1. In this field, no two projects (designing costumes/dresses for films) can ever be same. Hence, every day is different and dynamic.
  2. The longer you’re a part of this profession, the more experience you acquire and more you thrive.
  3. I would suggest people pursue their B.Sc. in costume designing from NIFT. I’ve interacted with various designers and can absolutely tell the difference between someone from NIFT and someone from any other institute.
  4. For individuals wanting a safe and secure job, this field isn’t made for them, honestly. There’s a lot of competition in this industry and it’s very important to give your all to it.

Profile Details

Name – Sarika Dresswalla

Profession – Head of Design at Maganlal Dresswalla

Gender – Female

Age – 40 years

City – Mumbai

Industry – Film & Costume Designing

Linkedin –

Where were you born and raised?

I’ve been residing in Mumbai ever since I was born. I completed my entire education in this city and established a career here too.

What is your family background like and who would you say, had a remarkable influence on you growing up and how?

We were a family of four, my parents, my sister and me. My father was a businessman and my mother, a homemaker. We were a close-knit family and understood each other unconditionally.

Growing up, I’d say, my father had a pre-eminent influence on me. He knew exactly how to bring his work and personal life to a perfect equilibrium, which isn’t easy, especially when you are talking about the film industry. That fuelled my hankering to be just like him in the future.

Please give me a summary of your career.

I am carrying forward my family business. It’s called “Maganlal Dresswalla”, which was established in 1926 as a little store. Now, we are one of the largest producers of costumes required in Film and TV industry. We’re the pioneers of in this trade, especially in Bollywood film industry.

I manage all aspects of the business. I design and execute dresses and costumes. Mostly I also handle customers, finances etc.

Along with costuming for films, I also do mascots, weddings, etc.

I plan on paving a path through “Maganlal Dresswalla” for a long, long time.

Which institutes, according to you, are the best for pursuing a career in costume designing?

I’d suggest you pursue your B.Sc. in costume designing. This course is for three years duration. The best college for this is ‘National Institute of Fashion Technology’ [NIFT]. I say NIFT, because I’ve interacted with various designers who’ve pursued fashion courses from there, and I can definitely see the difference between a designer from NIFT and a designer from another university/college.

Individuals from NIFT conduct themselves in a very professional manner and know their way around things really well.

What is the expenditure associated with the education/training of this profession, approximately?

Approximately, you’ll incur an expenditure of 2–6 lakhs for your entire 3-year study.

If you want to continue with your M.Sc. in costume designing, a course lasting for two years, you’ll spend around 20,000–4 lakhs INR.

I’d suggest you get these degrees from India itself.

How does one manage to enter this field of costume designing?

After securing your degree in costume designing, you can start off by serving as an assistant designer to get an idea of how things really work in this industry. Once you’re sure of your potential in this field, you can start working on your own projects. You can work as a freelancer which entails going to shoots, etc. You can also open an outlet like mine.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

In this field, the sky is the limit.

As a costume designer, one can work as a freelancer, which involves going to sets’ and shootings’. I don’t do much of that since I have my own set-up to take care of. This keeps me occupied all the time.

However, as a freelancer, you can start off as a designer’s assistant.

As an assistant, you can earn about INR 25,000 per month. Good assistants sometimes even earn INR 60,000–70,000 per month.

Once you start working on your own projects, there’s no stopping you. It all depends upon your creativity. It’s safe to say that one can earn very well in this industry.

Please describe your work.

Right now, I’m focusing on balancing my personal and professional life. I am at the shop during afternoons and some evenings, spending 4–5 hours per day. Previously, I used to put in 10–12 hours per day.

I don’t really have a fixed time. It depends upon the number of assignments and projects I’m taking up and the kind of work they require.

I take care of the accounts, interact with and address my customer’s hankerings, design costumes for films, weddings, mascots, etc.

Previously, I had to carry out back to back night shifts frequently since there’s so much competition in the industry!

In your opinion, what are some benefits that would encourage an individual to consider this career/job?

As part of the film industry, one can expect fame, respect, and prosperity. However, one has to put in a lot of hard work for that to happen. It’s definitely not easy.

Also, every day is dynamic and interesting as a designer. One can seldom get bored of this profession. You’re an explorer throughout.

No two projects are the same. If you’re a freelancer, you’re an explorer in the literal sense of the word too! You get to travel to different parts of the world.

The longer you’re a part of this profession, the more the experienced you are and the more you grow. There’s no end to growth, really. So, it’s long-lasting.

Can you mention a few challenges that you would want someone to be aware of if they’re considering this career/job course?

This line is pretty unpredictable. On some days, you may have a lot of work and other days, you may not have any project to work on. This is especially true if you’re a freelancer.

The other challenge is the work-life balance. To establish yourself, you have to work really hard and long hours. Once you are accepted, then life becomes far easier.

Also, income is low in the starting. Once you are established, then you can earn copious amounts of money.

Your success in this profession depends on your skills, creativity, and experience.

What are some relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?

It’s important to be a little techno-savvy, I’d say. If you want to reach out to the world, if you want to start costuming for foreign films instead of being restricted to Indian films only, it’s crucial to know your way around technology. That’s about it!

What kind of a person, do you think, would be content in this field?

For individuals wanting a safe and secure job, this field isn’t made for them, honestly. There’s a lot of competition in this industry and it’s very important that you give your all to it.

If you’re a go-getter, making things happen for yourself, you’ll be really content doing this.

However, it’s also important to acquire mastery over patience and persistence. Sometimes, you may invest all your time working on a project and on other days, you may not have anything to work on, really.

If you’re passionate about this career, go for it, that’s all I’d say.

Passion is the key to happiness!

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

I don’t think, I can ever fathom the thought of switching my career path. I’m extremely content with respect to my professional selections.

However, I also believe in seizing every moment, exploring and discovering. Life is short and limiting yourself to one thing solely isn’t my principle in life. It’s important to go out there and experience things for the first time. It’s extremely rejuvenating and gives you a break from your monotonous life, in my opinion.

What advice would you offer to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

Go for it. There’s a whole new world waiting to be discovered by you. This path will open up your horizons to a vibrant, colorful universe, trust me!

Contributing Writer — Urvi Shah

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