Philu belongs to a family of creativity wherein her grandfather was a suit maker who used to stitch suits for the film stars of yesteryear such as Rajesh Khanna, and her grandmother was a florist who used to make artificial flowers so she has seen creativity around her right from a very young age. Philu always loved creativity to the core and she used to enjoy doing things out of the box right this trait of hers also became a part of her personality and eventually this led to her setting up her own label, ‘Philu Martins’.
“I am born and brought up in Mumbai but Goa has been my second home right from my childhood,” said Philu adding that she used to come down to Goa during the vacations and used to enjoy the nature and the beauty of this place. “I always loved nature and its colors, I still remember playing with the fallen leaves of the banyan tree and enjoying the crunchy sound of the dry leaves: it was like music for me played by nature. Maybe this is something that helped me later on getting into fashion designing and understanding the colours of fabric.”
According to Philu, as a young girl, she decided to join the medical field after completing her primary education but soon she realized that’s not where her passion lay. “ I was brilliant in studies and got good marks in subjects I decided to get into the medical field and also joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Belgaum but after looking at the way we had to work on the dead bodies at our learning stage I decide to quit the course,” she said. According to her, it was not her fault as in most cases when your score high in science, the general consensus is that you’re supposed to become a doctor or engineer and it was no different for her. “The idea was that if you are good in studies go become the doctor or engineer and everyone wanted you to become that whether you liked it or not, but as said in the beginning, my world was completely different from this,” she added.
After leaving Medical College, Philu decided to follow her dreams and she decided to get into the field of fashion design. “I call myself a messy creative person, which means I stay far from the measuring the scale in geometry, and fashion designing was the right field for me as it never demanded the geometrical drawings from me,” she said adding that she finally managed to get into the Sophia College of Fashion Designing in Mumbai and completed the 3 years course in fashion design from there. Although she did a fashion designing course, what actually inspired her was the glittering world of fashion. “I want to tell you about a small incident on how fashion entered into my life and decided to go for it seriously. I went for the Miss India pageant that took place for the first time in Goa and that changed my entire perspective about the real fashion world and I decided to dive into it.”
The beauty pageant in Goa was the turning point in her career. “I met Wendell Rodricks at that show and he was the one who guided me on how to go about the fashion industry and hid guidance helped me to get into the field of fashion designing,” she said. After completing the 3-year fashion design course, Philu came back to Goa and got married to her long-time love Oscar Martins. “Oscar and I were dating for almost 7 years and being a student of mass media and creative line, he also helped me a lot in my field. Soon after getting married, I had a baby and then there was no time to pursue my passion it continued for a couple of years till my son grew up and I decided to start my career and joined Wendell Rodricks Fashion Studio where I worked for almost two years,” she added.
“When I started, just had a dream but after working with Wendell for two years I had gained experience. I met so many top fashion designers, top models in the industry, and many film stars which gave me the confidence to start my own label on a small scale,” said Philu, adding that Oscar, her husband, helped her in her dream and gave her the initial funding of rs10,000. “In the year 2000 that amount was very big and my father-in-law allowed me to start my business from his garage where I installed one sewing machine and employed one tailor and with the money that my husband gave me, I went to Mumbai and picked up the raw material for the business and made a collection comprising 7-8 pieces and invited some close friends to see and to my surprise, on that first instance all the stuff was sold out and they went and told more people about my work and word of mouth did magic wherein I went from having one machine to suddenly half a dozen of them and around 15 – 20 people working under me.”
According to Philu, after that day, there was no looking back. “I cannot forget the beautiful experience that I had in this industry wherein I was appreciated for my work and the most important thing that you write in your interview is ‘I Just loved what I am doing, I believe that I am the luckiest in this universe that I found the joy in what I am doing, do things for the other,” said Philu adding that by nature she is very short-tempered but when it comes to her clients, she the coolest one. “Whatever grievance that client has, whether she is right or wrong I just wanted to find out what is that she did not like about it and I would leave no stone unturned to make things right even at the cost of changing the whole outfit, I made sure that my client got back with the complete satisfaction,” she added.
According to Philu, despite doing everything there are times when you really cannot satisfy the customer no matter what you do, and, in such cases, the only thing that works are the remarks from the others. “There are cases when the clients were not satisfied even after doing everything that is possible from my side but when they donned in that outfit and went to their functions, they have called me back telling me about the number of positive comments they received from the people for the dress they were wearing and this my biggest earning- more than the money,” said Philu.
Another thing that Philu said, which is the most important thing – a lesson for others – is about the good money and bad money, according to her the good money is the one that comes from the customer satisfaction. “What you earn from the arguments and unsatisfied customers is the bad money because according to me money is also one of the energies of the universe and if it is not good then it will bring you only bad energy. That’s why I believe that do something that will bring a smile to your face and your customer’s face too. I follow this principle in my life and like everyone I also want to earn lot of money but it has to be good money. According to me, they should pay for happiness and satisfaction,” she said.
Today the Philu Martins label has become a very well-known brand available across the country in various stores. “Currently I am catering to around 6 to 7 stores across the county and I am in process of expanding to a couple of more depending upon the situation,” she said. Philu has a plan of setting up her own flagship store in Goa but it may take some more time looking at the current market scenario. “When I have my flagship store it is going to be huge with the whole building having the separate sections from production to the marketing and branding but it is still in pipeline.”
Philu struggled at every step but with her hard work and dedication, she finally made it to be one of Goa’s leading fashion designers. “What I have seen in the new generation is that they don’t have the fire within them and they lack of passion. They are too laid back and they don’t have the hunger for learning things and according to me, this needs to change. I feel sad because I believe that they have so much exposure and potential but they do not realize it. According to me, the new generation’s fashion enthusiasts need to develop a good habit pattern. It is not that they don’t have talent, in fact, they possess more talent than what we had and this is due to their exposure to the world what they need is an inspiration and hunger to do something and once that comes in, only the sky will be the limit.”