March 29, 2020
I Had to Fire 500 Employees or I’d Lose My Business

I Had to Fire 500 Employees or I’d Lose My Business

My name is Jay, and I am the co-founder and CEO of
Deepa Gurnani and I was forced to fire 500 people to stay afloat. This is My Work Through Failure Story. It all started when my wife Deepa and I got married and decided to merge our
lives and our lines together to create beautiful handmade luxury accessories. We work with skilled artisans in India, where everything is handcrafted, and we strive
to preserve the craft of hand embroidery. This artisanal quality has been passed on from generation to generation by skilled artisans. You know their dads passed it onto them, their sons. It’s a dying art, we want to make sure that this craft is alive. When we both got married we you know we knew we
wanted to do something to make a difference. We’re both spiritual people, we’re both spiritual yogis and I just felt like it was our calling. The drive was there, the passion was there, and both of us just wanted to do what we could to help these artisans and preserve this craft of handmade luxury. We literally started this out of our living room. We were hand sewing accessories all night long. I worked a full-time job. While Deepa was sewing during the days. The struggle was real, the struggle is real. The first 5 years of the brand
are the are the most difficult years of your life. I’m telling you, when you put your blood and
sweat and pain and effort into everything you do, it will turn into something larger than life. 2015 was the height of our success where
you know we had 2000 stores worldwide, the distribution was massive. We had 700 employees. We finally got the flow of what we were doing, and we kinda got into a system where we felt like
okay we’re growing and growing at a stage where we can handle it. Japan, Russia, China, India, the U.K., Europe,
obviously the United States, Africa, Australia, it was Deepa Gurnani all over the world. And working with all these artisans and giving
them you know this beautiful opportunity to show their pieces all over celebrities worldwide and having them get that sense of pride. We just wanted to make sure that you know we
kept growing and growing and growing without realizing what was happening around us. And that was a little mistake on our end. We got to a point in 2016 where overnight, and when I say overnight I mean overnight in a fashion world, we died. We basically choked. We got too big for our heads. We got too too big. We didn’t know what would happen if you know anything slammed
against us. We didn’t know how to react to that. We didn’t know how to deal with the issues around us. You know there were a lot of copy cats and we had a lot of competition in the industry. And that kinda brought us down. Realized that I had to let go of 500 people overnight. And you know in order for us to stay afloat
this was just the reaction that I had to take. This was just the steps that I had to take to make sure that the rest of the business didn’t go under. We took the hit. For about a year and a half we realized that if we we don’t knock ourselves off then somebody
else is definitely going to do it out there. And we focused on that strategy of creating a second line Deepa by Deepa Gurnani. We still paid fair wages, we still made sure the artisans got work, but we used different techniques of embroidery,
and we used different techniques and different materials. People felt like why would they buy the knock-offs as opposed
to the brand and the business started transitioning to us again. We definitely are cautious when it comes to bringing more
people into our family. Our employee structure is now growing, but at a pace where we can handle it. Where we know for a fact that now if we bring
somebody on we’re keeping them on. I feel like everyone needs to be hit hard at one point in their lives. And I feel like that was our moment in 2016 to be hit hard. Somethings are out of control, but if you work hard that passion and drive is there from when
you first started, if you remember those days there’s no stopping you. Hi I’m Alex and I have a confession to make. I have failed many many times. And so have you. And that is why I produced this WTF story So that you and I can feel a little bit less alone. So if you want to learn more about founders who have
overcome their challenges and worked through their failures be sure to like this video subscribe, and hit the bell to turn on our notifications.

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