It is no surprise as to why Anna-Lise Sharma is successful, even within the first couple of minutes meeting her. Sharma is a well-spoken, intelligent, upfront and beautiful young woman who is on the fast track to having a successful career in the business of fashion and currently working in the family business.
Sharma’s father, Vere Sharma began De Vere Textiles from their living room in Devonport, and in 2009 her mother Christine turned her attention to retail and bought New Zealand-based fashion label Ruby.
“I have been part of the family business from the beginning,” said 25 year-old Sharma.
She studied a Commerce Degree at Auckland University, majoring in marketing and commercial law. She describes herself as a ‘creative but with a business mind’ and does not remember any ‘aha’ moment that defined what she wanted to do with her life, rather, she explained that her career just evolved, having always wanted to put her business skills and need for order and symmetry to use but she also knew that it had to be in a creative industry.
“I decided on the business side of the fashion industry for obvious reasons.”
At university, she worked in retail at Ruby and shortly after was approached by Murray Bevan, director of fashion and lifestyle PR agency Showroom 22, about becoming an intern.
“I was already interested in working in the fashion industry so I knew that I had better start learning how it worked. There were no jobs waiting for me at Ruby, I needed to earn my place in the industry and at the family business,” said Sharma.
So whilst working at Ruby, and studying full time she began her internship at Showroom 22.
Two years later, while still studying, the position of showroom manager came up at Showroom 22. Sharma stepped into the role, being given time off to attend lectures while she held down a full-time job.
She was about to go to the U.S for a year on a graduate visa when the position of brand manager became available at Ruby. It would be understandable to think that this position may have been kept for her had she decided to pursue this goal, what with Ruby being a family business, but that is not how this particular family works. She realised that if she went to the States for a year, the position of brand manager would not be available to her so she gave up that idea and interviewed for the job.
Starting her role as brand manager for Ruby in 2013, her job entails overseeing and managing the showroom, social media platforms and organising events. This is Sharma’s favourite part of the job, event planning and co-ordination. She learned the ropes at Showroom 22 and said that in another life she would love to work for the huge PR companies that organise international fashion weeks.
Sharma is in the process of moving into buying and sales at Ruby, ever-increasing her set of work skills and continuing to learn the business. Although rather daunted at the moment, she loves the analytical side of sales.
“The perfection, finding out what fits where and finding out what works…numerically, not just creatively.”
Despite feeling that in the beginning, her age, and that fact that she looks younger than she is, made it hard to be taken seriously, that, and the fact that she works in a family business, Sharma has cemented herself in the industry and has grown with each role to the successful individual she is today with a bright future.
“You have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously in a family business,” said Sharma.
And it is clear that Anna-Lise is not shy of hard work.
So how does one become successful under 30?
“It’s all hard work. No–one is lucky. Go for what you want and if you have an inkling of what you want to do then go and ask if you can work there. Put yourself out there. Ask for help. Oh, and always be honest and real.”