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May 2, 2013

Simone Tata- A feminine landmark in the male dominated enclaves

Being successful is not about exhibiting a different and an exceptional gesture towards a normal thing; rather it is about exhibiting a normal gesture for a different and exceptional thing. Accomplishing tasks that are difficult, with much perseverance and dedication defines success to the core.  

Simone Tata, nee Dunoyer, 83, is an Indian business woman who strived to move ahead with flying colors, when women like her were busy with their households. Mrs. Tata was the Chairperson of the Trent Limited, a subsidiary of the Tata Company, was the first businesswoman to introduce beauty salons, produce cosmetics for Indian consumers, and that’s the reason why she is also known as the “Cosmetic Czarina of India”.

Her Early Days

Simone Tata was born in France and got educated in Switzerland. She came to India during 1955. Moving to India was a turning point of her life. Starting from Switzerland to India, the evolution of her background is very exceptional. A part of her childhood was unsecured due to the World War II. The influence of World War II was vehement in the small town of Geneva. But the effect of the fear and terror that had lived with during the World War times was never seen during her later years. A loving personality along with a loving heart was her big asset in the success journey to become the strongest arm of Tata Retail. While hard work repaid her much what made her a favorite among her subordinates was her calm and serene approach in dealing with them.

Later she married the Late Naval Tata. She is the mother of Noel Tata, and the step mother of Ratan Tata.

And the journey begins here!

After moving to India in the year 1955, she joined as the Managing Director of Lakme in the year 1961. And hence started a new phase of entrepreneurship and what came next, is known to everyone. Success never made late for Simone Tata. In the year 1982 she was promoted to the post of Chairperson of Lakme. And sooner in 1989, she was appointed to the board of the Tata Industries.

Lakme, which was a small subsidiary of the Tata Oil Mills, under the flagship of Simone Tata, went on to become one of the largest cosmetic manufacturing of India. Taking the growth of retail industry, she decided to sell off the Lakme and it was bought by the Hindustan Uniliver and with that capital she started Westside. And what remarks her achievement is that a single unprofitable retail outlet of Westside is now operating as many as 14 successful stores. The thorough understanding of the marketing prospects, sincerity and dedication in standing next to the competitors helped the Westside gain a firm position in the market and among the consumers. Stylish clothing, exceptional toys, trendy house wares and hip cosmetics along with the label of Westside, gave it an edge along with its competitors. Since 1998, it has been the endeavor of the Tata Company to provide the best shopping experience to the customers. According to Simone Tata, the chief reasons behind the success of her venture are the impeccable style, reasonable price and most importantly flawless quality.

Apart from apparels and cosmetics, the Taj Caf is another achievement of hers. It is one of the favorite spot for ladies for a get together after being stressed from household work. The place is also an entertainment provider especially during various Indian festivals. This implies her strong knowledge of the Indian culture and tradition. As exclaimed by many of her colleagues and subordinates, it is really hard to believe that she is not from India.

Tough times

The real obstacle for the Westside was during 1999-2004, when the real estate market was very expensive. And since the company was in its infant stage it was difficult to arrange for sufficient capitals for expanding the business prospects. Land cost was itself proving to be major hindrance.  But it didn’t take much time to prove the prowess of the Tata. By the end of the summer 2004, the newly born retail industry was already operating in 14 different locations of India, owing to the perseverance and marketing aptitude of none other than Mrs. Simone Tata.

Entrepreneurial traits

Interesting ambience, style quotient and reasonable pricings are the key to her successful entrepreneurship ventures. Understanding the core concepts of marketing was the main entrepreneurial trait that enabled Simone Tata to achieve laurels. According to her the trick to her successful venture was to catch the trend before it shelves the store. And the most important part is about knowing the particular trend that will attract the Indian customers categorically. She made regular visits to the European countries and acquire the latest fashion trends with women’s apparels, household and accessories to bring the same international flavor to local grounds of India. Her foresight to predict the Indian contemporary urban fashion and her notion that the dressing sense of the Indian youngsters and women are much contemporary to those of the European natives is what got Westside stay afloat in times not so good. These assessments are what made a benchmark in the fashion world with her brainchild Westside.

Achievements and Laurels

Recognizing her contribution to the Indian retail industry, she was honored with the Life Time Achievement Award by the Indore Management Association (IMA). The award was presented to her during the IMA National Convention, 2005 at Indore. She has also been conferred the “Visionary of the Year” Award by the Images Fashion Awards (IFA) for Westside, the lifestyle retail brand of the Tata Company. IFAs are considered to be one of the highest accolades in fashion business. She has also received the Udyog Ratna Award as the “Woman of the Decade”.

The true taste of Indian culture, her concern for meeting the demands and needs of the Indian population, her analysis of the Indian market and her outlook towards the future retailing industry of India make her success strategy insuperable. Hadn’t she been that dedicated and sincere in her pursuit of following the believed strategy, then who knows if India would have ever got a Simone Tata! 

Tags : simone tata, women entrepreneurs, top women in business, lakme, trent limited,

About Kanika

I have been writing for almost 3 years now for various clients