In Conversation with Mridul Sawhney from AM Branding.co on Starting a Branding Agency for Fashion Brands
Founded by @mrisawhney her partner in crime Aviral Rungta, @ambranding.co has become a go-to name for various luxury Indian brands like Saaksha Kinni, Lara Morakhia, Arpita Mehta, Kunal Rawal, Anushree Reddy, Jayanti Reddy to name a few.
Branding has become such an integral part of distinguishing yourself from the competitors. Every brand is built to be a true representation of who you are as a business, and how you wish to be perceived. Compelling brands are relevant, have strong brand stories, and have a consistent style. Join us in conversation with Mridul on how AM Branding is dedicated to creating clients who are unafraid of disrupting the status quo to build iconic brands.
1. Tell us when you started AM branding, your journey to kick off this fashion and luxury branding agency, and your learning and growth over the years.
AM Branding Co. was established in 2017. After 3 years of working with ace designers & freelancing with some budding designers, I realized the need of the hour – refined visual communication. Brands in India had realized the importance of unique authentic branding & Instagram made it easy for people to find us.
Over the years I think I had the advantage of starting out early, I started working when I was 17 years old. Be it helping out my elder sister with her business or finding smaller freelances in Bangalore where I was studying Fashion Communication at NIFT. Instagram was the new trend at that time and I remember realizing how unorganized content was being posted and felt the need to refine it for my clients.
2. What are the pillars of AM Branding, how is it different from the rest of the existing agencies in Delhi/Mumbai?
AM Branding Co. is by all means a product of pure love & passion. It was a result of endless discussions about my dreams with my husband & partner in the business – Aviral Rungta. It is a result of his support & belief in my vision and a result of my team coming together to work in a happy atmosphere. For us, the most important thing is honesty in our work & dealing. We don’t compare ourselves with any agency in the world because we don’t work on a strict professional base, for us this will always be a personalized boutique studio where individuals come together to build on my aesthetic and collaborate with brands to build iconic identities.
3. What is your take on originality and authenticity in the fashion communication field in India? How important is it?
Probably the most important thing. We need to realize that due to the abundance of messaging around us 24/7 it becomes important to stand out. Our viewers and customers are smarter than ever, the energy you put into your work is what they will eventually receive.
4. What is your take on fashion education in India? How important or unimportant is it to build a niche or thrive in the Indian fashion landscape?
There is no future without education, it is the best gift and blessing you can receive as it sets the foundation of anything you aspire to be in life. In terms of fashion, I think colleges will introduce you to various subjects but the intensity of absorbing it all depends on self-study and observation. In today’s time if you wish to thrive in the fashion industry you need to back your output with never-ending knowledge as that is going to help all your pitches.
5. What inspires you on the daily?
I really like to make everything around me beautiful, be it for my family or my clients. Be it creating happy spaces at home or beautiful visuals on social media – I think this is my sole purpose in life, to just live the most beautiful and happy life you can.
6. Who is your ideal customer and how do you speak to them?
Our ideal customer is the one who believes in authentic branding as much as we do. We strictly apply no copying rules to our work & we appreciate it when clients want to invent and not follow trends.
Our tone & messaging on Instagram or when we personally meet clients is to lay down our terms of only working with pure honesty and keeping our communication as clear as possible. If they align their thoughts with us, we move forward and collaborate with them.
7. Graphics and digital art. How important is it to have a unique identity online?
The most important thing – Instagram is your personality, it is up to you to decide whether it will be unique like every human being is or impersonate somebody.
8. Building brands: The pros and cons of working in fashion?
I think the fact that you can be who you are without fearing to stand out because fashion does appreciate a unique flair or a strong different personality. It takes determination and consistency to make yourself visible, but once you make a mark it is smooth sailing from there.
Cons: The pay scale, although I am grateful that today we are getting paid correctly for our work but starting out the pay scale was extremely low.
10. How big is your team, and what is the importance of a good team?
I have 7 in-house people working at the studio + on-call team for projects like photoshoots. We have a tech team on-call for our website projects.
Your team literally makes you and I am totally aware of this fact. We have welcomed each member with love and warmth & try to make them as comfortable as possible at the workspace. In return, they support us in making all our projects a success.
Gone are the days when you could work in a typical stressful office environment, as I have been an employee myself, I always knew that when I started my business, I would never bring in any kind of negativity in my tone, at our studio or in our commitments to our team.
11. How useful was your undergrad degree and were you able to successfully apply everything that you were taught in your business now?
Frankly yes, Fashion communication is such a vast field where you get to learn new subjects every semester. The fact that we could do our submissions on time in college made me realize I can definitely do all the multi-tasking required to run a business with multiple clients. The idea definitely started budding in college & then one thing led to another to result in AM.
12. What is the most important value you deliver to your customers?
Prompt support, an ethical working relationship, personalized attention & we promise what we can deliver – nothing more or less! 13. What were the challenges you faced as a young entrepreneur?
When I started out as a fresher, I did not understand the concept of raising invoices or firmly stating an advance policy etc which is why I got fooled a few times. Getting unpaid was another issue because being a student we just wanted to survive and were too scared to lose a project if we bargained too much.
I worked for almost 3 years to save up and have enough money to start my own studio, get equipment and the exposure I needed.
Biggest issues were to sign up clients who would stretch you beyond your capacity just because you were a fresher trying to keep them happy. Today I am in a position to say no or voice my thoughts and my clients are respectful but back in the day, you know how it is when you are new and starting out you have a problem of saying YES to 1 million changes!
13. 5 tips for young people looking to venture into building an agency or a fashion brand as a business?
1. Consistency is important
2. Build your own blueprint
3. Back your pitches with intense knowledge
4. Stand your ground & deliver what you promise
5. Earn relationships before money