E Week Yatra Stories

Talking the Walk

TedX Conference, Velammal Engineering College, Chennai

Feb 9, 10 am


I stepped into the TEDx Conference hosted by Velammal Engineering College E Cell right in time for an inspiring talk by Christian Fabre, founder of Christian Fabre designer brand. I expected a fashionable gentleman with a French accent. Instead, he turned out to be a Swami in orange robes, who introduced himself as Swami Paranavananda.


As regular readers of Page 3, we found it strange that fashion and spirituality can meet this way. He gauged our questions right away. “Imagine yourself in love. Your thoughts are with your beloved, but that doesn’t stop you from working and eating. It’s the same situation with me; I don’t find any dichotomy at all,” he explained.


Sharing his entrepreneurial journey, Fabre recalled his early years in India 38 years ago, when he came to India with his wife and child to work in a leather trading company. A change in government rules banning export of leather left him without a job three years later. His family left him too, when he refused to leave India for France. With no money or family, he struggled for a few months till he got a job in a design company where he worked for ten years. Fabre always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and one day he quit his job to start his own apparel company. The company began by sourcing Indian materials, designs and workmen for French fashion houses. Initially, it produced 50,000 pieces a year. Today, it produces over 4 million and counts at least 60,000 employees. Remarkably, Fabre hasn’t fired a single employee!


Sharing his insights with students and entrepreneurs, he advised, “Just be stupid. Smart thinking will keep you stuck; it will never let you take off.”


Over 400 students and 40 entrepreneurs attended the TEDx Conference organized for the third time in the country. The E Cell at Velammal Engineering College received a special license from TED International to run the event. It has been a remarkable achievement for them. “A few months ago, we were reviving our ailing E Cell. Today, we are hosting the world’s best known talk event. It is because we have learnt not only to dream big, but also believe that we have the power to make it true,” said VEC’s NEN E Leader Divya Sornaraja.



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