Spearheading the biggest online art market in India, Minal Vazirani is the subcontinent’s art-collector supreme.
She started her professional life in management consulting but today runs Saffronart, an international auction house deeply connected to its Indian roots, with offices in Mumbai, Delhi, London and New York.
Since 2000 Saffronart sold over 16,000 objects worth millions of dollars to almost 5,000 buyers, redefining how people look at Indian art along the way.
She shared her advice on how to reach the top of the international art scene with CNN.
Vazirani was in the middle of a particularly difficult project in her job as a management consultant when she decided it was time for her to change the course of her career. “Even though I enjoyed what I did, I found that it was time to make a break, and step into a world that I was completely absorbed with,” she says.
Get the expertise
When it came to learning about art, Vazirani and her husband, fellow co-founder of Saffronart, started voraciously reading about the subject, meeting artists and acquiring their work. “It’s a process of training your eye and absorbing whatever you can,” she says, “I think once you learn that, you’re invested in it, and I don’t mean invested financially, but emotionally, intellectually, and it becomes a part of your identity, of who you are,” she adds.
The main challenges Vazirani and her husband faced when they started an online business in India 15 years ago was that internet penetration in the country was relatively low. “There was a sense of disbelief about what we were doing, people were saying it was crazy, it’s never going to work. It was a novel concept at the time,” she says.
However, the collector was able to predict that the demand for buying expensive works of art online and having them delivered straight to the purchaser’s door was going to grow. Vazirani’s inaugural auction in 2000 grossed $126,000 dollars, but a single sale five years later tallied $17.5 million.
Appreciate the privilege
The art maven says that the best thing about her new job is the sheer beauty that is constantly around her: “It’s not necessarily beauty that’s easy to live with, I don’t mean a pretty picture,” she says. “But it’s being surrounded by the perspective of an artist, being being able to see the world around you through somebody else’ lens.”
Keep the fate
Vazirani says that the most important aspect of turning a a passion into a business is resilience. “It’s very difficult to maintain conviction when you go through downturns and difficult periods,” she says. “As long as you have a belief in what you’re doing, I think that really sees you through virtually any situation.”