India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
July 28, 2015

MInal Vazirani: Adroit Auctioneer

Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena. Photograph by Ryan Martis. Styling by Chandni Bahri. Make-Up and Hair by Recinda Santhumayor. Location Courtesy: Saffronart, Prabhadevi

Over a decade ago, Minal Vazirani spearheaded a new channel to facilitate art dealings. The successful co-founder of Saffronart, driven by her growing aesthetic vision, claims her place in The Rose Code

“I am someone who needs change — I need to be working on something new all the time. That state of constant change is what motivates me as an entrepreneur.”

Around 14 years ago, when the world was dominated by concrete brick and mortar galleries, Minal Vazirani — with her husband Dinesh — launched their online auction house, Saffronart. Minal recalls, “We initially had different careers — Dinesh worked for his family business and I was in management consulting. At one point, I felt that it was the right time for me to make a career change; so I dusted off a business plan that I had written during business school. After in-depth discussions and some tweaks to the original, we set up Saffronart.” Over the years, the company, that started out as a web-based vendor, grew to have physical exhibition spaces, and diversified into jewellery, watches and antiquities, prime properties and more. Today, it is the go-to destination for a lover of luxury.

Initially, Minal and Dinesh addressed the challenges they faced as young collectors. She recalls, “We were driven by the need to determine the appropriate price for a work and to get access to both information and significant works, in order to build a collection, rather than simply buy art. The most economical, effective way to reach the widest audience, especially those who didn’t have access, was to go online. And, when we were told we were crazy to do this and that we would never succeed, it became even more of a focussed challenge for us. Building this company took an incredible amount of commitment, and some personal sacrifices.”

Minal’s workday knows no limits of time. She states, “We are connected around the world every second since we deal with art and collectibles. The process of acquisition of these is one of high involvement for the buyer, especially at the top-end. Discussions with clients don’t really seem to end with ‘normal’ business hours.”

Luxury to her is the ability to do what she likes — whether it is pursuing her passion at work or travelling. During her leisure she plays tennis and enjoys cooking and watching cookery shows. She says, “I like to eat, drink, read, meet my parents and friends, and cuddle my kids. I love seeing collections that have largely been built by individuals — they give me a glimpse into the individual’s insight, even addiction. A few of the places that reflect this include the Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena), Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Venice), The Getty (Los Angeles) and The Frick Collection (New York).”

She states that her sense of style is simple. “I wear what I feel comfortable in. At work, I wear flat shoes as I am always rushing around. My dressing stems from my personality which is very down-to-earth. I do wear jewellery, and what I treasure most are pearls. They are simple and elegant, and each one is unique. I love my everyday earrings which were an anniversary gift from my husband.”

She enjoys her interactions with diverse temperaments in the art world. “I can’t remember a single day since we launched Saffronart that I haven’t learned something new. Some have been difficult lessons and not so easy to imbibe, but others have been priceless nuggets of earned wisdom. And success cannot be defined as a particular moment. It is a journey that has different milestones!”

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