Hailing from one of the oldest business families in South India, and married into the prestigious KG group, the number of in-house options for ShriVyshnavi Annush was quite endless. Yet, the talented “true-blue Coimbatorian” as she calls herself, wanted to test unknown waters with her calling towards fashion and design.
It may have seemed a risky move at first, but barely a year on, her online-curated fashion accessories portal Pookaari has blossomed into one of the most exciting start-ups, which showcases accessories from different Indian designers based on monthly trends. “I did my masters in software engineering at PSG College of Technology. After my graduation, I was involved in an Internet services company called Gurukulam Inc for a couple of years, which provided homework help to children from KG to 12 in the US. Then I got involved in textiles, my family’s core business, while we also have diversified interests in healthcare, education (we own and run three schools as part of our charitable trust) and real estate. While I was part of it, I dabbled a bit in investments trying to learn the ropes. But all the jobs that I worked in felt like jobs... so I decided to pursue my passion — hence Pookaari.com was born!” she exclaims.
There was no debate about setting up in a small city, she says — adding that it was time to give back to the city, and inspite of a non-existent ecosystem for an e-commerce business, building an own vendor network is what Coimbatorians do best.
She explains, “I believe that there is a dearth of access to exclusive fashion accessories in most cities in India. If you’re not living in a Delhi or a Mumbai, there is very limited reach. This is the gap that Pookaari fills. The business model is a multi-designer pop-up model, and we also showcase different looks every week on our blog.”
With social media playing a big role in increasing the brand’s visibility, Vyshnavi mentions prominent designers by association such as Lakme Fashion week designer duo, The Quirkbox, who designed an exclusive line of necklaces for Pookaari — and Valliyan by Nitya Arora, whose jewellery is seen on Bollywood stars. “Personally, I’m a fashion chameleon — I dress and accessorise depending on my mood and day, but there’s always something quirky about my style. My mother always stressed upon dressing impeccably and not for other people but for yourself. Also, living in a small town like Coimbatore, people know who you are and that plays a big role in how I dress,” she quips.
Vyshnavi is also an active member of Young Indians, a part of CII, and on the board of her father’s trust that focuses on restoring the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu, but she’s most proud of her role as the Chairperson of FLO: Ficci Ladies Organisation. “We focus on women empowerment at all levels from the grass roots to the corporate level. I have launched ‘Shakthi’ — a girl child abuse awareness campaign where we target underprivileged schools in the first phase. We conduct cancer awareness and screening drives in the rural suburbs of Coimbatore, encourage budding women entrepreneurs, skill workshops for tribal and destitute women and offer them training in tailoring and nursing free of cost, as well as have eminent speakers addressing our members and sharing their journeys.”
Outside her various work and social avatars, the proud wife and mother of two girls aged nine and 11, feels fitness is important and enjoys trekking and running. “I also love to travel and experiencing different cultures. My husband, my in-laws and my parents are very supportive and play a huge role in shaping my children. My husband Annush, an active member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organisation), headed the Global Student Entrepreneurship last year, also oversees Strategic Partnerships on a national level in Young Indians, and is a huge source of inspiration to me,” she says.