My story (in short ) and my entrepreneurial journey, so far...
Born and brought up in Delhi, I was always a “good student” during my school days. Through the college years, I made life-long friends and had an awesome time growing up! School and college are some of the most memorable times of almost everyone’s life and mine were no different. How I wish I could bring back that time to relive those memories just one more time!
That said, I’ve had a pretty eventful life, thereafter and so far as well :D
Did my honours, aced the MCP course along the way, and picked up a trainee-job with a stipend of Rs.2,400/- per month, in Chandigarh ( I know!). Never thought that Chandigarh will eventually become my home for the “next-innings” of my life. Kicked the job (realised that I was never meant to be an employee), met my life-partner, got married, became a mom…things unfolded rather quickly and before I realised, we were in 2006. Time was just flying by!
I always knew I was meant to do my own thing and
early 2006 was my calling to start my
entrepreneurial journey. I put together Rs.10,000/- (that’s what I
had) as my investment to start a “minuscule-scale”, reselling
business of ready-made suits, which I hand-picked from some of the
most difficult-to-negotiate parts of Delhi. I was good at not only
knowing the taste of my target clientele, I was also very good at
picking the right stuff (good material and good designs) for them.
AND I knew Delhi like the back of my hand…that helped :)
Even when I was conducting business from my drawing room, I did it with conviction and trust in my abilities, never doubting myself and never wanting to look back. I started inching forward and slowly and gradually I was able to save enough to achieve my next goal of buying a commercial sewing machine and affording a part-time tailor-master. Himja’s Boutique.
I was overjoyed with being able to achieve my first milestone but I knew there was so much more that needed to be done. During all this time (from day one of starting my business), I knew that a lot of things will change with time and things did change…in a good way. From a single commercial-grade sewing machine to a full-scale setup with eight Juki sewing machines (another chota sa dream fulfilled) for two tailor-masters, six full-time tailors, two machine-embroiders, four hand-work (hand-embroidery) kaarigars, and a good boutique setup in a separately rented space, all the hard-work had finally started to bear results. Beads Boutique - by Himja.
Things were going well and I knew it was time for me to realise my other passion…designing and “personalising” furnishings and furniture for kids rooms. I was beginning to make savings from my first venture, which helped me to diversify and launch Littlekittens, which became extremely popular for rolling out creative furnishings and personalised furnishings for kids rooms. Within about fourteen months of doing online retail (under Littlekittens), I accumulated enough corpus to not only lease my own retail outlet but also setup my own furniture manufacturing unit. Furniture manufacturing was concentrated on kids furniture… this was destined to change, in the future though.
Nine years of hard-work and finally I was happy that my clients were spread across India…my awesome team, which handled the online promotion of my e-commerce store played an important role. And the fact that my products exceeded the level of expectations of my clients (given the extremely affordable pricing) definitely helped in sustaining and growing repeat business. I was, now, in a happy place :)
As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant”, in our life everything changes around us all the time. I decided to take a sabbatical from my work. Decision was entirely mine. But the fact that I was able to setup and run a successful business all on my own from ground-up, gave me the confidence and courage to take a break. I knew I had had the ability and good sense to pick up again after the interval. It was just like when you’re watching an engrossing movie with an intense storyline, sometimes you want the interval to happen so that you can go out and grab a bucket of popcorns and a soda for yourself and chill out a little bit before going in and picking up the threads of the storyline again, you know? INTERVAL.
An year and change later, I was back in the game :)
I had “chilled-out” to my heart’s content and I was ready to start my new inning with a couple of different ideas…I wanted to challenge myself so restarting something in which I had already excelled wasn’t as exciting, anymore. My children are my lifeline and spending my break-time with them with undivided attention made me realise the need of good career-counselling for children and their parents. I set foot on a different path. I studied hard and worked extremely hard to become a CERTIFIED CAREER COUNSELLOR before I launched Careers Club .
Ok, let’s reverse just a little bit…in my time during my break from work, I had started to reflect back upon all the hardships and difficulties that I faced as an entrepreneur. And the more I thought about those times (I was chilling AND I had a lot of free time :D) the more I was convinced that these were not the problems that every entrepreneur faces… these were unique problems that almost every WOMAN ENTREPRENEUR faces!
I had to do something to change this equation.
After launching Careers Club, I started to focus on how to help other women entrepreneurs. I was apprehensive but I never had any doubts about doing something that could help other women entrepreneurs. The truth is that during my time-off from work, I met many women who were running their own businesses but were continuously facing challenges and struggles, which most men think that such problems do not even exist. They are correct…these problems do not exist for them ! Every time I would meet a woman entrepreneur the story of her constant struggle and challenges would, more or less, repeat. In a lot of cases the challenges and circumstances faced by women entrepreneurs were so extreme that I would feel sad thinking that women, even in this modern era , still have to face such extreme circumstances especially if they wish to become a “ career woman ”. I started taking notes and I started to keep count of women entrepreneurs that I met. Every time I met someone, it would strengthen my resolve to do something for the “ community ” of women entrepreneurs. I met 127+ women entrepreneurs…127 that I kept count of and + as I met many before I started to keep a count.
I was now more determined than ever.
I had so many thoughts and ideas but everything was “scattered”. I penned everything down and put together a plan. It was now time for action.