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Unlike normal peers he had never been too keen on the mainstream education. And, his remarkable skills in sketching along with an extraordinary mind took him to the designing industry. Today he is one of the most popular names in the fashion world.
Let’s get to know Raju Panna of Patna who made his mark at Milan fashion week, Italy, last year.His principal focus is on perfection. He tries to assure that the work he is doing must be done with class and flawless virtuoso.
With the theme of ‘Design for life’, he pushes himself a bit further every time thinking that it brings him closer to a stupendous excellence. He believes that perfection can’t be built in a single stroke, you have to put yourself in the work you are doing, and after a long and dedicated period of time perfection will knock the door. This is the prime cynosure he considers while doing several things at a time.
He was not focussed on the techniques which were already present in the industry. For instance, if you ask an engineer to construct a wall, he will not build it himself, he will guide to the worker. Cutting the garments is not his work, but he does it himself because the idea which he has on his mind can be understood very well by no one other than him. So, along with designing, he can actually makes it.
The difficult designs I used to think and create, another person could not understand and interpret it. He would say he could not make it out. So, ultimately he had to do it himself.
Before NIFT, he was not in the queue he was aiming to be in. But now he’s in the queue aiming to strive further with having achieved 80% of his plans. Highly ambitious, he still has loads of things in his checklist , and becoming a Globally Renowned Designer being one of them for which he continuously struggles to mark his presence on an international level.
Raju Panna belongs to a tribal family from Jharkhand. His parents later moved to Patna, where he was born and raised. When he realized his skills, he headed to NIFT Delhi in 1997. It was a life changing experience for him as moving from a small city to the capital city of India was a big move. After Delhi, he went to Italy for his M.A. studies. He has traveled and worked a lot on a Global level.
While constantly leaping forward in pursuance he never left his parents and moved them along with him from Jharkhand to Italy. Going to Italy or any other big places does not mean world class designs can be fabricated there only. A man can create a design even in a forest if he wants to feed his passion! He got this clarity in his vision in his work as well as in his personal life, that it is not necessary to sit in a hub for designing. He can do it anywhere. Last fashion show he did was an instance of his belief that he can work in Italy while sitting in Patna.
With a belief in designing for life his designs are always technical and pragmatic, and path-breaking which are apart from normal designs. He thinks that the dresses should be convenient for everyone. This drives him to work on the three elements :technical, practical and perfection.
He has simplified various things in designing by making them technical and practical. In NIFT, he tried to simplified technicalities for 3 years, and has 15 years of experience. Summing that up he can teach people in 2 years. He can save everybody’s life by teaching them experiences who are meant to struggle for 15 years like he did. This experience comes from studies, and now he sees the benefits of studying. When you study, you cut your years short, which gives you more time to live and experience your work.
He has 4 people in his team, 3 tailors and his childhood friend Manoj Kumar who has been in all of his works. They try to achieve the quality on the world level, so that if the garment goes out somewhere, it can be able to represent the quality like that of Calvin Klein or some other international brands. So that no one can say that the garment is of low quality or needs more improvements; because it has some professional index and technicalities. They are working close to perfection. He has good tailors and Manoj has been working on their perfection, so that they can achieve an International level. So if they are sitting in Patna, it should not mean they are just here rather working on an international level. He has a lot of support from his team as they are working on his ideas.
His family and friends have supported him a lot. When he was in NIFT, his friends supported him a lot, in terms of money and moral support. If they had not supported him, he would not be standing here. He just had a circle of 5-6 friends who tried a lot to teach him because he was not good in studies.
He follows a mantra of strengthening his skills more and working on his weaknesses. It takes a long period of time but strengthening himself is the key thing. People think they should only work on their weaknesses and then move on to their work. But he is vigorous in this case, as he focuses on his strengths more and tries to excel in it; along with working on his weaknesses. He thinks that once you strengthen your strengths, you have very less people around you. So, strengthen your strengths and work continuously on your weaknesses.
Although we have competitions, the canvas is very big for any field. Patience is needed in every sphere. For instance, people used to talk about him, that he has not gone anywhere since 10 years. That time he thought that it would not take more than 5 years to get what he had planned. He thinks that it’s a long journey which needs patience and time to reach the final destination where you’ve aimed to be at. Without giving your time, you cannot achieve your goals, there is no shortcut. In his case,he started working after 10 years and now he is getting the result of his work. Not everybody learns from someone, sometimes time teaches us too. So, we need to give in to time and focus and formulate the base.
In his opinion, people should work according to their interests. You should not try to be what you are not. So be what you really are, so that you can work happily for your entire life. We should focus on our work, not on what others are doing. Like, when you are running in a race, you should focus on yourself, not others. We should have an aim to achieve, instead of watching around what people are doing.
Discipline is a must. We should have a goal that at least one big task can be achieved in a year. It can be anything. Everybody should have their own set of disciplines and rules. Raju Panna always has a target to do a unique task every year, which no one has done yet. He has been following it since a few years. He always tries to do a work which would be a breakthrough in his running field by trying to achieve impossible tasks, whether it is big or small. Unachievable goals are long term plans which takes almost 5 years. He sets small goals and tries to achieve them one by one. And then again plan for 5 year goals and continue the cycle till an extraordinary level is reached. Every year, he plans for the next 5 year. He is committed to his work which helps him in achieving goals his goals. He has been abroad for 18 years and when he returned he planned about doing Milan fashion week in the next 2 years, and finally did it last year. So, we need to set a goal, plan where and how to do it, and go for all the possibilities to achieve it. When you work sincerely, God shows the path to your goals. So keep going on and have faith in your work.
He has never trusted in self advertising. Also, he doesn’t like bragging too much about himself. Like he says he won’t even care to create a board to show where the studio of Raju Panna is. He just has a small board as per the norm requires. Working good is the key of advertisement. When you work good, people are sure to notice it. He believes in simplicity and keeping things as simple as they can be. He designs things but lives simply. He wears simple attires and leaves his home in slippers very often because a comfortable and simple life without glitz and show off is all he wants.
After graduating from NIFT, he got his job. At the same time he was selected for a garment competition, for which he had prepared his garments. For that he asked for a leave of one week from his company. But they did not agree, instead they granted him a leave for just 3 days. Due to that quit his job and started working on designing the garments. During that, one of his friends fled away with a girl whose father was in a police department. They got scared and left their homes. Then he realised he had left his garments at home! After that they wandered on the roads for 3 days, with no home,no food, and no money. They were scared to go to home in fear of being caught by the police but he always had God on his side. Finally, when the day of the competition arrived, and finally he displayed his garments in the show. This is an example of how life gets unexpected twists. 3 days ago, he was homeless and starving, and on the fourth day he was in a luxury hotel.
His future plans are sharpening his skills, the next target is to do Ph.D. next year and continue the journey of his impeccably disciplined and visionary life.