When you walk into the Aroras’ Juhu villa, you feel like you have stepped into an episode of the BBC’s The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes. The five-storied home, designed by the Singapore-based Argentinian architect Ernesto Bedmar, is lavish. There is furniture from Christian Liaigre, silk carpets custom-made in Belgium and planters brought from Bali. Perhaps the opulence is unsurprising, even warranted, seeing how the Aroras own D’Décor, a leading home couture destination and, reputedly, the largest woven upholstery and curtain mill in the world.
Sanjana Arora, the elder daughter of Sanjay Arora, managing director at D’Décor Exports, leads me to an intimate seating area behind the bar and cigar lounge. Above the leather sofa is a collage of framed black-and-white photographs of the family taken by celebrity photographer Dabboo Ratnani. “My favourite part of the house is the terrace,” says Sanjana, referring to the outdoor space on the fifth floor with a barbecue and teppanyaki counter. “I entertain many of my friends there. I consider it my personal zone.”
Sanjana, 25, joined the family business after she graduated from Babson College in Boston five years ago. She is the brain behind D’Décor retail, having conceptualised stores in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata. She is also responsible for the domestic distribution of D’Décor’s latest category, D’Decor Blinds. Recently, she was closely involved with the brand’s latest ad campaign—Beautiful homes tell beautiful stories—starring Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan. Conceptualised by JWT, the series of short films was directed by Punit Malhotra and marked ten years of the brand’s association with Shah Rukh and Gauri.
Sanjana says she always knew she wanted to join D’Decor. “I grew up listening to dinner conversations about the business,” she says. Today, she is part of those discussions, especially with her father. Sometimes, she says her mother and sister refuse to have dinner with them because they are always discussing work. “At parties, you will find me and my dad standing apart, having heated discussions about the business,” she says, adding that today, her father is one of her closest friends.
In many ways, she says luxury is something her father’s generation enjoys more than she and her sister. “He has grown into it,” she says. “I was born into it.” She says she is very economical with her purchases. “Maybe it is because I work and I am the budget person of the company,” she says with a laugh.
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that she is only 25 years old. Are there times when she forgets business and lets her hair down? “Yes, of course,” she says. “I work hard. When you see that red or green line on the finance sheet, you understand responsibility. But I also party.” In fact, as we leave, the family is getting dressed to step out for an evening party. They are discussing the logistics—who is going to go with whom and in which car. “My mother thinks I got a degree in partying,” Sanjana quips.
SANJAY ARORA, managing director, D’Décor Exports
Sanjana has been instrumental in launching new products like D’Decor Blinds and D’Decor Rugs. I have watched her grow these products to where they are now. She is just great at what she does! We are always in sync when it comes to achieving the final goal. The best advice I have given her is ‘value your loyal people, they are your true assets’.