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Women Leaders in Fashion Retail: Jacqueline Kapur, CEO and Founder, Ayesha Accessories

In an ever-evolving global business landscape, the role of women entrepreneurs is increasingly prominent and influential. The deeper we look into the world and journey of female entrepreneurship, the more it becomes clear that these innovative and determined individuals are not just shaping economies but also breaking barriers and redefining traditional norms.

From inspiring stories and challenges to ground-breaking triumphs of women entrepreneurs; the transformative power of their ideas and the resilience that fuels their ambitions has set an example for many.

This week, IMAGES Business of Fashion takes a closer look at yet another inspiring journey of a powerful women entrepreneur – Jacqueline Kapur. Here’s all you need to know about her journey in fashion retail!

Personal Life

Jacqueline Kapur is a German-born entrepreneur who contributed to Hidesign’s growth. She also launched AYESHA, India’s first organized retail fashion jewelry brand.

Jacqueline studied Japanese language, linguistics and German Literature at the Rhein Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany. Later, she won a prestigious scholarship by the DAAD to study Japanese in Tokyo.

While on vacation in Puducherry, she met Dilip Kapur, Founder Hidesign. The couple married soon after.

She moved to India in 1989 where she started working with Dilip Kapur and contributed significantly to the growth of his popular leather brand Hidesign, particularly in the German market.

The couple – who have 2 children, Milan and Ayesha – separated in 2016.

A devoted mother, Jacqueline is passionate about animals, particularly horses, and is credited with founding Red Earth Riding School.

In 2006, she opened her first MBO in Puducherry, CASABLANCA, and also played a key role in designing two hotels, Le Dupleix and The Promenade.

In 2009, she founded her own brand, Ayesha, which became the first Indian fashion jewelry and accessories brand in the organized Indian retail market, catering to Gen Z and Gen Y customers.

“We envision Ayesha Accessories as India’s answer to Accessorize, appealing to teenagers and young women with an array of western, ethnic, and crossover styles. Balancing aspiration and affordability, we aim to penetrate both offline and online markets, becoming a fixture in physical and digital retail spaces. Our goal is to be aspirational, accessible, and profitable, firmly establishing Ayesha Accessories as a leading fashion accessory brand in India,” she told IMAGES Business of Fashion.

Skills That Helped Her Succeed in Retail

Jacqueline is a one-woman army, who apart from being Founder & CEO also handles the Business Development and Marketing portfolios in her company, oversees strategy for her company and helps identify growth opportunities through partnerships. She is actively involved in financial decision-making, budgeting and maximizing ROI and leads product development and merchandising strategies to align them with market trends and consumer preferences.

And her effort has paid off. Ayesha is today present in the offline market with more than 60 points of sales and is represented on all major fashion online marketplaces in the country.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Jacqueline outlines her professional strengths and weaknesses saying, “My strengths are my keen intuition for upcoming fashion trends guides strategic planning and decision-making. My compassionate and effective leadership fosters a high employee retention rate and a productive work environment. My tenacity and innovative approach enable me to face new challenges head-on, making brave decisions in my personal as well as my professional life.

“My weaknesses would be my preference for variety which can sometimes lead to difficulties in maintaining focus on long-term problems. My tendency to understate personal achievements often causes issues that can impact my recognition in the professional world. A level of impatience can manifest when faced with complex issues where solutions aren’t immediately visible.”

Game-Changing Retail Technologies

Jacqueline feels that while AI and VR are commonly highlighted as transformative technologies for the modern retail world, offering valuable insights into market trends and customer buying patterns as well as personalized shopping experiences, it’s crucial not to overlook the timeless importance of human interactions.

“As our world becomes increasingly digital, the emotional connection between retailers and customers is more essential than ever. This connection may not be a ‘new technology’ in the traditional sense, but its significance in the retail landscape is immense. As we continue to evolve and innovate, we must strive to preserve and enhance this emotional connectivity in our digital retail practices, ensuring that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of modernization,” she states.

Despite this stance, her brand Ayesha has shifted to e-commerce. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company made the difficult decision to downsize its offline presence by approximately 50%. The most transformative change was transitioning from an offline brand to establishing a prominent presence in the e-commerce space,” Jacqueline says.

The brand also lays heavy emphasis on Social Media Marketing. “Recognizing the importance of social media, the company shifted marketing strategies from traditional print ads and hoardings to leveraging social media and performance ads to engage with customers effectively,” she states.

Skills That Helped Her Succeed

Jacqueline states that she has an unyielding tenacity and that she perseveres through challenges without surrendering.

“I am an active risk-taker and I favor a ‘do now, reflect later’ approach to spur growth. I have strong trend insights and I possess a knack for identifying emerging market trends easily. I cultivate empathy towards my team members for creating unity. I aim not just for wealth, but to positively impact others’ lives. These skills have helped me gain success in my profession,” she concludes.

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