This is the story of Kumar and Manimekalai and what made them start, the Start Up, Mavira Designs where we do Women's Apparel manufacturing, Bespoke Tailoring, Job Orders, besides eCommerce/Online Store Sales on : https://mavira-designs.myshopify.com; www.maviradesigns.com.
I grew up in boarding school - Montfort Anglo-Indian High School, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India, from Class-III onward, but only after doing the baby-class study at next door, Sacred Heart Girls High School, where boys were allowed up to Class-III. I think, rightfully so: Big Boys in a Girls School could be dangerous at higher levels? My then poor-farmer grandpa, wanted me to learn to speak classic English, like an Englishman - and I did not disappoint on that word, passing out as a Gentleman of Class-X and later Class-XII (being introduced for the first time in Montfort, under a new Education System). Those were the 'Wonder Years' filled with many odd & even stories of the 1970's !
Meanwhile, Manimekalai, raised by her entrepreneur Mom & Dad, at Attur was battling with her Math & English at the local Government Girls High School, Attur. She studied hard enough to pass into the realms of higher education - to obtain classy diplomas in Interior Design and Garment Design at Kothari's Academy, Chennai.
I graduated as an Engineer from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai, in 1984: first grew sugarcane & tapioca; raised chicken & goats; milked cows & buffaloes, before powering electricity through lignite, at Neyveli Lignite Corporation, Neyveli in 1986. Seven years and seven 210 MW steam turbines later, I blowed-down into Business (my first venture into entrepreneurship), having swept Manimekalai off her feet, as a suitable boy, in an arranged marriage, in August 1991, and then 'teaming-up well' to bring our only son, Vivan, into the World, in 1993.
In Business - Shree Thirumal Granites - we dug the good earth hoping for a mine of granite, but ended up with dust on our faces, and on the street, literally. The family howled, 'I told you? Who would leave a cushy, surely-paying Central Govt job?' However, we found some purpose, held on tight, and I became a self-employed Insurance Surveyor, surveying accidents for worthy claims. We also started Agnee Sarees - an Exclusive Cotton Saris showroom in Salem, sold saris, stitched blouses (with & without windows) for four years before Tata Consulting Engineers, Hyderabad, discovered hidden Plant Betterment and Plant Startup & Commissioning talent in me in 1998 (They probably found out that I was struggling to match the blouse with the sari and needed to be pulled out!)
I then traveled allover India to startup & commission coal & gas fired power plants. I even made it to Puerto Rico, USA, being on the Duke/Flour Daniel Start-Up team for the 2 x 250 MW AES Total Energy Plant. I returned to a closing Hyderabad Office and opened myself to power plant design at Tata's Bengaluru Office, in 2002.
Realizing that the Tatas' were paying me a pittance and captivated by the Dhirubhai Ambani story, I joined Anil Ambani's Reliance Energy, at Mumbai, in the Central Procurement Group. Over the next 15 months I entangled myself in haggling with Contractors on prices, besides learning the heaven of taxes and hell of Contracts. My head spun along with the grind of the daily body-massage on the first class Mumbai local trains to and from work!
Having lived so much in the South and East, I then headed North, conquered Delhi and Gurgaon - occupied it for seven years. During this period, I modernized GMR's Delhi's Airport International Terminal-2, in record time; obtained ISO 9001: 2008 Certification for Lahmeyer International India, Gurgaon and headed the Mechanical Engineering Department - talking Boiler design with the Chinese in Shenyang, China; project management with the Thais in Prachanburi and tendering for India's first 500 MW lignite Boiler & Turbine, at my first Home of Neyveli Lignite.
While all this was happening, Vivan was growing up quickly and learning from the best of Mom & Dad, opening his little mind to the many places of our lives. He played Tennis as his idol Roger Federer would, and learnt to string the Guitar - growing his hair to catch the tune. Vivan topped the Science stream course in Shri Ram School, Gurgaon, and went on to study Computer Science at Delhi University's Hans Raj College, before heading to England's King's College, London, for higher studies (My grandpa would be smiling, in Heaven, for sure! English talks).
I then dropped down again, to the South-Chennai, returning to work in a Power Projects EPC Contracting Company, as Vice-President (and later as Director in a Valves Manufacturing Company at Sri City) and turned the focus on Manimekalai. For years, she had been working quietly, as the family's inside fashion designer: choosing clothes for every occasion; styling outfits for Weddings and Family Moments - on free requests, and sharpening her innate sense of style and beauty. It's awfully hard to hide skills & talent: our neighbor at Chennai, a spirited Mrs Leela, prodded us to start our own fashion line and demanded we come up with a name within a few days. We brain-stormed, one stormy night, and suddenly we had 'MAVIRA' by the thread. 'MA' the first letters of Manimekalai (Mani was also my original name, at Home, in the just-born days), 'VI', the first letters of Vivan and 'RA' that of Ramasamy - Manimekalai's inspirational entrepreneur Father who rose from humble origins to build a solid business in Attur, Salem District and become a two-time Member of the Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly. AMR - as he was popularly called, was man of strong values, unshakable integrity and an incorruptible down-to-earth politician.
Leela, also lead us to our first Master Cutter Tailor and we rolled out the virgin Mavira designs! One of them was a never-before made Sari, which decorated a young bride on her Wedding Day, and won the groom's heart forever.
On a hot, humid, November evening, in Chennai, when I was called by my CEO and told, "I think we should part ways. You are so different from the rest of us. Thanks Kumar, it was a pleasure working with you", I knew the end had come to a roller-coaster Work Career. No comebacks! Time to move on and build on my Entrepreneur Dreams.
We relocated, moving into our hard-earned (& saved) Flat in Salem, in February 2015-after visiting London in January 2015, to watch Vivan obtain his Masters Degree, as the best student of his batch. We returned and began the process of putting together and delivering Mavira Designs. We set up production facilities at Attur where Manimekalai had substantial space (& AMR's circling spirits) in her late Dad's Home; hunted for raw material around Salem and in other regions of produce, including the Delhi we had once conquered. We also hoped to capture local talent in Attur and weave them into our designs. Our initial focus was to make our very own unique Saris, Kurtas, Salwars, Churidars, Long Gown Nighties, and gradually ramp up to cover Women in all other ways, to see every Woman wear a Mavira, Night & Day!
We were awfully fortunate to receive a test order of 500 Kurta's & Nighties, from a Well-Wisher in the Textile Town of nearby Tiruppur, who provided the first cash flows. In the beginning, we struggled with building our own website - a Designer in Bengaluru having failed us, but thanks to the genius of Vivan we spotted and hitched our Store to Shopify. We launched the Mavira Store on 31st December 2015 and received our first Order on the very first of January 2016.
We are continually evolving and hope to decorate your lives with our designs. More coming up!