An Afternoon with Srimoyi

26 October, 2019

Srimoyi Bhattacharya, or Sri as she is fondly known, is a true PR genius. She handpicks the brands she wants to represent and really dives into doing so in the best way possible. As a result of which, her brand Peepul, now represents an incredibly well curated list of international and homegrown brands. She built Peepul from scratch. Making it one of the most successful fashion & lifestyle PR & Communication firms’ in the country. 

She not only works with these brands as clients. She genuinely believes in them, uses their products and recommends them too. It’s hard not to take an instant liking to her and feel her infectious warm vibes. She has been super supportive of JODI, always reaching out and inspiring us. And she's a customer too! 

A force of nature, women like her lift other women and we are so glad to have crossed paths with her.

Here, she talks about her work journey and love of fashion whilst charming us with her effortlessly eclectic style in new season JODI silk.

Take us through your journey and how did Peepul come about?
Born and raised in Paris, I grew up in a melting pot of cultures, as my family would constantly travel between France and India. My first encounter with PR was an internship at the Paris office of legendary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. I then briefly moved to Delhi to intern at Times of India - resulting in experiences that led me to join this industry, 25 years ago. After working with an agency in Paris and then in-house for various companies (from tech to hospitality), I founded Peepul in New York City in 2006. I moved to India within two years, as I wanted to specialise in luxury and fashion PR and saw a void in the existing landscape. I still pinch myself when I share that we have now four partners, 40 team members and three offices (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore). 

When did you know that this was your calling? 
I wanted to be in a profession that would combine my (many) interests in arts and culture, fashion, beauty and the luxury market in general. When I first started work in PR in 1991 in Paris, I worked with tech companies from across the world – and while I had no personal connection to that particular industry – I loved meeting different experts and fed off their passion for their work. I honed my skills – thanks to my mentors – and worked hard to change my domain of expertise to gravitate towards lifestyle-oriented genres. Having worked in Paris, NYC, and India, today, I consider myself fortunate to represent some of my favourite brands from India and around the world. 

Srimoyi wears the Madhubani Gajji Silk Kurta Set

"I loved the retro flair of this set and I could see myself mixing both pieces, which makes this a very versatile Jodi! "

What is it like running a women-driven company?
PR is a profession that seems to be primarily female-led and I am happy to see a few good men joining the bandwagon! I believe in diversity and can only see advantages in having set-up with all genders working together towards a common goal. 

How different is global PR vs India?
PR is still a nascent profession in India compared to New York City or Paris, and even more so in the lifestyle space. I believe there is still a lot of awareness and education needed on all ends, for clients to understand the purpose of this investment and for publicists to excel in their practice. Our biggest advantage is the space we have to experiment because it’s all here for us to shape ourselves, and cater to a massive market with opportunities for all sizes of firms – small, big, individual or boutique. 

What changes would you like to see in the fashion and beauty industry in India?
It’s an exciting time because there is so much scope to create and build. However, what the market needs is some level of governance and not-for-profit trade associations that can help nurture the market for a stronger, more organized impact on the economy. As homegrown labels develop in the country and international brands settle in, these trade organizations will help regularise standard practices and build a more robust industry. Similar to the GJEPC in India for the gem and jewellery industry, there is a dire need for an apex body in the fashion and beauty space. And India, today, I consider myself fortunate to represent some of my favourite brands from India and around the world. 

What advice would you give to people interested in pursuing a career in PR and communications? 

To build knowledge in the domain you want to be known for. When I first began my career, it was fine to be a PR professional and not necessarily be technically aware of a specific industry. If you choose to specialize in fashion or luxury, it’s important to know the market, key players, the inner workings and actually be an industry insider for your client’s benefit. And with knowledge and experience, you will develop a strong instinct to stay one step ahead in advising a brand and accompany its vision. 

Any life hacks to maintain a work-life balance. How do you manage both?
I am a big believer in boundaries and weekend downtime in an industry where it is a challenge ;) I stay away from my cell phone during meals and from 7-9pm which is family time. Our office shuts at 6pm, rarely works over weekends (only when required) and everyone takes off on their holidays. This is an industry where stress and burnouts are rampant – and we do everything we can to make it easy on our Peepul family (oh and none of this is applicable for peak season in our industry!) 

"Black and yellow florals? Such an unusual colour combination with a very flattering empire cut. "

Srimoyi wears the Champa Mulberry Silk Draped Dress

"Black and yellow florals? Such an unusual colour combination with a very flattering empire cut. "

What is the one thing that India has that Paris doesn’t and vice versa?
India has pani puri, and France has croissants ;) 
India works 24/7 and France believes in 35-hour working weeks ;) 

If you could wear one outfit every day, that would be?
A long, flowing dress in the softest cotton and bold prints.

Srimoyi wears the Gond Mulberry Silk Saree

Style icons?
My mother Dr. Jharna Bose for standing true to her roots in any city she has lived in (she would hitchhike in a sari Europe in the 50’s), and my godmother France Grand for making me absorb the best of fashion since my teenage days in Paris. 

What current trend do you love?
I love the maximalist print-on-print look! 

Dream dinner party guests?
Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.

What would be your fancy dress theme?
I don’t care for fancy dress parties (maybe because I dress up every day ;) but if you insist, it’d be as grand as The Great Gatsby! 

Since you love travelling, which was your most memorable vacation yet? Give us some inside recommendations, please!
Japan was our most memorable holiday because of how transported we were by its culture, food, and traditions. We’ve all come back quite marked by Tokyo and Kyoto. 

And which place are you craving to visit?
Latin America!  

"The Bengali in me felt most at ease in this; I loved the fabric and how it easily it falls on any body type."

Styled by- Manisha Melwani
Photography- Simran Dhanu