Sakal Times

Interview: Naadia Mirza Dotted i

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Naadia Mirza through her company ‘Dotted i’ curates unique surprises and experiences that are custom made and bespoke.

In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, events have got a new dimension – of being picture worthy. Well think of things like a dinner date with a celebrity chef, a Cleopatra milk bath, or a tree house experience. Intrigued? Say hello to ‘Dotted i’ by Naadia Mirza the go to place to surprise your partner, arrange bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays and corporate events. A one-stop destination for all your party essentials, gourmet food, personalised gifting, hampers, themed parties and more Mirza set up ‘Dotted i’ in 2009. She tells us more in this exclusive conversation.

Tell us about your early years and where you always interested in organizing events?

I grew up in a second generation Iranian household. My family was persistent about perfection. I grew up in a family where this was followed to the T, especially in our businesses in the hospitality sector. From the age of 4, I have accompanied my dad to work sites. Our house and office was right next to each other and we always talked shop at home. Very naturally I picked up skill sets and the interest to work on this. I was always interested in organising birthdays, celebrations and events. It is still fresh in my memory how I landed the first birthday I organised. I had circulated posters about “making birthdays special,” at my neighbourhood bakery. Someone noticed it and gave me a ring and what started as a hobby converted into my business.

Dotted i Experiences
Dotted i Experiences

For someone who started working in event management at 16, how do you look back at your journey to date?

I started working to customise events from a young age, but the journey has definitely been fruitful. When I look back at my journey I used to work with paper and curated smaller events that were detailed. With over two decades of experience in creating over 10000 events, I recognize a huge growth through each of them. Unlike other industries, the creative industry requires experience to push processes. I am glad that when clients describe their needs, I am able to envision, sketch and execute events that have always exceeded client expectations. Through all my years at ‘Dotted i’, as a brand we have been able to understand customers, their preferences and needs. This has helped us create the eccentric gifting solutions that we have and has been quite a journey from a suitcase store to a 100 employee company. This year, we also revamped our website and experience inventory adding to it more than 2000 products and 100 services.

Creativity is never easy – tell us how you manage to ensure that you are always creative?

In order to be creative, one has to be humble and look around oneself. Creative inputs will come from inspiration in any form. I am constantly inspired by everything around me. I love travelling and during my travels I always look forward to visiting souk markets. The fast-pace of cities, the smells and colours of a market, the serenity of the countryside- all this has inspired me to curate and design the experiences we have at ‘Dotted i’. As a mother of a toddler, I am able to draw out ideas even from children’s books and comics. The key is to be open-minded and keep an eye out for themes, concepts and ideas that might pop up in the most unexpected places.

When did you start Dottedi and what is the kind of work you do?

Though I have been involved in celebrations since the age of 16, ‘Dotted i’ as a brand was established in 2009 and I was clear that it was going to be a fun, quirky brand that made celebrations memorable for all. In the initial years we were primarily focusing on customised cakes and gifts. But the idea is to keep up with the trends and constantly reinventing the idea of gifting. In 2017, we launched ‘Dotted i Surprises’ that brought into the Indian market the concept of “experiential gifting”.

Dotted i Experiences
Dotted i Experiences

How does the whole process work?

We are event designers and create an experience like no other. Be it a small birthday or a large scale experience, we ensure that we get a detailed brief from the client. Based on the brief we create a mood board that we use to coordinate every element at the event.

What has been your most challenging assignment to date and why?

The most challenging event till date has been the Christmas festivities at the Bangalore Airport. We had about 150 people working round-the-clock with a 48 hour deadline. We were putting up 12 instillations and the challenge was the high-security that was present due to the festive season. We could not leave anything unattended at any point of time. This assignment in particular helped me to take more risks on site with the business.

How do you handle competition in your field?

Being in the creative space, I am fascinated by every new and innovative idea from anyone in the industry. Hence there aren’t any competition as such. We are not in the “mass market”, we are in the customisation space. Clients that know me and ‘Dotted i’ always come back. Competition is never a threat. It pushes you to up your game.

Dotted i Experiences
Dotted i Experiences

What are the trends you are seeing in the event management space?

People are getting a lot more aware. Last season was all things bright and over-the-top. This season has definitely been about organic and minimal. Organic from food to decor and minimal is not just “simple”. Putting together something “minimal” and aesthetic is a lot more difficult. Intimate gatherings and local sourcing for all elements is another trend in the event management space. Another trend I have noticed is a direct correlation between fashion and the event industry. Over three years ago, the fashion industry was filled with neons and the event space as well. Now, it has moved on to more pastels and pinks. Millennials are driving the industry right now.

Tell us something of your future plans.

Making ‘Dotted i’ “India’s best unique gifting brand” and creating memories is a vision of mine. I don’t want to be the biggest in number but I want to be the biggest in putting a smile on my clients’ faces. Constantly revolutionizing and redefining gifting is very exciting for me and my team at ‘Dotted i’.

This story first appeared in Sakal Times dated Nov 21, 2019 here:

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