International Women’s Day Feature: Shriya Shreyas Iyer, Atlas Advertising, Mumbai
09 March 2022: 8th March was observed as the United Nations’ International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. This year’s IWD observance is in recognition and celebration of the women and girls, and to honour their leadership and contribution towards a sustainable future.
In the March edition of Screen Print India, we will be featuring women in the printing industry. To start with here we present a feature on Shriya Shreyas Iyer, Sales and Marketing Head, Atlas Advertising, Mumbai.
Shriya is a Chemical Engineer by education, She has had a career in corporate for a few years before joining Atlas as Sales and Marketing Head. Travelling to new places is her leisure activity while she loves meeting new people, learning about new cultures, experiences. This has helped her gain a broader perspective and a better understanding of the world.
Atlas Advertising was established in 2006 by Vaideeswaran Iyer, based on his extensive research on transfer printing technology. Atlas has indigenously developed transfer printing solutions for various substrates like Garment, Wax Candles, Glass, Steel, PVC, Nylon, Wood, Rubber, Balloons, Leather, Plastic, etc. Keeping the vision alive, the company has recently introduced a specialized range of transfer printing stickers for garments, nylon and PVC.
Your views about: International Women’s Day 2022 theme – “Gender equality for a sustainable future…..”
Coming from a production industry that deals with so many chemicals, and being a chemical engineer myself, the topic of sustainability itself is so vital to us. Generally, printing industries get a bad rep for polluting the environment, however, I am proud to say that we have designed a process where we re-use maximum product waste from the manufacturing process into our sampling process for new clients.
Such goals are realised better when there is gender equality. To give an example, aside from our male workers, we also employ women in our facility for weeding of the stickers, a downstream process of production. These women are normally from economically weaker sections and are at a disadvantage to contribute to the environment. They work for us in a work from home format so their regular home responsibilities are not disrupted. To promote women empowerment and gender equality, we specifically employ them and they have shown such excellent skills that they do not cause any product, sticker or paper wastage during weeding activity, thus playing their part in sustainability. Hence, this years’ theme resonates and celebrates the small steps we have already taken towards this goal and highlights its significance and potential for all that is to come.
Why did you think of joining the family biz by leaving the corporate job ?
I was looking to advance my corporate career, before my marriage, and wanted to explore good opportunities that would utilise more of my skills. When I realised that my husband’s business required someone on the sales/marketing front, I wanted to help. As a result, we discussed his business in detail and it intrigued me as it was a very unique line. My husband was looking to expand his business and this was the perfect opportunity that we felt would help us grow our family business and give a new challenge to my career.
Since the print sector is male-dominated, was it difficult initially to adjust yourself ?
Although I had my fears regarding joining such a niche business line which is particularly male-dominated, I am grateful to my family members who eased me into their business and gave me the confidence that I can overcome any difficulties to take on this role. Due to this, I hardly faced any difficulties and this garnered the attention of one of our international contacts who was impressed to find a woman in this business line and requested a picture of my husband and me, to save in his diary.
Your observation about the trends now and in future in heat transfer printing viz a viz garment decoration ?
Change is the only constant trend in this industry. Something I have observed working in this printing line for a short while is that once a new product is introduced into the market, it becomes a hot commodity instantly. The best example of this would be reflective stickers. While its initial functionality was in high-visibility jackets (garments), the market quickly gained traction almost everywhere, dominating its use in shoes, bags, garments, rainwear and many other commodities. And given the convenient nature and high-quality print that heat transfer printing offers, it has wide applications, not just limited to garments. This is mainly as trends from one line of business affect the other lines of business as well.
While from a holistic view, this trend may seem challenging to cater to demands from various industries, our unique business model helps us constantly innovate new transfer printing technology. Therefore, we benefit from such trends and it’s highly interesting as it opens up our customer base to new industry lines while engaging the attention of existing customers who are constantly on the lookout for something new. Like in reflective stickers range we went one step ahead. We have developed a printing range of Reflectors for intricate difficult designs which are impossible to plot cut. A range of colour Reflectors which can be Pantone matched. Puff reflectors etc. This in turn motivates us to be creative with our printing solutions and ultimately become trendsetters.
How do you strike a balance between work and home ?
I consider myself very lucky that I have a husband and father-in-law to support me at the business front and my mother-in-law to support me at the home front by taking major responsibility for the household. While all of us do try to help out with the household, the practical approach of the entire family helps me focus on my contribution towards the business fully while not worrying about any activities at home.
What were the learning lessons from Covid-19 ?
As with other MSMEs around the world, our business hasn’t been immune to the challenges of COVID-19 either. However, we have not only learned to live with it, but also it provided us to find out of the box solutions to overcome unique challenges and manage the business.
The lockdown imposed during Covid had everyone working from home. Hence, it was essential to find a work-life balance and be able to segregate time for business and personal life. At the business end, the halt in production, due to lockdown, posed a challenge to sustain the livelihood of our workers, against the drastic reduction in work orders due to the slowdown of the market.
Furthermore, it taught us how to re-do things, like re-plan, re-market, re-analyse, re-organise etc. to factor in the impact of Covid. Although stressed due to halted market conditions, lockdown proved to be a creative time as we analysed market patterns, brainstormed ideas to develop new products into the market.
As a result, we were able to introduce a new range of products in multiple types of stickers. The introduction of such new technologies post-covid helped us gain momentum as it was so well received by the market. In summary, positive approach, resilience, analysis and planning were the major learnings from Covid.