IFJ India: Founder Interview Spotlight

March 24, 2022

IFJ India

Who are you and what’s your background?

I was born and raised in India, with short stints of study and a lot of international travel. I have a surprising background for an editor of a design publication, the background is in Economics (Masters) and further work experience in market research, which I still find fascinating and colors a lot of the way in which I work and present. Read more about IFJ India below.

What is your company? (IFJ India)

We are part of Universal Media Group (with interests in large scale and smaller events) and we, specifically, are the company specialized in publishing and design. (Index Media pvt ltd). We also do bespoke events around art and design (M.A. D : Music, Art, Design) and work on commissioned design projects (Such as Re-Imagine for the American Hardwood Export Council). My husband LA Khan, is a partner and the owner of a large trade fair (Index) which started us off on this journey.

What makes your company standout from its competitors?

My passion is to completely focus on being design-centric. IFJ started work with a large format trade fair on interiors, called Index, creating a design space called Index Design Boulevard. Back in the day (2008) no one really understood and any space dedicated to design was necessarily “wasted” space commercially as we rarely had revenues from this. But over the years the reputation of the group and all the products (trade fairs/conferences and seminars/events/publications) had the stamp of design, thanks to IFJ, and this lent a cachet that others simply could not ‘acquire’ and our key stakeholders, both the A+D community as well as suppliers (who are our clients) appreciate and value.

What led you to start your company? (IFJ India)

It was a love for design and the written word, the joy of turning a page and experiencing some new wonder in architecture and design and the fact that I was threatening to escape from the parent company unless I had something more inspiring than commerce to drive me, which got me some funding from the parent company.

What has the experience of building the business taught you?

That quality always sells! Never compromise design. Never compromise quality and people will appreciate you for it. Our publications have received appreciation from all over the world and are invited to visit fairs and participate at knowledge events worldwide. This is from China to across Europe and the US, and recently been named one of the leading design publications of the world at the Salone, which was truly gratifying. Also, quite obviously, I’d say “Don’t be an idiot with the revenues!” something I learned the hard way.

Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?

I imagine you mean influence in my choosing design as my work-space ? Design is really something that’s been a part of our family DNA despite everyone being a doctor or engineer or teacher. We were all brought up with books and frequent visits to museums and the many architectural wonders of India, as children. Later on we traveled all across the world. So I’d say the family, and our close connection with the written word and with the art and culture of our country and the world.

Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were just starting out?

Well, that publication is not easy! You need to keep an eye on where your revenues come from because I bashed on, driven by passion for both the A+D space and the written word and later realized how terribly expensive it all was, as I saw my money pouring into a void, from which nothing returned! Fortunately, clients saw the value of high production values and design and of course, we have positioned ourselves as beauty and brains, so our content is informative and (no surprise here!) research-based. This positioning has stood us in good stead, so finding the right position or niche is also key. And finally, there must be passion for the job at hand, or one will fall by the wayside!

Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years? Other future projects, the future for your company, family, etc. (IFJ India)

We are excited to think of the products morphing to accommodate new technology. We are trying to occupy multiple media platforms from social media and the net to having more and more engagement and interaction with our key stakeholders, the architects and designers.

Being a part of the fastest growing market in the world and one of the largest, the future looks good for most Indian companies, including ours. As we grow and reach toward multiple media, we feel there are so many more ways in which to interact. We are excited to explore this, both personally (for me) and as a team. We are a very nonhierarchical and passionate group and look to the future with hope and positivity.

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