Saturday, June 22, 2024

Inspired by tradition, infused by modernity

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This week for our weekly edition of Hyderabond, The Pioneer brings to you our interaction with Angelique Dhama, CEO of Obeetee Carpets, who have recently launched their flagship store here in Hyderabad.

Amartya Smaran

Angelique Dhama, CEO of Obeetee Carpets, aims to spread the 100-year-old tradition of the carpet-making company across India. A few months ago, the century-old Obeetee Carpets launched its first-ever flagship store in Hyderabad at Jubilee Hills.

For this week’s edition of Hyderabond, The Pioneer connects with Angelique Dhama, who shares what she likes about the city and why Hyderabad could be the best place for someone who’s just starting out.

Born in Calcutta, Angelique pursued her English Honors degree and, soon after graduating, took up the role of a flight attendant. The repetitiveness of the job pushed her to make the much-needed switch. Although she initially found it difficult to find a job that would pay an equal amount, in 1996, a businessman who was setting up retail operations in Kathmandu, Nepal, approached her. He was keen on hiring someone with no experience and fixed notions about the retail industry.

The 22-year-old Angelique took up the job, and for one year she spent time understanding the trade. After her training period, she moved to Chennai and set up successful luxury brands like Swarovski and Lladro. Angelique mastered the retail trade and stuck with the company for 11 years. Then she made a segue into the fashion industry and worked in Bombay for three years before she moved to Timex.

Her journey with Obeetee began ten years ago when she got a call to join the company. “At first, I was hesitant because I had previously worked with very large brands.I was not aware of the legacy. The person who called me said, “Angelique, you’ve been selling international brands in India. Now, you start selling Indian brands internationally”. It sounded interesting. So, I took up that experience, and for the last two years, I wanted to make sure that this brand was known in India. We opened our stores in Delhi, Mumbai, and now Hyderabad. We’re also planning to launch a store in Kolkata,” said Angelique.

In the process of setting up the first ever Obeetee store in Hyderabad, she has travelled to the city six times now, and she shared, “When you come from North India to set up something in South India, you are a bit skeptical. The scepticism comes from, “Will we be accepted?” That’s the big challenge. I have lived in Chennai for eight years. The people are really lovely there, but there is a language barrier. So it was quite challenging. Before we launched the store in Hyderabad, we did some reconnaissance and met some architects and interior designers, and I was made to feel very welcome. Everybody was very excited that all the brands were finally coming to Hyderabad. They were happy that they didn’t have to go outside to source products. Most of the time, they were either going to Delhi, Bombay, or Bengaluru. For the last two years, brands have been eyeing Hyderabad.”

Talking more about the City of Nawabs, Angelique said, “I really like the Hyderabad biryani, and it’s a beautiful city with lovely people. We did this show and met around 100 architects, and everyone was so warm. People here don’t say things just for the sake of it. If they say they’ll come, they come and support us. Also, the city shares that synergy with carpets, and people need no introduction to carpets here. The city is used to the culture of carpets, and it’s not a new culture. It’s just a matter of availability.”

Looking at how enthusiastically she spoke about the city, we wondered if she’d ever move here in the near future. When asked about it, she quipped, “I’m done with all that experimentation. I am from Kolkata, and I worked in Chennai, Mumbai, and now Delhi. I have a pretty stable family life in Delhi. There’s no chance of me rooting and coming to another city.”

However, she has some interesting things to say to those who are considering making a move to Hyderabad. “When my colleague asked me if she could be posted in the city, I asked her what’s so exciting about the city. You know, there’s this buzz that’s happening in the city. You guys are having a moment. The city is expanding in terms of technology and infrastructure, such as roads and buildings, and it would be wonderful to live here. There’s a lovely airport where you land, and there’s definitely a method to the madness. The whole city looks beautiful.”

She further added: “I think I would say that expect a very westernised South City. When you go to the south, you think it’s very traditional and conventional, but with this city, there’s heritage also, and suddenly you’ll see rocks coming out of a building, and then there’s a huge multinational building. You know, it is a happening place, and for youngsters who’re going to start out in their careers, it is an amazing place.”

“We definitely want to be one of the top three brands in India when it comes to home. For the first time, there’s a standalone store in Hyderabad. We came here with a lot of conviction because we believe there is a market here,” Angelique concluded.

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