A Cut Above The Rest – Coimbatore

A third generation businesswoman, part of the well-known SNR family, Swathy Rohit’s ancestors have inhabited the textile town of Coimbatore for more than 300 years. She is the proud descendent of two doyens of industry – PGS Naidu and Kuppuswamy Naidu. An entrepreneur, qualified engineer, philanthropist, sports enthusiast and gourmand, she is one of Coimbatore’s most inspiring young women and lets RITZ in on some lesser known secrets to her multi-faceted personality.

She’s one of those women who is involved in multiple ventures, but is able to manage every one of them with equal aplomb. Her paternal family runs the venerable SNR Sons Trust which manages several educational institutions, a 700-bed hospital – one of the best in South India if truth be told. “It is the second largest charitable trust in western Tamil Nadu after PSG Sons Trust,” says Swathy Rohit, as she proudly continues to describe her family’s illustrious heritage. Yet, the lady who was born with the quintessential silver spoon chooses to spend her time working in not one, but multiple fields, using her sharp mind and incredible talent to further the economy and cultural scape of her home town.

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“I am a qualified mechanical engineer who studied at the University of Virginia, one of the best public universities in the United States. However, I chose to make my life and career back home in Coimbatore and am currently the chairperson of the Young Indians chapter here,” she says. Young Indians is a constituent of CII, India’s leading industry body with chapters across the country. The Coimbatore chapter is the  largest individual chapter in the country. “Coimbatore’s signature event is Coimbatore Vizha where arts and culture are showcased for locals. Numerous individual organisations come together for a week in January every year and put together events including an art exhibition, culinary competitions, music performances, theatre, talks etc. This is a modest Coimbatore equivalent of similar events in larger cities. Other initiatives this year are Project Komal where sexual harassment awareness in schools is being increased manifold, and Coimbatores’s biggest ever organ donation drive is being launched. I am also a former chairperson of FICCI Ladies Organization, Coimbatore,” she elaborates.

Swathy also works with her husband in the privately held Premier Spg & Wvg Mills Pvt. Ltd., a vertically integrated manufacturer of apparel fabric with a long track record of success. “I am responsible for marketing of branded fabrics and am taking the company into exciting new product categories,” she describes her role enthusiastically.

Mother to a 9-year-old, Swathy says she’s old-fashioned in many ways and chooses to make ample time for her family, including her husband Rohit and son Rana. “My house is an open house for family and friends and I enjoy entertaining,” is her response. Despite her multiple roles in her varied career choices, she makes time to pursue one of her favourite hobbies – designing garments. “I design menswear for the men in my life,” she explains with a delighted laugh. “My designs are inspired by the icons of fashion like Steve McQueen and Tom Ford. The general concept for my collections is the finest of fabrics, modern styling and impeccable finish made using traditional techniques, but very much suited to the modern lifestyle.”

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True to her carefree spirit, Swati charts her own course in several of her choices. “I wear precious jewellery every day, in a more laid-back way than my mother or grandmother’s generation would have worn theirs. My wardrobe goes back to that spirit of relaxed glamour. I love well-made clothes in good fabrics and clean cuts, but I never want to look too formal.  I dress according to my mood, and with one eye on social commitments (we have a lot of those in Coimbatore). Over the course of a day, I might have a meeting with a buyer, family lunch, and then the school run, before heading to an event or a dinner. I can’t change five times a day so I wear an outfit where I can change the jewellery and shoes,” she says.

She’s partial to well-known designer duo Shivan and Narresh, good friends of hers, and JC Obando, Anna Wintour’s latest protege. If you see her running around in a pair of Nike x J Crew sneakers (in hot pink with a turquoise swoosh) then you know she’s been having a hard day juggling between her umpteen commitments. “Over and above all my work, my new obsession is yoga and perfecting the head stand! I’m able to get into the position, but end up crash landing on the way down,” she says with a laugh.

A new obsession, she continues, is personalising anything and everything. “It’s so nice to live in Coimbatore as you can get  anything and everything customised and in record time, be it a mechanical part or jewellery. Everybody goes to resorts to relax but the luxuries of living in a small town are that when you come home, you have a whole lot of quality time to spend with family and pursue hobbies. Coimbatore really is the best of both worlds – well connected to big cities but yet it’s a place where everybody knows your name and they really are always glad you came … to borrow a line from the American show,” she says, signing off with a flourish