Shreya Saboo: Sales Strategist
Most Likely To: Bring in whirlwind of chaotic energy whenever she enters a room
How did you join the Papa Don't Preach family?
“Initially, I only interned at Papa Don’t Preach for three months, to assist them in production. In that short period of time, I grew accustomed to the the fast-paced, high energy work culture. It's exciting and infectious to work with a group of passionate and like-minded women towards a shared goal. The aftermath of a victory or loss is rewarding because it always brings us closer. Lilly, Shubhika and I were the original members of PDP in 2014. In the years that followed, we hustled to get collections out and we knew we needed more hands. Every time our team grew larger, I saw these fresh faces and thought, they’re in for the ride of their life because that’s how fast-paced and exciting it is here. After those first three months, I knew I wanted to come back and they needed a larger team for fashion week. Once I was recruited, I didn't take a break from work for the next six years.”
How has your role developed since you joined the team?
“In the last nine years, I've been heavily involved in multiple departments and still am. It’s partly because it was three member start-up when I joined, so the roles frequently overlapped. But the main reason is that I enjoy doing a little bit of everything. I joined with a focus to streamline sales and production, when the capsule collection of printed sarees came, I helped with design and discovered a love for the embroidery detailing in Indian wear. From there I moved to merchandising and a little bit of graphic design. Eventually all of it connected, my involvement in the design team informed my sales strategy, my obsession with production is what helped me smoothen out the operations aspect of the business. Before I got married, I was promoted to head of operations because of all the experience I gained from each department.”
You worked with the brand for several years before making the decision to take a sabbatical, how did that decision come about?
“I made the decision to take a sabbatical when I got married in 2020 so I could focus on the new chapter in my life. It was the first time I took a complete break after a very long time. It was tough to come back to work because married life comes with certain responsibilities that I needed to give my time to. After about a year, I felt the yearning to go back to work, back to my Papa Don’t Preach family. That’s what I mean by infectious, I wanted to go back to contribute to the synergetic success of the brand and the team. I had a few meetings with Shubhika to try and come up with a solution where I could balance family and work life. We realized that my strength was strategy, whether it was sales, production or operations, I was always coming up with ways to increase output and decrease work-hours. So we came up with a part-time system where I work from home on some days and work from our production unit in Vashi or the head office on other days. This was such a great move because I got to live the best of both worlds.”
When you joined, the company was still in its infancy and growing rapidly, what factor played the most important role during this time?
“In the last nine years, technology played a huge part in easing the burden of data and sales. We had no software or systems in place for collecting, organizing and analyzing data from productions and sales. So all of my information came from personal experience on the sales floor. We didn’t have accurate numbers on how much we were selling or making. Once we implemented a dedicated data analytics team and data software, getting accurate answers became much easier.”
What do you pay attention to the most when developing a sales strategy?
“My sales strategies are the result of the years spent on the sales floor. I look at every new idea from the buyer’s perspective, if I was the buyer, would this prospect excite me? The main objective has always been to understand the buyer’s psyche better because it's amazing what you can do when you get to know the interests of the person in front of you. That kind of understanding only comes with communication, which is what I tell the sales staff when I train them- communication is key. It came easy to me because I love to talk but I also find it exciting to put the puzzle pieces of the buyer’s psyche together and present them with a product that’s perfectly suited to them.”
What part of your new role scared you the most and how did you deal with the inevitable mistakes made along the way?
“As much as I love being involved with so many departments, the idea of sales strategy and business development scared me a little because I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Gokul Dharan (COO) was the only other person that had the kind of inter-departmental experience I had, so he provided the guidance I needed to get things done. When you achieve one small thing, your confidence grows and you immediately feel the fire to do it bigger and better. Of course I still make mistakes. One time I ordered 50 meters of fabric with the wrong print, it was expensive and unusable for the collection. We ended up using the fabric for duster bags. That’s why I don’t fear mistakes as much as I gain from the learning process of a blunder.”
What are you looking forward to in the next few years?
“The next few years, I want to have children but I don’t see myself leaving the pilot seat of sales strategist at Papa Don’t Preach. I envision the brand diversifying their portfolio to offer a range of products for the classes and for the masses. Different price points, different sizes and styles- there’s something for everyone. I also see more inter-departmental communication. The last year has seen our office and team grow multitudes in size. When that happens, it’s easy to get jaded and only interact with your respective department. All of my success was propelled by the fact that I was always keeping up with every department - that’s what made work so cohesive. When I see the teams hugging each other, jumping up and down at a victory, a celebrity wearing our outfit, an award for our company or any big or small milestone. I am reminded, once again, of that familiar roller coaster ride. Only this time, we’re all holding hands as we go through the motions.”