“I feel successful women make it seem like they are balancing motherhood and work to the tee - I know for a fact that is impossible if you are very successful. Some days you feel like you’re winning, the next minute it feels like you are barely staying afloat. But I’ve learnt to navigate through it all,” says the dynamic London-based investor Eiesha Bharti Pasricha...
And she should know: as an early investor in a diverse mix of brands including fashion brand Roksanda, tech beauty business Beautystack, Brightland (an olive oil brand from LA), beauty brand Barbara Sturm, Flowerbx and fashion brand Asceno – among others – the chic Bharti Pasricha is well versed in what it takes to run a global brand.
On a personal level, motherhood has transformed the way she works. “It has made me question if what I intend to spend my time on is actually worth it. Every minute away from my children ‘for work’ has to either satisfy me from within or serve a purpose for me to grow as an individual. That has allowed me to make some very cut-throat decisions on how I spend my time at work and who I want to work with.”
Bharti Pasricha’s spectacular Notting Hill home and enviable wardrobe are an explosion of colour and creativity. Textures, patterns, and hues collide to create a home that’s both cozy (she has a six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son) and full of charm (no two pieces in any room are from the same designer or source). And where there’s style, there’s plenty of substance. This woman is a force.
With a business pedigree inspired by her father – telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal – Eiesha’s success speaks volumes for her no-nonsense approach to life and motherhood. Her father clearly inspired her strong work ethic. A self-made entrepreneur, he always told her one thing: “life isn’t a rehearsal – you get one shot, so make it a good one!”
“He is relentless when he is on a mission,” she says. “He’s an astute businessman who believes in giving back in a big way. He has set up the largest private intervention for education for the underprivileged in India.”
Her husband of ten years – hospitality mogul Sharan Pasricha – is also a great inspiration to Bharti Pasricha. The Ennismore founder and CEO acquired the famous Gleneagles luxury hotel in Scotland back in 2015 (he also bought the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, expanding the brand to Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Brooklyn). “My husband is a genius at creating experiences. Hospitality for him means you make every individual walking through the doors of his hotels feel good,” she says fondly. Given Bharti Pasricha spent much of her childhood in Scotland, Gleneagles evokes a deep nostalgia. Her husband’s desire was to outshine the hotel’s jazz-age glamour in the roaring 1920s. He’s succeeded. Located beneath the beautiful Ochil Hills, the iconic country estate is home to the only restaurant in Scotland with two Michelin stars, features three championship golf courses, a heavenly spa and much more. Given such influences, Bharti Pasricha certainly has a handle on overachieving, which is also due to some military organisation and the confidence to say no.
We spoke to Eiesha about the question she asks herself before making any business decision, how she deals with burnout, and her organisational hacks (now to implement a few of those ourselves). And finally, her sage advice to female founders: “Start small, stay focused and understand who your customer is and what they want.”
Let’s go back to the beginning...
I was born in Scotland but grew up India. However, Scotland was a big part of my childhood as I spent every Summer growing up there with my grandparents. India was in the midst of its economic revolution during my childhood, so it was a very interesting time for the country as a whole. I had an interesting childhood as I got to enjoy the best India had to offer culturally and we got the best of the outdoors life in all its glory during our time spent in Scotland.
What advice do you have for women going after what they want?
If you have the feeling in your gut that you want to pursue a particular job, start a new business, do a course – just do it. Just make sure you believe in it 100% and somehow your children will become your biggest supporters down the line, once they can understand your thirst.
Have you ever felt burnt out, and if so, how do you deal with feelings of exhaustion or overwhelm?
Yes, I have more so recently than ever. It’s a result of trying to achieve perfection which is impossible. I completely withdraw from all events, social engagements, and clear my diary as much as possible of any meetings. I am someone who doesn’t generally feel the need to be at all places all the time, so I just switch gears when it all gets overwhelming.
We talk a lot about feelings of mother’s guilt on The Grace Tales - do you ever experience this?
I used to experience this a lot, but as my children have grown older and I have become more mature and confident in myself as a mother, I have realised you absolutely cannot have it all. If you think you can, you’re lying to yourself. Everything comes at the cost of something else – realising that it’s ok to sacrifice a little here and there is a choice you can make, and then the guilt is a lot less.
And what did your husband teach you about hospitality?
My husband hated being charged for Wi-Fi when we used to travel, the ridiculous prices in the minibars, no plug points by your bedside, the check-in at 4pm when you come off a 12-hour flight at 7am in a different country. He has disrupted the industry by turning the model on its head and he’s only just started!
You spent a year working as a sales assistant at Louis Vuitton in Paris - what did you learn about customer service?
That was so long ago! But in short, your customer is king!
What led you to invest in Roksanda?
I always wanted to work in fashion, supporting a creative genius in her infancy seemed so exhilarating. I was a customer of her brand, so I loved her product and believed in it. I was also excited at the challenge of helping her behind the scenes to grow her brand.
In terms of investments, what do you look for in a business/what industries are of interest to you?
I look for a solid founder, amazing product and anything that is lifestyle-related. I am partial to a female founder for sure.
To women out there looking to pitch to an investor, what are some of the key things you look for?
I look for a founder who has a product that I have to be a customer of. If I’m not using their product or service I won’t invest. Secondly, they have to know their business inside out. I don’t believe for one second a creative founder shouldn’t have a handle on their P&L – they have to know the bare basics.
What lessons did you take away from working with Jonathan Saunders?
Fashion is a very hard business to invest in. You’re not just investing in the product, you’re investing in the individual.
Tell us about your work with Charles Mellersh and how you transformed your Notting Hill home?
Charles was introduced to me by one of my dearest friends. He has an incredible eye and can mould his schemes based on an individual. He doesn’t have a set style, unlike most interior designers, so he understood what I wanted and how my home had to be an extension of me. We travelled the best part of 18 months together to furnish my house.
What have been some of the biggest changes in the fashion industry in the last five years?
The constant need to churn out more than five collections for an individual designer make it impossible to manage cash flow. As a young designer starting out, you have to have capital to invest in your samples before your orders even come in.
Buyers aren’t necessarily interested in the best representation for the brand in their store. They buy purely based on their spreadsheets, without even understanding their customers, if you ask me.
Influencers starting a fashion brand overnight with no design experience now dominate the market. Can you imagine what that does to the business of authentic, truly talented designers who have graduated from some of the most prestigious fashion schools in the world?
How do you personally approach fashion, and has your style changed since you became a mother?
Yes, I have pretty much forgotten how to wear heels! I have to be practical and so I have a uniform: boyfriend jeans, a T-shirt and a knit or a blazer with trainers. I do love a jumpsuit too!
What are your thoughts on sustainability and how the industry as a whole can make a difference?
I think sustainability is a very complicated matter, it is impossible to summarise how change can be made. The whole ecosystem of fashion needs to do a 360 before we can even begin to make a difference. I for one have started to shop less, and I have started to repeat my clothes a lot.
The word no is probably the most powerful word we can use – yet many of us are terrible at it. Are you good at saying no?
I am, and it’s something I’ve learnt from my husband.
You’re a mother of two with a flourishing career – how have you made it work over the years? What has been the most challenging stage?
The most challenging stage was the breastfeeding and lack of sleep – I found it all-consuming. However, even when they grow up the challenges still remain, they need you for different things at different stages.
What are some practical tips you can share around time management?
The kids’ uniforms and after school changes are lined up on a rail Monday to Friday with labels. Even if they have swimming at school on a Thursday, Sunday night it will be hung up on the label saying Thursday. The breakfast table is laid every night, ready for the morning, and the school bags are ready to go too. I wake up at 6.40am to go to the gym most days so I don’t get to my emails until after I do school drop off. I use the evenings to plan for the next morning. My husband’s office and my PA run our schedules like a military operation behind the scenes.
If you could go back in time, to before you had children, what advice would you give yourself?
I wish I was more fearless and had taken more risks!
Do you create clear boundaries between work and home, or are they blurred? How do you switch off?
The boundaries are blurred, we have gotten used to it as a family. The children know exactly what my husband does for work and what I do. We give our children our undivided attention in the evenings and weekends and we make an effort to do what they love, but ultimately the chatter they hear in the background is all work. My husband is the founder of his business and I work for myself too, so that means you never switch off.
What does success mean to you?
Happiness from within, and a very stable family life.
Finally, what’s the best style advice you’ve been given?
Honestly, I just dress how I feel comfortable. In fact, my style is quite rock and roll! I wear biker boots with black tie dresses!