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September 21, 2015

Why Ritu K. Suri is Queen of the Hive

Text by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh. Photograph by Anshika Varma. Styling By Shweta Navandar. Location Courtesy: Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi

Being a part of her family’s hugely successful bee cultivation and honey production business, the rooted and conscientious Ritu K Suri finds a sweet spot on The Rose Code

“My future largely depends upon how I shape my present so I am just living the moment to the fullest.”

The 29-year-old has degrees in business administration and marketing (not to mention being part of the management programme for women entrepreneurs at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore), along with one in fashion from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi. Ritu K. Suri found herself restructuring the family business of beekeeping. The company, Kashmir Apiaries Pvt Ltd, with 50,000 bee colonies, is the country’s largest exporter of honey with over 140 labels going to 42 countries worldwide. “I would go almost everywhere with my father and mother, be it their meetings or exhibitions. This business had humble beginnings, today where it stands, it has been inspiring to me — I want to learn and do my bit in taking the legacy forward.”

She finds a balance in her life keeping her diverse interests alive. Even after not making it through the entrance test of NIFT the first time and going ahead with a management degree, she reapplied, clearing it the second time. She brings the same spirit to the table in her professional life: while she has built her career with her family business, she has also been following her passion post marriage to developmental engineer and businessman Gundeep Singh Suri. She started as an external jury member at The Sportking Fashion College, Ludhiana, and went on to become a fashion design teacher at the same institute. She is currently involved with her fashion label, RKS, and her retail store, Honeyqueen, which is a “one-stop shop for honey and honey-based products” soon to be launched online and at premium food outlets.

Happiest when she meditates, she believes that the milestones she has achieved are winning the title of the Apimondia Honey Queen at the Apimondia International Beekeeping Conference in Montpellier, France, and then being re-elected at Buenos Aires; along with the ways in which she has been able to influence the management to take certain key decisions for the betterment of the company. Going on to elaborate about the title: “It was a great honour to represent my country on an international platform and winning the title was overwhelming. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people, made some good friends across the globe and I feel richer for having had the experience.”

Her family was uprooted by the Indo-Pak partition. In 1978, on a whim, her father, Sardar Jagjit Singh, decided to attend a beekeeping course at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and there has been no looking back since. “Whenever possible I visit different institutes and local communities to educate people about the importance of the humble bee.”

Ritu, who’s an outgoing person, believes that her personal style quotient is “exuberant”. “I do like to experiment and mostly just try to go with my mood. Dressing up for an occasion means dressing for the occasion.” She treasures her wedding jewellery, which she designed. She remains inspired by her parents and guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. And success is “being happy and content with what I have, but still trying to make things better for myself, my loved ones, and the world in general”.

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