is taking their children for music/dance/ sports classes on weekends and filling the children’s room with toys. We had to make our own toys with leaves, wooden pieces, stones, paper, and clothes
The interest in business
My interest in designing flourished from childhood on as I was interested in dress making and to be frank I tried my talent in dressmaking with my dolls. My father had a textile come jewelry shop right in front of our house. During my leisure time I used to go to the shop and browse through the different textile goods and watch the customers selecting fabrics and so on. During the season of Onam our shop used to be so crowded and all cousin brothers used to come and help my father. Also since my husband also is a business man I thought I should also start something which is of my interest. I do not forget that first he advised me to help him in V guard. But due to the subject of electronics and electrical was like Greek to me I lacked interest in it.
V Star and its future
V star is my brainchild and I am really proud to be the MD of the Prestigious Brand which was born in 1995.Even though we had started with the manufacturing of women’s Indian outfits on later stage we diverted into manufacturing and marketing innerwear under the 2 brands of Vanessa and Valero. Today Vanessa is the largest selling undergarment line in Kerala. We started Valero in 2004. Now my focus is on Valero and I am sure within a couple of years it will become a strong brand in men’s innerwear market. My focus now is to make V star a big brand throughout India, as of on now we are marketing in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa. I feel that there is an ample scope for V star in India as we never compromise on quality and our customers are very happy about the product. We see our customers are our brand ambassadors. In India the usual attitude is you buy something and you “have it,” for us each of customer is so important and we really buy the customer are with them to help them if any complaints arise. As for my involvement in the business I of course involve myself in all of the day to day activities in V star mainly in the sectors of marketing, sampling, and advertisement. I would receive numerous compliments about the products and the ad releases. I believe this due to the personal care and interest which I take into my company. My ambition is to bring V star into the mainstream of Indian business I believe with a good team of hardworking staff and in following good marketing techniques the company will be able to achieve this.
I have always felt competition is good for business. If you don’t have competition you will never think of improving the products and your employees and will rather take things very lightly. Moreover if your products are good and the price is competitive, if you have satisfied and loyal customers no competitors can beat you. I take special care for product complaint if any there are any that is and see that there is no unhappy customer is left unattended.
Challenges in being a businesswoman in India, and in being a responsible house wife.
I actually don’t find any challenges which are confined only to woman. The challenges are open to all gender. The challenge in the previous generations for a woman may have been travelling alone or staying alone. Now the time has changed and now girls can travel throughout the country alone. It’s important that you have to be courageous and careful. Ultimately you have to look after yourself.
Since I am basically an active person and I do things in fast paced manner I never faced time constraint. At home all daily things are managed by me. If we have guest for dinner he will say today we have 5 people for dinner. The rest of the things I look after.
If I think about business, time management, and many things I would say that my husband is my role model. But I always try to inculcate any qualities I find good in others. According to me all of us have good qualities and bad qualities. So I always try to find out what is good in other person and try imbibing it.