Jazzing Up Your Life
Just like Bob Fosse, who directed and wrote the semi autobiographical musical All That Jazz, entrepreneurs Sharmila Arora and Dipika Bedi have together directed and choreographed the success of a Singapore-based boutique event company that goes by the same name.
With a focus on the finer things in life such as fashion, lifestyle and music the duo can be credited to bringing some of the biggest names in the business – the likes of fashion designers Vikram Phadnis, Mandira Bedi, jewellery designers Neety Singh and Queenie Dhody, launched the Singapore-based independent musician Druv Kent and also managed a number of charity events for causes in South Asia.
While there has been a deluge of ‘fashion’ events in Singapore in the recent years, All That Jazz has managed to stay ahead of the fame because their events actually allow for interaction between the designer and the customers. “As a rule we do not do ‘trunk shows’ where designers merely send their collections to us. It is absolutely mandatory that the all the designers who commit their participation have to be there in person. This is our USP that all designers themselves personally take the interest and trouble to guide our clients on their choices. This we believe makes a huge difference to the sales for each,” said Dipika.
Moreover all the events are well-curated as the two do not believe in merely selling floor space to interested participants. They have, in fact, turned away designers who do not meet the requirements for a particular show.
All That Jazz’s flagship event, The Boutique, was launched six years ago and is now a brand in itself. This year too, it has confirmed 18 designers, with a long waitlist. This is run with their partners in India – Sharmilla & Shaan Khanna in collaboration with their event company called Spicy Sangria. “They source the designers and together we create the look for the season. Our partners are totally plugged into the Indian fashion scene and have access to the top designers and emerging talent (from Lakme Fashion week),” said Dipika. Now after dominating the fashion market well for eight years , they also keep in mind Singapore’s requirements in style, price points, fabrics and quality.
With a common background in the advertising industry Sharmila Datta Arora (55) and Dipika Bedi (51), both Singaporeans now, complement each other’s strengths and trust each other’s judgement. Here are excerpts of an interview with the two.
India Se: Tell us a little about yourself.
Sharmila Arora: I was born and brought up in Delhi and Bombay to Bengali parents and from a corporate background. I did a post graduate diploma in Mass Communications from Bombay University, after which I joined the prestigious Ogilvy and Mather advertising agency through campus recruitment, where I worked in Client Servicing for two years.
My marriage to banker husband Vikas Arora, made me move to Melbourne, Australia, where I tried my hand in the retail banking business of the ANZ Banking Corporation again for two years.
I followed Vikas’ various postings through Madras, Bangalore, Bombay, and finally came to Singapore in 2007. Then I chose to be the happy homemaker and spend time with our children, Rohan (25) and Anjolie (19), both currently working and studying in London.
India Se: How and when did you decide to turn entrepreneur?
Sharmila Arora: Once my children left, I felt the yearning once again to follow a passion, and fashion was always one of my interests.
I found my ideal connect in my dear friend and business partner, Dipika Bedi, who amazingly came from a similar background and mind-set herself, and thus the conception of All That Jazz – Creating Experiences.
India Se: Tell us about your journey so far?
Sharmila Arora: As the name suggests, we are about ‘creating experiences’ i.e. experiences related to fashion, music, art and lifestyle.
Dipika and I both have a keen and sharp eye for fashion and began our collaborations with fashion promotions for charity, and eventually our work spoke for itself as we started getting approached by well-known designers from India, who wanted us to promote them through our contacts and marketing skills here in Singapore. We have a very exclusive and wide reaching database, and this along with our ability to “connect’ has helped us pull crowds, hosting premiere events in the market today.
We compliment each other in our workspace, with different aptitudes and skills, and that has helped us grow steadily in our business. Our events have our special touches, and our attention to detail is widely appreciated. Our designers value our guidance during curation, and it’s always a pleasure to see the smiling faces of our guests at our events.
India Se: What is your personal style?
Sharmila Arora: I don’t generally follow trends, just get ‘inspired”. Sometimes following what’s “in” is not necessarily conducive to one’s personality, lifestyle or body type. Age is an important factor too, and my mantra is to always be a little “critical” when seeing your mirror image..
Class and elegance in style comes from being effortless, yet graceful.
The saree of course remains my eternal favourite, and I look forward to draping it as i love its femininity and “Indianess”, as it reminds me of the rich heritage of the country it originates from.
India Se: Tell us a little about yourself?
Dipika Bedi: I was born in Calcutta but grew up in Mumbai and went to school there. My father was an engineer and worked in the corporate world while my mother was a school teacher. I have two younger siblings and we grew up as independent children. I majored in political science and economics from St. Xavier’s college. Post college I went into advertising for a summer internship and that became my chosen path. I worked for 10 years in Bombay in Client Servicing starting in a small firm called Frank Simoes, then Lintas and Ogilvy & Mather.
I got married whilst working and followed my banker husband, Harmeet to Singapore in 1998 and it’s been 20 years to date here! Having young children I didn’t resume a full time job but did lots of small business in selling Indian art for about 4-5 years and took advantage of the art boom in India and partnered with an art gallery in India to do shows in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Then I dabbled with fashion for a bit again with a partner from India and had a few exhibitions. And then I finally started freelancing for charity and fashion events which led to the creation of All That Jazz – Creating Experiences!
I have two children. My son Karan is 20 years and just finished his two years of National service and is headed to university in the US at the end of August this year. My daughter Anisha is 17 and currently finishing her high school studies at UWC Dover and graduates next year.
India Se: You both seem to be passionate about fashion and the finer things of life. How did you develop this interest? Do you have a natural eye for beauty or did you have to cultivate it?
Dipika Bedi: As you can see the interest was developed as being exposed to advertising, fashion and art and this exposure has created a keen eye for the finer things of life.
Also my parents always kept a beautiful home with lots of lovely art and artefacts and with a bit of travel this added to creating an eye for beauty so it was definitely developed over time with some basic sense that already existed!
India Se: How would you define your own style? And do you believe in trends?
Dipika Bedi: My style is more chic and understated elegance. I wear more pants, jeans, dhotis. I am crazy about collecting nice tops and I think I have a decent eye for them. I enjoy wearing Indian clothes but only for occasions! I think style is very personal and for me it relates to my body type and the clothes should complement the silhouette and especially in your 50’s you have to move towards being more elegant. I am happy to follow trends as long as it works for me. There is so much of talent out there with all the fashion designers we see and who take part in our shows so we do have an updated fashion sense.