Rachel lakhiani is a bright young entrepreneur who seeks to “touch consumers’ lives” through innovative digital marketing and branding campaigns. “We seek to connect brands with users by bridging market demand and business ambition,” declares the founder and Director of Label Ideas & Co. during an interview at her company’s open and transparent office space in Mega Kuningan. Just as she can observe them at work, so her people can see her in her glass-walled office at all times. And her is door is always open – literally.
Label Ideas & Co., which she launched in July 2013, is a “below-the-line” marketing and branding agency for big names in the fast moving consumer goods arena, like Prost beer and Yamaha motorcycle parts. “As the digital world is rapidly taking over, we are constantly keeping up with the trend,” she explains. From brand strategy to website development, e-commerce and packaging design, the company works to “ensure a brand’s digital presence is always present and engaging for target audiences”.
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A below-the-line agency like Rachel’s is one that strives to reach consumers one at a time, instead of millions in the mass. It does so directly online, rather than through a TV commercial. By contrast, a big-budget “above-the-line” advertising agency typically uses TV commercials and billboard ads to reach the masses. The epitome of above-the-line marketing is perhaps an American football Super Bowl TV ad, which costs millions of dollars for seconds of airtime.
“Above-the-line is not something I would ever want to do,” says Rachel. “It doesn’t interest me. The issue for us is how to create brands that are meaningful in a market where everything is going digital. We complement the big agencies, which generally don’t have digital marketing and branding departments of their own and prefer to outsource web stuff. I realised this while I was working at Bates (an advertising and marketing agency and member of the WPP Group) for three months in 2012. I saw that there was a niche for a firm like mine. After finding an investor, we’ve grown from two people initially to 26 today, organised into three teams.” As might be expected of a start-up in the digital space, Rachel has a young crew. Her oldest employee is only 35.
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Before joining Bates, Rachel worked as a brand coordinator at The Papilion luxury retail complex in Kemang. “I learned a lot there, but I realised that I’m not the kind of person who is happy working under someone else,” she says. “Based on my experiences at The Papilion and Bates, I discovered that to be happy I really needed to go out on my own.”
Born as Rachel Nathani, the daughter of industrialist Sunnil Nathani and Raveena Nathani, she attended Jakarta International School, gaining her International Baccalaureate in 2008. “Growing up, my parents taught me about value for God, care for elders and the value of education,” she says. “What they taught me through religion allowed me to have faith in all that I do, and taught me long-lasting morals. They made sure they visited my grandparents every week, which made me realise that caring for elders should be a big part of our lives. As for education, they would give up everything just to see me do well. They would push me to do better. This is really the foundation on which I work today – ‘Sacrifice for greatness’.”
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Rachel went on to study at Parsons School of Design in Greenwich Village, New York City, from where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Business degree in Design and Management in 2011.“I knew no one in the city when I arrived, and my first year there was pretty miserable,” Rachel recalls. New York can be a tough, lonely place, as you might expect. But after a while I made some good friends. The next couple of years were fine.”
Rachel compensated for her loneliness by working hard. “I finished my four-year degree course in three years, taking seven classes each semester instead of the usual three or four,” she says. “At high school, I had been a bit lax about my studies. But in college I became a workaholic and even got onto the dean’s list.”
During her New York days, Rachel interned at Baby Phat Jeans, where she met model and entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons. “I did things like get coffee for her, but I’m sure Kimora wouldn’t remember me now,” she laughs. “She had her reality show then and she was acting the diva. But when the cameras had gone away, she wasn’t as mean to people as she appeared to be on the show.”
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Rachel’s most fateful meeting in New York was her first with her future husband, Amrit Lakhiani, son of the late Banu Lakhiani and Sonia Lakhiani, in 2011. Amrit had been living in Chicago. He took a trip to the Big Apple and he and Rachel were introduced to each other by a mutual friend.
Was it a case of love at first sight? “Oh no,” Rachel laughs. “Sure, I liked him. I thought he was a really smart guy, and good looking, of course. We kept in touch, though. I guess we had known each other for 18 months and we had respect for each other, before our relationship blossomed into romance.”
Amrit popped the question on board a yacht in Bali in 2016. Once wedding planning began, the couple created an Instagram account to keep a record of the event under the hashtag #itsAMoRA. They got married in Florence last June. It was a glamorous four-day affair (June 18-21) that included a Christian service in a baroque palace on the river, and was attended by more than 400 guests, 80 percent of whom flew over from Indonesia.
The romantic wedding festivities got underway on June 18 with a ghari puja (Sindhi pre-wedding ritual) at The Westin Excelsior, Florence, a renaissance palace in the city centre with cutting-edge contemporary interiors. The ritual took place on the rooftop, which offers views across the city. In the evening there was a welcome dinner with a “Fairy Lights and Fairy Tales” theme at the Michelin-starred Winter Garden by Caino restaurant at The St Regis Florence. The couple looked stunning in Gaurav Gupta and Shantanu & Nikhil outfits.
Day two saw the Christian service of Holy Matrimony take place at the 17th-century Palazzo Corsini, a spectacular setting on the Arno. Rachel wore a floor-sweeping lace gown by Zuhair Murad, while Amrit donned a Tom Ford suit. “Love and Lemons” was the day’s theme and the guests were handed small limoncello bottles. There was a fun evening to be enjoyed with French trip Paris House Addict hitting the stage.
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Day three, with the theme “Roses and Rituals”, was devoted to the Indian wedding and traditions: the baarat (groom’s wedding procession, with Amrit making his entrance like Ben Hur in a Roman chariot), pheras (when the couple pray to God for plenty of nourishing and pure food) and sangeet (a celebration of the coming together of the two families). With Rachel looking fabulous in a red dress from Manish Malhotra’s bridal collection, these ceremonies were held at Villa Le Corti, a magnificent renaissance Tuscan estate with vineyards, olive trees and woods to be found a few miles from the city.
The Indian wedding ceremony took place at sunset. Says Rachel: “It was so romantic. As it grew dark, the fireworks show started and we walked around the fire.” On day four, the fun came to an end with a delightful post-wedding lunch, for which Rachel chose another Manish Malhotra gown.
The couple shared the wedding-planning duties, Amrit handling transportation, reservations and hotels, while Rachel took care of decorations, entertainment and flowers. “We had meetings once a week to review progress,” she says. “How did we do all that and run our businesses at the same time? Well, I didn’t sleep for six months!
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“Amrit and I are best friends as well as husband and wife,” says Rachel. “We complement each other with our personalities and skill sets. He has his own business to run (Win Properties, a township developer and affiliate of the Ravindo Group) and I have mine. But I do think we could work together without having fights. He’s a finance guy and I’m good at marketing. We’re both entrepreneurs and workaholics, so we understand each other on that level. It’s not as if I’m ever upset and complaining about being alone at home while he’s still at the office – or vice versa.”
Rachel says she and Amrit would both like to start a family in a couple of years. “We’re still young and busy building our businesses at present,” she notes. “But yes, we’d like to have two or three children. I’m definitely looking forward to becoming a mom one day.”
Photographed by Mario Ardi
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