We chat about the journey, meeting ‘The Queen’ at Buckingham Palace and what it all means.
We recently caught up with Vanita Dhand-Panchal, Co-founder of Capra NV to chat about her newly launched brand, exciting entrepreneurial journey and meeting HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Vanita has been in business for over 20 years, worked corporately, ran businesses since 2001 and just released a new British designed and manufactured luxury collection of writing instruments and watches.
Capra NV is a high-end brand which has taken three years of designing, prototyping and lots of R&D to create the collection launched in October 2016. The company combines decades of high-level manufacturing knowledge with the ultimate in craftsmanship delivering exceptional pieces made with advanced materials and Formula 1 technology. The collections consist of stylishly designed writing instruments and watches, all meticulously produced in England.
Vanita has experienced some truly memorable moments and shares some highlights from her journey including transitioning from the corporate world to business owner, winning an International Technology Award and her surreal meeting with HRH Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
My ambition was developed at an early age being the daughter of a Business person. I enjoyed all aspects of the world of business which led me to study Business and Economics at College and University. Whilst studying my BA (Hons) at University my Father would discuss business opportunities with me and I also learnt a lot by assisting him with his property business.
Being a business owner to me means doing what I love, working on something I have developed and taken to market. It’s a great feeling knowing that the person investing in your product appreciates and values it.
I was fortunate as part of my Masters Degree I worked on a project which became an International Business within the airline industry. Whilst working there I learned a lot about the world of international business and how to manage people.
My first start-up was an elite events company which proved to be an amazing experience filled with lots of opportunity to learn. It was a very steep learning curve but I was passionate about what I was doing and worked hard to acquire the knowledge I needed.
It is not easy to start a business. There are so many aspects to look at, make sure you research your sector and market well. This is an important start to having your own business. Of course then produce a Business plan looking at all aspects of the business.
There’s a lot of information available on the internet these days and good organizations who are able to provide advice on the basics. I found the biggest factor after having looked and researched the market is to have the passion and drive and commitment not to falter if you make mistakes.
One learns from making mistakes. There isn’t one Entrepreneur who has not made mistakes. The key is to learn from them and move forward. It is important to believe in yourself and follow your instincts too. If you have an idea, write it down and explore the potential.
I had a business partner in the past who understood the media aspect of the market. We took on very definite roles in the company which I feel is important if you are going into business with another and make sure you know them well.
I think there is always an element of fear which then becomes the driver to push one forward to look at all the possible variables. Look at the market along with each aspect of the business closely and have various plans in place.
One of our biggest fears was market acceptance so we allocated a lot of R&D to ensure our products reflected consumer wants and the collection has been well received.
Running my own business to me means independence. Instead of trying to fit into a corporate environment that was not designed for me, I am able to create a business culture that is conducive to the type of life I want to lead. As a business owner you also learn something new every day and to a certain degree you are able to choose who you work with.
The challenges can vary for every business owner. However, I feel that financing and funding a new business can be difficult if you don’t have a solid financial plan.
Another challenge may be staffing. Employing people who will work well with you and your team can also become a major issue. It’s not just about filling the role when one is recruiting, it’s finding someone that genuinely wants to contribute, who can take some of the responsibility so it’s not all on the business owner.
My business journey has been inspired by many people. I have been fortunate to have my Father and Husband. My husband has been so supportive in giving me the courage to set up my business and to develop further businesses.
The designer and co-founder is my husband and after working in the very high end engineering market, it seemed a natural fit to combine our manufacturing knowledge with our creative vision to develop a premium brand ‘Capra NV’ within the Luxury sector.
Enjoy what you do and know your Market. Don’t take short cuts as they can end up costing more time and money.
Do your homework. Know the market and company you’re entering. Good interpersonal skills can get you far. Be a networker and be willing to work at all levels to understand each part of the business or company. And remember, setting up a business is not a 9 to 5 job, you will need to eat sleep and drink it! Which is why one needs to do what they know and enjoy.
What Does It Take
DREAM BIG Set your goals and work towards them. Not everyone will agree with them but have the strength and conviction to believe in them.
BEGIN Getting started can be the hardest aspect of all, but just do it! Get the ball rolling, do your research and start your business do not procrastinate! Fear will halt everything.
RISK Every successful person takes risks. You will have to sacrifice something or a number of things to make the business happen but this is the all part of the journey. It all makes you stronger.
SUPPORT Try to surround yourself with positive people as this will help keep you focused and encourage you to keep going. Do not listen to those who say it’s not possible. People like Richard Branson would not have achieved everything they have if they had listened to all the negativity.
RESEARCH Always look to analyze everything. If you are testing the market with your product, ensure you analyze what the results show.
CONNECT Business owners must Network as it’s a way to not only meet people who can bring you more business but also a way to connect you with others and share information.
Resources and Tools
Join organizations and networks as you can learn so much by sharing information with others experiencing similar issues and from those who have achieved substantial business success.
I was extremely surprised to receive the Queens ‘Professional & Academic Achievement Award’ as a result of being confidentially nominated by a member of staff where I studied my BA(Hons) Business degree. I had developed the first electronic order processing system for the International Inflight catering industry called (IFCA) and was shocked to find out that I was a candidate.
I became aware of the nomination after receiving an invitation to attend a notable event at Buckingham Palace and had no idea what it was all about. I followed up the invitation and was greeted by a delightful official who was congratulating me on making it to the finals and being a finalist from 5000 candidates.
It all started when I developed a system in 1996 pre the e-shopping system we all use now on the internet. This was a first system of its type and it was entered into the world ‘International Flight Catering Awards’ which is called The ‘Mercury Awards’. I was the youngest having to present the system to a panel of international airline industry “bosses” from around the world.
A few months later the award ceremony was held and my category was ‘Technology’ and I was up against big international airline companies. There was a Bronze, Silver and Gold category award. I remember sitting there thinking Bronze has gone, silver has gone and I’m not going to be called out. However, then I heard my product name followed by my company name and I couldn’t move I wasn’t sure I had heard it correctly.
I was sitting at the table with the Managing Director of my company and other heads of departments from my company they all started saying “go it’s you”. I remember thinking I hope I don’t trip in my shoes and the walk along the stage seemed a long walk. It truly was an amazing moment in my life!
However, the day I visited Buckingham Palace for an elegant reception was a surreal experience. I met some amazing people that evening such as the other deserved winners with disabilities who had achieved great things against all odds. I was so excited meeting members of the Royal Family and completely mesmerized when I met The Queen!
I remember The Queen walking in my vicinity she then stopped shook my hand and spoke to me. I couldn’t believe that HRH Queen Elizabeth II had stopped and spoken to me. Meeting The Queen, even today when I play it all back in my mind is like a dream. The Queen is a remarkable woman and has a great sense of humor. It was a truly magical moment and an experience I will always cherish.
We have launched the writing instruments and are looking to expand the range with fountain pens. We are also launching our Men’s and Women’s watch collections early next year.
I love what I do because… I am able to be part of the whole process of creating and producing collections.
Never be afraid of… achieving your dream!
My greatest talent is… I don’t think it’s a talent but I do love learning about people and being able to get on with people from all walks of life.
My biggest challenge is… doing my best at work and home.
I overcame that challenge by… having a supportive husband and family.
When starting a business one must… keep going as the road to setting up your own business is seldom free of issues and problems.
Most rewarding career moment so far… There have been so many it is difficult to choose. I would say being at Buckingham Palace meeting The Queen was very rewarding.
Best project … too many to name all have been special in their own way!
I’ve loved being part of… whole process of developing a new product and seeing people love it as much as we do.
On designing… and being part of the process of the item coming to life is a very personal and satisfying part of the business.
I never go to work without… my Capra Pen, the Emmissary X in red with precious Garnet and my IPhone!
I hope to one day… be in a world where we can live in harmony and leave the world a good place for the coming generations.
In my spare time I like to… spend time with family and love travelling with my husband.
My favorite fashion designers are… there are so many I like. Ralph Lauren for day and casual, love Chanel for their classic suits and bags, Dolce and Gabbana for their dresses as I love the colour red which is featured throughout the Dolce and Gabbana collections.
My favorite beauty products are… Christian Dior Face creams and their make-up range. I love their colour pallets and their Dream cream.
On the look… I love smart casual and love a good LBD or red Dress.
Every girl needs… love, laughter and a best friend!
On perfection… no one is perfect but we can all work to be better, kinder versions of ourselves!
I absolutely love… reading autobiographies and true stories about people who have achieved against all the odds on a personal level.
Happiness is… a personal journey which everyone is on to find. I wake up grateful and appreciate life, family and friends.
Success means… being happy and being able to give back be it to the next generation or those who are less fortunate!
Living the dream means… knowing your loved ones are well and said by Harriet Tubman “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
My favorite quote is…“Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.” Robert Green Ingersoll
On every day… live life to the full wake up with gratitude in your heart which in turn makes me happy!
On purpose… life is what we make it. It is no dress rehearsal! Be Kind and have compassion!
On living… live to the full. Be kind! Be grateful! and enjoy making the memories.
CAPRA NV – http://www.capranv.com
Thank you Vanita Panchal for sharing your impressive journey with us and our readers. We believe you are a truly wonderful inspiration for all women innovative, dedicated & accomplished . – Demi Karan – CEO/Founder, Heels Agency