Vaishali Shah, award-winning businesswoman, Founder and Creative Director of global marketing and design consultancy Creative ID and wedding stationery business Ananya.
Born in London and brought up in Jersey, London, and Paris, Vaishali has always been appreciative and sensitive to different cultures. She helps businesses and brands become more culturally inclusive through purposeful design at her businesses Creative ID and Ananya, and in her role as an expert speaker. Creative ID creates aspirational branding and marketing for inspirational brands. Ananya creates sophisticated wedding and event stationery for momentous celebrations rich in personality and culture.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Creative ID creates aspirational branding and marketing for inspirational brands.
We join the dots between your branding, marketing and customers to create purposeful engagement between brand and customer to lead to success.
International: Creative ID takes an international perspective on branding and marketing for inspirational food, hospitality and lifestyle brands.
Our multi-lingual team works internationally, oﬀering a full service agency approach but with a small team ethos alongside our wealth of experience.
We partner with brands who wish to operate internationally, bringing our diversity and inclusion expertise and our extensive international experience to bear in the relevant markets.
The Creative ID team pride themselves on creating international connections for our clients from our considerable business network.
Inspirational: What drives our work is our belief that branding and marketing is an emotive experience, and successful branding harnesses this to create purposeful and long-lasting customer engagement.
At the heart of our approach is the aim to create connection and engagement between a brand and their customers. Branding creates subconscious persuasion which drives customer connection to a brand – and ultimately, to success.
We use our creativity and experience to create inspirational brands that clients believe in and that bring their businesses to life for their customers.
We understand that to create successful, inspirational brands, we need to build the whole brand experience and that consistency of this experience is the key to unlocking brand potential and growth.
Integrity: Our aim as a business is to create positive impact, both on our clients’ businesses and the wider world.
We want to build a Creative ID community where businesses who inspire, with inspirational aims, can come together and create positive impact together.
We have started on this path with our pledge to give 10% of our proﬁts to charity, to help make a diﬀerence to other people’s lives.
But we want to go further and invite inspirational brands who have aspirations to make a diﬀerence and work with integrity to come on the journey with us.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
From a young age I had been fascinated by brands. Brands that I wore, brands that I ate and brands that were hugely popular. I wanted to know what brands did to get themselves well known and loved by their customers. I was keen to study the whole process of marketing a brand. My University degree specialised in marketing and, after graduating, I also obtained professional qualifications in marketing through the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) (and am now a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing).
All aspects of marketing and branding continue to fascinate me. I know that branding and marketing have the power to make or break a business – it is an ongoing process of keeping in step with your customers’ evolving needs in this ever-changing world.
With that in mind, I wanted to set up a business that combines both marketing and design, as I could see smaller businesses were focusing on either marketing or design. I wanted to offer a ‘one stop’ solution for smaller businesses. Fascinated by the melting pot of cultures in London, I wanted to create a business with a cultural perspective.
How did you achieve awareness?
Through hard work, investing in myself as well as in services such as PR, helped me to achieve awareness. Awareness and success tends to be gradual process. However, I would say that by the time my business had been running for about 5 years, momentum had been gathering. I felt a lot more confident, I had my teams and systems in place, a website I was proud of and was getting word of mouth referrals.
I then started networking at every opportunity, building and nurturing relationships. Being seen is very important, according to me, and so is creating alliances with those in an industry that complements your own for mutual benefit.
I nurtured relationships with my clients – happy clients will gladly send potential clients your way and will come back to you time and time again for any additional work. I am proud that my longest standing client, a celebrity Michelin star chef, has been working with me for all 22 years of the business.
I am now regularly called upon for industry comment and featured in numerous global publications, blogs and media.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I have grown through the success of my businesses. The only funding I have taken is the Bounce Back loan during Covid.
What are the key successes?
Celebrating my 21st year in business last year has definitely been a key success for me. I am grateful to have successfully survived the pandemic and previous economic downturns.
Having been regularly featured in the media including Forbes, Huffington Post, The BBC, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Hello Magazine, SheerLuxe.com, Squaremeal, Real Business and Metro is also something very positive for myself and the business.
A key success is opening a base in Dubai for both my businesses earlier this year.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
When is the right time to outsource and delegate has been a challenge for me.
One of the things I clearly remember my father emphasising is to delegate, delegate, delegate! That word is etched in my mind and unfailingly surfaces as a reminder when I am snowed under with work. His advice has helped him throughout my 50 year professional career.
I have had to prioritise, evaluate my skills, the aspects of the business I enjoyed the most as well as those I did not enjoy. I also examined any areas where I had insufficient knowledge. The financial side of the business has not been my strong point as I am a creative, and much more comfortable with, and inspired by, all things creative. So I hired an accountant and external book keeper in my first year in business. And now, 21 years later, I have an external accountant and an in-house book keeper, which I find is a good balance and one that works well for me.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to manage all the day to day tasks and operations of the business. This can take up so much time that you can’t focus on the really important matters that require your undivided attention and which can easily slip through the cracks. The solution, of course, is to outsource such tasks, which I have been doing. By delegating and outsourcing, I have been able to concentrate on my vision, goals and strategies for the business rather than getting swamped by the mundane tasks of the business. Fast forward 21 years and rather than working IN the business, I have been working ON the business, with great success.
What are your plans now/for the future?
I am delighted that both my businesses Creative ID and Ananya are going global. At the beginning of the year, I set up an international base in Dubai. I am looking forward to working with clients looking to strengthen their international presence and grow their customer base in new territories. I also will be exploring opportunities to work with companies in the UAE looking to tap into the UK market.
I’ve always loved exploring new cultures and I could immediately see the advantages of having a base in Dubai with its international outlook. The vibrancy of the place and its cosmopolitan outlook are a perfect fit for my businesses, giving both my UK and overseas clients a truly global audience. And thanks to the ever-increasing advance in technology, every place in the world is instantly accessible!” I feel that this expansion to Dubai is a natural next step for businesses that have always had an international outlook.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Keep your focus firmly fixed on your goals, use every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, have a strong support system you can rely on and celebrate even the smallest success along the way.
Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s important to learn from any mistakes.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Learn from your mistakes
Work ‘on’ your business, not just ‘in’ your business.
Enjoy the process and recognise your sucessess.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
One of the people who has inspired me and who instilled in me the values of trust, charity, honesty, and being good to others is my father, Vipin Shah. Now retired, he was the chairman of a fiduciary company; he believes in working hard and was in the office daily by 7.30 am.
The principles of philanthropy have always played a strong role in my family. We continue to support various charities and worthy causes. It’s in my DNA to give back on a regular basis. From the time I launched my businesses I have been donating to charity and I’ve witnessed first-hand the difference charity makes. Through the various institutions that my family has built, approximately 35,000 people benefit directly at any given point.
My father and I are very close. I continue to learn so much from him and am free to voice my opinions, ideas and initiatives, and ask him anything.
It’s impossible not to be inspired by Mother Teresa, the Albanian-Indian nun and missionary who ran the Missionaries of Charity. Members of the charity took vows to “wholeheartedly give free service to the poorest of the poor.”That sentiment, commitment and dedication to help the poor, diseased and unwanted is what truly touches my heart – it’s selfless giving at its best!
Canonised as Saint Teresa in 2016, she received many prizes during her lifetime, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. With my family background in giving back, Mother Teresa has had a tremendous impact on my life.
I love this quote from Mother Teresa: “If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed one.”
Michelle Obama has spent her whole career engaging young people, while improving the community where she grew up. Encouraging better education for girls, equal rights, healthy living and more help for families living in poverty is something that resonates with me.
I love her quote: “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”
My favourite ‘Life lesson quote’ is: “If you get, give. If you learn, teach” by Maya Angelou. Giving back has always been a part of my family’s ethos and it is a life lesson I have taken very much to heart. From the launch of my first business 22 years ago, I have donated 10% of my earnings to charity. I consider it a privilege to give back and support those who need it most. As a Trustee of charities, I have devoted my time to fundraising and offered my design and marketing services on a pro bono basis. I also have trees planted for all my stationery work.
As a creative, I am a huge Apple fan and use Apple products for my businesses as well as for pleasure. Steve Jobs is inspirational for me as he wanted to change the world and technology for the masses. He has shown the world how to dream and how to achieve your dreams even if there are many hurdles along the way. For entrepreneurs, I know the products that he has created from iPhones to iMacs, have helped many.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed one.” – Mother Teresa
“There is no greater reward than working from your heart and making a difference in the world.” – Carlos Santana
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
“To move forward you have to give back” – Oprah Winfrey
“Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives” – Michelle Obama
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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