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05.04.2017

While péro’s love and the love for péro seems to multiply magically, as if blessed by some invisible hand, there is an important force at the heart of the company. Jasmeet Arora, who calls himself “Chief Believer” rather than CEO, joined his sister Aneeth two and a half years ago. Busting in on him at their wonderful Patparganj studio – where clothes are archived, not just displayed – he takes his time to talk to us, confessing that this might be his first-ever interview.

“I like punctual people, and I’m very punctual myself… usually early,” Jasmeet begins, ordering green tea, filing a tax return and making notes all at the same time. Immediately conversation-worthy is the soft, flower-printed, obviously péro shirt that he wears this afternoon – just one of the indications that he is fully invested in this “new fashion business life,” a massive, massive change from his previous avatar as a marketing guy at Citibank and Hindustan Unilever.

While his work in these life episodes was ostensibly about selling credit cards, oral care, atta and salt, it was here that Jasmeet learnt the tricks of the much larger trade: how to manage businesses worth Rs 200 crore or more, how to read in to the tastes of the affluent, how to wear suits everyday and reconcile his own natural inclination towards the understated with a culture built on showing what you have and having what you show.

While the change from corporate suit to flower-printed shirt makes it seem as if Jasmeet’s before and after are irreconcilable, he suggests that it is his past that makes his present work. Since joining péro – a brand he refers to as one run by his “younger sister who is older in the company” – Jasmeet has introduced new practices borrowed from corporate culture that help fuel the homegrown, love-based, handcrafted company.

He wears a soft, flower-printed, obviously péro shirt this afternoon – just one of the indications that he is fully invested in this “new fashion business life,” a massive, massive change from his previous avatar as a marketing guy at Citibank and Hindustan Unilever.

“Things are getting organized here,” he explains, showing us employee swipe cards, introduced to both monitor and credit workers for their commitment; a close-to-anal social media posting calendar which ensures that #peopleofpero – who are online mostly at 1 and 9pm – are given good, clean, and well-thought-out content. It’s working: Jasmeet’s systems of organization, which prioritize customer satisfaction and employee efficiency above all, have made March (the big order month) bigger than ever before – he tells us, without batting an eyelid, that the company turnover has grown 3x since him and Aneeth came together.

Also, few clients know that péro's entire staff team are taken on an out of town trip every year, and are encouraged to enjoy themselves to the fullest on this all-paid-for vacation. Train tickets and nice hotel rooms are booked three months in advance, and the excitement in the workshop is palpable for weeks pre-trip; this year they are headed to Udaipur, which promises to be a binge.

While the division between Aneeth and Jasmeet’s work is clear, more recently, Jasmeet says he has been able to understand the psyche of the péro customer, and what makes them special. While affluence may be a thread that runs through his shopping demographic, more powerful are the other patterns he finds: loyalists tend to be smart, well-read, understated, self-aware but not vain, and people that really think about their clothes. “These clothes take a lot of work to make, the process requires a lot of effort and so it tends to draw in people who also in some way, like to labor hard for something,” he explains.

Naturally, the conversation drifts to celebrities like Kiran Rao, who apparently confessed that she wanted to “rip the clothes off the models” in the last show; Arundhati Roy who “spends the entire day at the studio when she comes to shop;” and Dayanita Singh who is a client as much as an inspiration. When we ask Jasmeet to name a non-client, but another Indian maker who he feels is similar to péro, he cites Jugmug Thela, the chai brand, for their ability to do something very basic and humble, but put the hard work into making it a luxury.  

We also ask about Jasmeet’s several tattoos, which are a mix of prayers and odes to his family. He tells us about his marathon count, which again, only emphasizes his determination to keep climbing, keep going, slowly and steadily.

The only crack, and that too a crack that eventually cements, is his confession that unlike other fashion makers, he can really, really enjoy a show – “the rush of music, the great models, the ambiance…. I can really take it in,” he says, smiling.  We point out that we noticed his ease at the last show, but also noticed that he was the first one to get up after the final line-up. It’s probably because vendors were lining up for orders even before the applause had drowned out.  

 

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