Talking Career Transitions with Fashion Designer Bhavana Jain of BhavyJ Designs
Feature Image by Bhavana Jain
From pharmacist to fashion, Bhavana Jain takes us through her journey of becoming a designer of her own brand. Once an established pharmacist, Bhavana took an uncomfortable step toward her passion for clothing design. She worked full-time while in design school pursuing her dreams of one day sharing her clothing creations with the world. Her clothing designs are both versatile and sophisticated which allows women to feel comfortable at their office or out to dinner with their friends. Here, Bhavana chats with us about everything from career transitions to her words of wisdom for aspiring fashion designers.
Let’s start from the beginning. What is your educational background? In what ways has this helped you with your design career today?
I’m a pharmacist by profession. I’ve been practicing as a pharmacist since 2006. I started taking fashion design classes in 2009 while I was working in pharmacy full time. I completed a certificate in fashion entrepreneurship a few years later and it was during this time that I had already started putting the pieces together for my business. My fashion design classes helped me understand the fundamentals of clothing making. Also, through many fashion classes I was able to get a taste of the industry and it allowed me to have a platform to create and experiment with different types of fabrics and designs.
In the creative sense, do you feel like clothing design was always the clear career path for you? Was there a specific moment that sparked your interest in the field?
Fashion design was not always the clear choice for me. As a young child, I had aspirations to be a doctor like my father but I was also very talented in art. Drawing and designing were ingrained in my DNA and that is what really brought me joy. As I became older, and it was time to make a career choice, I decided to continue the path of fulfilling my father’s dream of becoming a doctor. When I was not able to get into medical school, I decided to explore Pharmacy. I was admitted to Pharmacy school and was excited to start my new career!
After a few years of working in pharmacy, I started to feel like something was missing in life. I needed to share my true gift with the world and that was through fashion and design. I started taking evening fashion design classes while working in Pharmacy full time. I enjoyed the creative aspect of fashion because it allowed me to express myself as an artist. As time went by, it slowly started becoming clear to me that fashion was my calling. It was then that I started to put the pieces together for my business and three years later I launched the first collection of BhavyJ Designs
When you chose a career path in clothing design, were the people around you supportive of this decision? If not, how did you handle this negativity?
When I was younger, I always dreamed of being a physician like my father. Yet I was torn with pursuing a degree in art, which was something I excelled in. As I became older, and it was time to choose a career path, I thought about majoring in art but my parents convinced me that pursuing a career in healthcare would be the safest option. Later, when I was established in my career and had made a decision to start my own clothing line, my friends and family were very supportive of my dreams. I don’t think I would have been able to come this far without their love and support.
Is your mission behind BhavyJ Designs the same today as it was when you first began? If not, how has it shifted?
The core mission of BhavyJ Designs, which is to design for the modern woman, has stayed true throughout my journey. Sophistication and versatility are the hallmarks of BhavyJ Designs. So I try to stick to a simple mission- find amazing fabrics from around the globe, and combine them with classic silhouettes and thoughtful details to create timeless pieces that you can feel comfortable in no matter where your day takes you.
What sets your designs at BhavyJ Designs apart from other designers?
The thing that sets BhavyJ Designs apart from other designers is the quality of fabrics that are used in our designs. Some of the fabrics are imported from Europe. These fabrics are not only of high quality, but easy to take care of and above all very unique! Another thing that stands out about BhavyJ Designs is the attention to design details. We incorporate floral motifs, embroidery techniques, and other subtle design details that represent my Indian culture.
Starting your own business for the first time can be challenging. What was one of your fears, and how did you overcome this?
There are many challenges and fears when starting your own business. One of my biggest fears was women not purchasing my designs. It sounds crazy but I was sharing a piece of myself with the world, and the fear of having no customers was scary! I understood that not everyone would relate to my designs and I knew it would take time to build a customer base. The way I worked through this was by taking it one day at a time. I told myself that you have to put your work out there with confidence and see what people’s response is. Instead of looking at it as a fear, I told myself to embrace it as a celebration of how far I have come. Not many people have the opportunity to launch a fashion line! I told myself to take the critique/feedback as a learning experience and use the information to improve my business.
Did you have a specific mentor who helped you navigate your way through the design world? If not, how did you make connections that helped you get where you are today?
I come from a science background so when I had I decided to pursue a fashion career, I was in unfamiliar territory. I did a lot of research online on everything related to starting a new fashion line. Through research I met a lot of helpful people who in turn were willing to share their journey through this process, along with sharing valuable contacts in Chicago. Eventually, I came across a mentor who helped me navigate through the design process and the business side of things. There were a lot of people who played an important role in helping me launch my first collection.
In your professional opinion, are there specific skills or personality traits that one needs to thrive in the design/fashion field?
I think it’s important, but not necessary, to have specific skill to thrive in the fashion field. It’s helpful to know the basics of sewing, pattern making, etc., because once it comes time to work with other businesses, you can communicate with them easier. In terms of personality traits, I think in any field or business one should be confident, authentic, and most importantly have a strong work ethic. In the end, that is what makes you successful!
If you could tell an aspiring clothing designer one piece of advice, what would it be?
My advice for an aspiring fashion designer would be to always believe in yourself. Surround yourself with people who also believe in your vision and dream and will be your cheerleaders. It sounds so cliche but it’s really the core of success. There are so many times where you will be knocked down and criticized. Oftentimes, the things you thought would work will blow up in your face. But, it’s all part of the process and EVERYONE who is starting a new business goes through it. No matter how hard you try to avoid making other people’s mistakes, it will still happen. But take those mistakes as a chance to learn and grow and make sure you don’t repeat them.
Favorite type of cuisine?
Chicago style thin crust pizza!
I never leave home without my....
EpiPen. To many allergies.
If you could get coffee with any woman in the world, who would it be and why?
Mindy Kaling. She’s funny, smart, and a South Asian woman like me! She’s an inspiration,especially for me, because she was one of the first South Asian women to be successful in the TV/movie industry. It would be amazing to hear her story and learn from her experiences on her success.