Mompreneurs, Successful Women Entrepreneurs, Women E-Commerce Entrepreneurs

Chaitali Chauhan, ChefD: The Brain Behind a Recipe Kit that Makes Cooking Easier and Creates Healthier Community

“There are two places always crowded, and one place, kind of compliment the other’s business. Any guesses Suba? Let me give you a clue, there is ‘pun’ intended,” smilingly asked Chaitali.

This conversation occurred when I met her a year back to discuss brand strategy and content architecture for the new product company she launched.

We laughed out loud when I kept guessing and giving some random answers. Very few business-meetings become very close to my heart, that day was one among those few.

“Hospitals and Eateries Suba. I often wonder the connection between the crowd in the Fast Food Joints, Restaurants and Road Side Vendors with the increasing crowd in the Hospitals.”

Indeed thought – provoking. I personally believe that I become what I eat. The food has an impact on the way the hormones act and so the reaction in the physical, emotional and mental health.

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Chaitali Chauhan, ChefD

Chaitali continued, “I munched on the reasons why do we eat out. If you think hard, many times we get bored to cook variety as it involves buying the ingredients. Either we may not find the right ingredient to make the dish or buying in bulk where ¾ go waste after we cook the new dish once or twice.

Eating out is an easy solution, right? I continued to munch on and wanted to find ways where one cooks whatever he/she wants without worrying about spending too much. This solution should be definitely healthy, cost-effective and easy to cook too.”

My curiosity doubled at that moment.

Before we move on, few words about Ms. Chaitali Chauhan, Co-Founder, ChefD. Chaitali, mom of two handsome boys, is an Engineer with solid Industry experience, took a break from her career when she had her first kid. Being a creative person, born in Gujarati family, as the tradition encourages, Chaitali has done various artworks in clothes. Using such skills, she founded ‘Silk n Fusion’ focusing on upcycling, designer clothing arena; she re-started her career journey when her first son was around a year old.

Due to various reasons and when she had her second boy, she had to close the business. However, the learnings were huge during the tenure.

The thought about food and diseases kept ringing in her mind and led to a beautiful entity. I listened as she continued after a deep thought for few seconds.

“Such thoughts kept lingering my mind, I came across an experience when I was in a local grocery store. There was a young girl, looked like a college girl, talking over the phone asking about various ingredients. She looked as if she had never done any cooking. I volunteered to help her gather the list of things she wanted. While interacting with her, I realized the situation these millennials are in.

Many men and women in this digital world do not even know certain ingredients like hing, turmeric exist. They do not know how to identify and differentiate various lentils, oils, and other ingredients.  I must say that I was stunned.

I was equally stunned when I heard Chaitali’s experience. Food is an integral part of any culture to exist and survive, especially Indian way of cooking is considered healthy worldwide.

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Recipe Kit, ChefD.in

“That is when the idea about ChefD came into existence. ChefD solves a basic problem – that an average working family faces today – having access to a healthy and delicious meal.

You check the menu on our website. Choose the one you wanted, check out by adding the numbers and complete payment process, you will receive the recipe kit within the allotted hours.

Say, you order Bisi Bele Bath’ kit from our menu, you will receive the ingredients including the fresh vegetables neatly numbered, packed along with the easy to follow recipe card. You just have to follow the instructions in the card and cook,

Viola! Home cooked, healthy meal is ready. You need not have any formal training in cooking. We make you a Chef.” Proudly said Chaitali.

ChefD has become a familiar name among young working professionals and budding Entrapreneurs.

I met Chaitali again last week in order to gather more information to share with my beloved readers.

“Congratulations Chaitali, I am happy to see ChefD benefiting many out there. Can you please brief about the few challenges you faced initially? How did you overcome such challenges?” I asked.

“Sure Suba. With ChefD, I wanted to do everything right from the beginning. I had experience handling various issues during ‘Silk n Fusion’ days.

That’s the reason I joined hand with Mr. Uday Rathod who has tremendous experience in managing multiple businesses. Right from product design to Quality, whatever concerns and queries I had, I sought help from the right people. I learnt to define the concerns and seek the right help from right professionals.

I appointed an Auditor who helps with Finances, Uday for Strategic decisions, you for content architecture, of course, my husband Kirthi who is my ‘go to’ person for all concerns and guidance. I decided to take one step at a time, but do it right at the first time.”

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Chaitali Chauhan, ChefD @ Awfis

I was impressed with the way she has been building the company confidently, steadily and strategically by investing in professional support and seeking help in the right way from the family.

“That is indeed brilliant strategy Chaitali. It has been one year, right? Is there any specific challenge you came across in recent times? If so, how did you resolve it?”

“Oh, yes Suba. Even though I have managed Accounts, Finances during my corporate and earlier Entrepreneurial journey, there were hiccups I faced with the introduction of GST and all.  ChefD being a product company, handling the cash flow was very challenging, especially since our entity is a bootstrap.

And, as I was taking a keen interest in managing the finances of the company, I realized that in today’s times, it is also very important to manage personal finances well; the right structure and methodical planning is key here.

And, this quest led me to join the APC channel of Kotak Group of Companies and I completed the 6-day course at Kotak Life Insurance Company. I am now a licensed Financial Services Consultant for Life and Health Insurances, studying towards getting licenses and being able to handle other financial products. And now, not only

I am able to manage my Finances well; I also guide people in managing their finances and investments. Every day is a learning but I am highly confident about my positioning now.”

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Recipe Kit, ChefD Menu

What is one thing that you would like to tell women on a career break or those who want to start something new?

“It is never too late to start something that you love. Keep an eye on your goal that you want to reach. Remember, only your actions can make things happen. And, as I read somewhere……If you find a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”

Profound Indeed! I wished Chaitali and ChefD the very best! I also spend quality hours looking at different recipes, the numbering of the ingredients, clear instruction, and most importantly, ChefD takes good care of the packing.  I am sure, ChefD will make the world best chefs at each household and develop a healthier Community!

 

Seeking help strategically is an art. Do your homework well, Invest right to get professional guidance, ask right questions to gain family support. Win over this World” – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio.

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Chaitali Chauhan is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

Mompreneurs, Successful Women Entrepreneurs, Women E-Commerce Entrepreneurs

Jaya Shukla, Tushions, the Leading E-Commerce Cloth Diaper Entity in India: IIT-IIM Alumni Turned Mompreneur with a Mission to Reduce ‘Diaper Landfills’

“You know what Suba…..We always say that India’s biggest strength is the workforce. However, if you dig deeper, you will realize that the skilled workforce pool is much smaller. It is not just about IT or other white-collar jobs but also in all other areas. When it comes to Tushions, ‘stitching’ for instance, even though we have tailors available at every nook and corner, there are a very few who can actually do a professional and consistent job.”

The very first words from Jaya Shukla, the founder of Tushions, made me straighten up as I was sipping coffee at her Home-office. I continued listening before shooting my questions.

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Jaya Describing the Product, the latest release from Tushions to Suba

Tushions is the fast-growing Cloth Diapering Retailer in India, founded in 2015. Started with retailing cloth diapers from the best brands across the world to create their own brand – Green Diapers. Jaya is an IIT-IIM graduate who founded Tushions after a decade in the corporate world. A mother of 2 beautiful boys aged 3 years and 1 month, she has now joined the bandwagon of a new breed of entrepreneurs – ‘The Mompreneur.’ An inspiring journey follows……

“To manufacture these diapers in India, we need a skilled workforce, whereas most of the tailors available do not have the desired finesse required by a branded product. So, I am currently spending a lot of time, working with the selected tailors to guide them on how to make these diapers, to meet world-class standards. Sometimes, it takes weeks before a worker is ready to make the actual diaper which can be sold.”

“Oh…weeks, Is it? Reminded of Colin Powel’s words, ‘Dream doesn’t become a reality through Magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work.’……tell me Jaya, about your dream? Where and how did it start?” Jaya gave a warm smile when I asked her.

I could sense that her mind is travelling a few years down the memory lane.

“Immediately after my IIM, I happily joined the corporate world, was growing very well and making significant progress in many ways. I got married, had my first boy, worked until the day I delivered my son. My boy changed my life altogether. Our son was a frequent pooper, and prone to Eczema, I used to replace at least 12 disposable diapers a day. We even had a big dustbin dedicated for this. At the end of the third month, we had spent more than Rs.10,000 on the disposable diapers.

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Jaya, Founder of Tushions, the leading Cloth Diaper Entity

Everyone who visited us, especially the elders, recommended that we used nappies instead of disposable ones. I have a habit of not ignoring the suggestions, always try to reason out things. When I decided to understand the reason behind ‘why NO disposable diaper’ the information about the ‘landfill’ quite shocked me. Every time, when I was disposing the diaper on the dustbin, my guilt was going high up.

At the same time, changing a nappy every 15 minutes was turning about to be quite difficult; when a friend told me about ‘modern cloth diapers.  I could not believe that such a product actually existed. I finally ordered one from the US, waited a month for it to reach here, tried it and Viola! 

A moment of truth!” chuckled Jaya and I reciprocated too.

“We started with retailing the best cloth diaper brands from across the world and then graduated to creating our in brand – Green Diapers. We design our diapers keeping the Indian climate and preferences in mind. Some of our diapers prints are so popular, that customers buy baby clothes to match them and plan photo shoots around it.”

“Great, but you were working, right? How did you manage work as well Tushions? Not only Women, but many men also undergo the dilemma of how to work between a day job and the dream.”

I was very curious while asking this question.

“It was one highly challenging time for me Suba. The idea about Tushions happened when I was on maternity leave. Unlike many women struggling to Join work post maternity, I had a perfect support system at workplace and home. When we were discussing leaving the full-time cushy job and starting something on my own, that too, with some vague picture on how to go about it, all my well-wishers including my parents were concerned.

It was my Husband and Mother-in-Law who completely supported me to start it. Looking at my son and the guilt trip while changing his diaper every few hours pushed me harder to achieve my dream.”

“That’s one inspiring Journey Jaya……Entrepreneurship is not that easy, right? Especially, ‘you’ as a person, any specific challenge you would like to share with my audience?” 

I sharpened the listening mode for new learnings.

“Oh yes, even though I love to be a part of gatherings, have a huge friends circle, being under the ‘limelight’ is one thing I am not very comfortable with. I am challenging my ‘mindset’ and coming out as the ‘face of Tushions.

I realized that the brand is the embodiment of my values and beliefs. Recognizing and addressing such beliefs is a continuous process for me as well my brand’s growth.” smiled Jaya with determination.

Each one of has some ‘comfort zone’ to come out of in each phase. Isn’t it?

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Jaya at the Guinness event- Great Cloth Diaper Change

A cry from her newborn (1-month-old) as if acknowledging her words brought us back to reality. She excused herself.

Jaya returned after 20 minutes as I was munching on the discussion we had so far, used that time to collate information for the write-up.

“Tell me about the challenges you face with the product, customers and the business overall?”

“The primary challenge I face is creating awareness about the importance of using cloth diapers. It is beyond Business & Revenue growth for the brand. We have already polluted our beautiful earth, knowingly and unknowingly. I am happy to see the measures taken by the government and us human beings. But, still, the disposable diapers are the vast part of ‘landfills’ all over the world.

The cloth diapers are our ancient system, we were using ‘langots’ or ‘old saree or a dhoti’ as diapers, right? The disposable diapers signify 30% of non – biodegradable waste. The environment majorly is spoiled in the past 20 years when we started using the disposable ones. Even though life becomes more comfortable, each disposable diaper stays on the earth for 500 years. Yes, longer than plastic bags and products.”

I was quite shocked as well hearing this.

“I understand Jaya, mother in me has another question here. All these cloth diapers require a lot of effort to clean and maintain, right? I remember my son soaking it with a single poop or pee. Do you have a solution here?”

“Yes Suba, there is a huge difference between ‘Nappies’ and ‘Cloth diaper.’ One generation of parents is strongly brainwashed through various enticing advertisements that only ‘disposable diapers’ can make the babies sleep well. The modern cloth diapers have come a long way. The parents of today are so fortunate to have a fantastic alternative.

Tushions come with safe, convenient to use cloth diapers which can be put on babies for almost 12 hours. Moreover, our customers equally feel excited whenever we introduce a new product. We also make sure they look good, focus on bringing contemporary design in our products. I am more an ‘R&D’ ian than a Founder when it comes to our customers.”

The smile was indeed infectious, and I wished Tushions a great success before bidding adieu.

“Open Mind, Reasoning and the Right Questioning can do wonders in lives” – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Jaya Shukla is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

Mompreneurs, Successful Women Entrepreneurs, Women E-Commerce Entrepreneurs

Sangeetha Arunachalam, Founder, Kadaiveedhi: A Facebook Group Admin turned an E-Commerce Entrepreneur to Support Mompreneurs

“Individual Commitment to a Group Effort –

That is what makes a Team Work

A Company Work

A Society Work

A Civilization Work”

Vince Lombardi

Ms. Sangeetha Arunachalam and her ‘Kadaiveedhi’ team stand as a perfect example of this words from Vince Lombardi. Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan interacted with Sangeetha, here’s the excerpt from the telephone interview.

Sangeetha Arunachalam 1

Few words from Suba to give a little background. ‘I still remember the day when my co-sister Pavithra, the Art Enthusiasts, added me in ‘Smart Mommies’ group on Facebook. My baby was a year old then. Initially, the group was just a few of us, new moms discussing baby-related issues, started sharing information on what we were doing, career options, businesses and all. Later, the group grew huge; along with, the business posts grew. That was when Sangeetha Arunachalam, the Chartered Accountant by profession, the admin of Smart Mommies group started another group to support Mompreneurs in the name of ‘SM Business Magnates (SMBM).’ Yes, I have personally witnessed the group growing where thousands of buyers and sellers interacting vigorously.’

How did the journey of SMBM lead to ‘Kadaiveethi,’ an E-commerce Portal? Let’s hear from Ms. Sangeetha Arunachalam, the brain and heart behind the venture.

Continue reading “Sangeetha Arunachalam, Founder, Kadaiveedhi: A Facebook Group Admin turned an E-Commerce Entrepreneur to Support Mompreneurs”

Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Sunita Sharma, Femme Fitness: Economic Graduate Turned Fitness Diva

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“Self-Awareness is the key aspect that pushes me ahead every day. I was desperately looking for a job after completing Graduation in Economics from Mumbai University. When I came across an advertisement asking for Fitness Trainer, I didn’t think much and just applied. I showed my inclination towards learning during the interview, and I got selected,” smilingly says Sunita Sharma, the Founder of Femme Fitness, recalling the journey that she started years back.

However, the journey ahead was not an easy one. Sunita became a student first, took rigorous Aerobics training under Leena Mogre, India’s First Women Fitness Coach. Right from Nutrition, Mind health to Physical health, Sunita continuously focused on learning all the aspects when it comes Fitness.

As life always comes with surprises, Sunita went into the corporate world in 2001 in Mumbai. The challenges grew along with her family; when she became a mother of two kids, the growing responsibilities pushed her to take a break from the corporate sector in 2010.

“Even though I decided to take a break from full-time work to balance life, I never wanted to lead a life ‘just to pass time.’ One good thing that happened in life is my ‘never-ending’ thirst towards fitness. I never stopped working out and have always been advancing my skill in the physical fitness arena. I wanted to join a group Fitness session where I could meet people too, started searching for one.

I asked my husband to help me find a gym or Fitness Studio offering group workouts. To our surprise, none of the institutions offered any then. A thought led to me developing group programs, and that is how I founded ‘Femme Fitness.” The proud smile and positivity seemed infectious.

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I asked, “what was the main challenge you faced when you started Femme Fitness? How did you approach the challenge?”

 “Oh, creating awareness on Physical Fitness and making Women come out of their Comfort Zone was highly challenging. Especially, when you are starting small, making people believe in your idea is almost impossible. Only the continuous and tireless effort can push a bit. That’s exactly how I approached the challenge. I stood as a role model keenly focused on continuous learning and sharing my knowledge. I build ‘Trust’ among my first few clients and Quality automatically helped in growing. It looks like a dream having branches in Hyderabad and now in Bangalore” says Sunita as her husband proudly looking at her.

“Great Sunita, I am sure many women out there will be hugely benefitted. Can you share the key challenge you faced in the recent time? How did you approach the same?” I put across a question.

“I am glad that I could create an awareness among women. Now that we are growing, one problem I face is the Manpower. As the demand is growing, I need to have the right set of trainers to create an edge over competitions. There is a dearth of excellent trainers out there. However, to retain those who can very well adapt to the organizational culture of Femme Fitness, I have been offering ‘Train the Trainer’ Programs. The interested, budding and aspiring trainers in the Fitness area must make use of this opportunity. We will soon be expanding in Bangalore.”

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What a great thought! I wished Sunita the best for all the initiatives in the pipeline.

“If you keenly observe, each minute in life brings in new opportunities. Those who are alert, smart get immediately out of their comfort zone, make the complete use of the opportunity and build an Empire. What are you waiting for? Grab it and Move ahead.”– Suba Lakshminarasimhan, SLN Brand Studio

About the Interview‘Word of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Sunita Sharma is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women. Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) launched by Suba focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

 

Resilient Achievers

Dr Lakshmipradha: Epitome of Confidence, Energy, Enthusiasm and Optimism

“Challenge” is a term that does not indicate hurdle; instead, it’s a power to stand against and fight. So never run away from situations. Face them with an unambiguous and positive approach. There is no discrimination at any level; we as humans can achieve anything as long as we don’t mix negative emotions with targets.”

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Dr Lakshmipradha Receiving HerRising Award

When Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio, asked Dr. Lakshmipradha about ‘one advice’ she would like to share with the Women Aspirants, this was her answer.

Heightened confidence shown in her smile, ‘I can do’ attitude shown in her behaviour, walk and talk, it was an ‘instant impressive’ moment for Suba when she met Dr Lakshmipradha during Jobsforher’s HerRising event. Both are HerRising award winners, met during the ‘Expert Corner’ session as Mentors.

They connected offline, this interview is an extract from the conversation they have had later. As a person of Short Stature, the struggles Dr Lakshmipradha faced were countless. But, the most crucial aspect each one of us needs to know is how she overcame and succeeded in all the things she took up.

Dr Lakshmipradha started a career journey as a Dental Surgeon, later she embraced technology and started working as a Business Analyst, Healthcare domain consultant and Delivery Manager in various IT organizations and MNCs.

Dr Lakshmipradha has also been giving motivational and keynote speeches on various occasions.

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Suba: It is an absolute pleasure knowing you, Dr Lakshmipradha. I would like to highlight the specific struggles you had faced in life. I am using the word ‘highlight’ here because I am sure your journey will inspire many to come out of the shell and do the things they deserve to do.

Lakshmipradha: Thank you, Suba, for your positive words, you can call me Pradha or Lakshmi. (With a sweet smile, she continued).

True, each one of us has stories and different battles to share with this world Suba.

I had numerous challenges to face, mainly, lack of acceptance due to my short stature. Right from my school days, it would take fellow students and teachers a long time to accept me as ‘one among them.’ Later in college, people used to wonder whether I would be able to acquire skills like any other student and my ability in doing the procedures. When I shifted my career to IT field, it continued as the employers worrying about the customer accepting me.

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It was extremely challenging for me to make people believe that I can do things normally like anybody else. I pushed myself multiple steps and, not only proved that I can do but also achieved various accolades too.

Perceptions, Suba…..We are wired to see, assume and judge others based on our thoughts, beliefs which infact create a lot of challenges for ‘us’ as well as ‘others.’

Yes, I have proven people who doubted my ability in ‘travelling alone,’ ‘living independently,’ ‘cooking & managing home alone.’ I can, and I am performing day to day activities like anyone else living in this mother earth.

Her smile was heart touching.

Suba: That’s impressive Pradha. I have seen people not even realizing that they were hurting others due to ignorance. Sensitizing people towards discrimination. Even though things are changing ‘on paper’ I am sure the reality is still far away. How did you manage when people discriminate you or anyone else for any reasons?

Lakshmipradha: I understand people Suba. I have always been vocal when I witness any discrimination against me or anyone else. Instead of showing frustration, I used ‘patience’ and ‘calmness’ as a tool to educate and create awareness on how a simple ‘word’ or ‘deed’ can hurt someone very deeply. You know what, I have gained a lot of positivity and life-long friends due to my attitude.

Suba: Awesome attitude. God bless you, Pradha. How could keep up the patience and show ‘love’ towards those who hurt you?

Lakshmipradha: I must mention my family here Suba. My mom, especially….She had been a greater inspiration all throughout my life. We lost her this March. She inculcated ‘never give up’ attitude and ‘determination’ in me to pursue what I wanted. She always lifted me up and gave me confidence to look forward whenever I failed and fell down. My father seeded his positive attitude and supported me to pursue my dreams. My sibling always protected and encouraged me in all my endeavour. 

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With my friendly approach and happy attitude, I could gain hearts of many which includes my friends, teachers, colleagues and managers.

Suba: Tell me more about your Mom, Pradha.

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Lakshmipradha’s Mom’s Painting

Lakshmipradha: My mom is a beautiful soul, our guiding angel. She had greater passion for arts. I am working on creating a platform through which I can showcase her artwork to the world. Also, on her memory, I am exploring options where I can help the struggling artists sell their artworks. I have a facebook page & a group dedicated to her artwork. 

 

Suba: Oh, that’s wonderful to know. Tell me about what you are doing currently and your aspirations.

Lakshmipradha: I am a life-long learner first before putting any ‘adjectives’ along. Basically, I am a soft-spoken, compassionate person who always look forward to helping and supporting others. Intending to enhance the lives around, I am working along with the professionals and providing career guidance and mentoring. When I joined IT industry, I realized the importance of unlearning and re-learning. Such mind-mapping and habit forming helped me change my dialect, attitude and gained more confidence communicating with the teams & client and collaborate with the cross functions to achieve project goal.

I took a break from full time job to finish off the book that I was writing Suba, ‘Delicate Darlings’ – it is a collection of stories on the upbringing of children based on my and others experiences. The book will be published very soon. Now, I am fully geared up to utilize my capabilities as an ‘IT Consultant’ in the industry, started floating my resume and attending interviews. Hoping to get into the right role & organization that helps me to establish my expertise and capabilities further ahead. 

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Dr Lakshmipradha is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate Softskill Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Meet Varsha Savla: A Fashion Designer turned Entrepreneur, the amazing Journey behind Expressions by UV

Suba Lakshminarasimhan, SLN Brand Studio, Women Contentment Program, Varsha Savla
Suba Lakshminarasimhan interacts with Varsha Savla

Varsha Savla, Founder, UV creations, and a Creative Director & Fashion Designer in Expression by UV interacts with Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder Director, SLN Brand Studio.

UV Creations is a Design Studio that caters to the customized needs of styling for one and all. Expression by UV is the creative label of Varsha, which she has created after a lot of research as a designer. An act towards converting waste and developing sustainability model. More information on this below. More and more, Varsha’s love for fabrics is seen in all the products.

Suba: Varsha, glad to interact with you for #SLNNavathri’19 series. Thanks for your time. Tell us all about where and how you started?

Varsha: Indeed, a pleasure to be here Suba. Thanks for the inclusion. About my journey, I must say it is in Genes and, probably, a childhood passion that has taken a new shape now as UV creations. As I recall, adoring my mom and grand mom working on embroideries and building crafts with textile kindled a thought process behind my empire.

Varsha 9I studied fashion designing, had dreams of starting my own studio and joined as a head designer in an export firm in Mumbai. I thought of working in the industry for few years to gain the ‘right set’ of experience before starting anything on my own. Life was going as usual; as I was working hard to grow in the industry, life showed me a different struggle path. I got into bad marriage which left me an adorable son and a challenging life ahead. As a single parent, I had a humongous responsibility to take care of my son and my career growth.

Though I had tremendous support from my parents, I didn’t want my son to miss anything that he deserves. I was determined not to miss anything as a mom because of the change that occurred in my personal life. I took support from my father, with few thousands rupees investment, started UV creations. I started the engagement from home so that I could spend more time with my son.

That triumphant smile of Varsha indeed induced positive energy virtually.

Suba: That’s an extraordinary journey Varsha. I understand the ‘starting phase’ with considerable investment, balancing many things as a ‘solopreneur’ where every paisa counts.

Varsha: Complete agree here, Suba. Even though it was my passion, it was the need of the hour too when I started UV creations. People…..Suba, I met many wonderful people who helped to broaden my horizon and encouraged me to live my dream that I had since my college days. After experiencing various ups and downs as an Entrepreneur, I got registered as MSME with the help of Mawe, fortunate enough to attend its first International Meet.

That was ‘The Moment’ Suba. At the same time, the IIM’s Women Entrepreneur Program was also happening. I didn’t miss the opportunity and enrolled for the same. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, I rediscovered myself and my UV creations. I joined myself as a Mentee in ‘Cherry Blair Foundation’ where wonder mentors helped me to shape up the business.

Learning every day from different people, various experiences has become a habit now Suba.

Varsha gave a hearty laugh.

 

Suba: Wow…..I loved the way you create positivity where people in different ways helped you to grow. I often tell my audience that ‘seeking help is an art which needs better clarity than helping others.’ I am sure you have this skill and utilize it also well Varsha. I am thrilled.

Ok, tell us about the significant struggles you had to face to deliver your products and how did you overcome such struggles?

Varsha: Thank you, Suba.

I faced a lot of troubles in the initial days. The biggest challenge was to get the right set of workers and train them. I was very empathetic, however, when they leave without any prior notice, I used to feel so stressed about quality and on-time delivery. I am focusing on building the right mindset in my team and train them well from various perspective.

The second biggest challenge is the price. It is still challenging at times to create awareness about the price for the customized & designer products. Our products are customized and not like the ones we regularly see in the shopping malls. India is one of the wealthiest countries in textile and craft heritage, but awareness among Indian consumer is one area that needs special attention. Especially, sustainable brands face such challenges in Indian market.

Suba: I get to listen to these challenges from many Entrepreneurs in my network. I have observed that most of the solopreneurs and entrepreneurs in the sustainable market treat the workers well. Mindset change in the worker community is something to be addressed. I also agree on the awareness of ‘value’ the consumers are getting in India.

Varsha, what is your ‘dream come true’ moment in this Entrepreneurial Journey?

Varsha: Our ‘Satva’ collection’s presence in Milan Fashion Week is indeed an excellent Milestone for me as an Entrepreneur and, ‘dream come true’ moment as a fashion designer. We collaborated with Ashtiani by Golnaz and showcased our sustainable fashion designs during the fashion week from 21st to 30th September 2019.

Suba: Very proud to know this Varsha, tell us about your brand ‘Expression by UV.’ I happily observe and look at the wave your products are creating under this label. How did you conceptualize this?

Varsha: Thanks for asking this question, Suba. I wanted to celebrate Craft, Indian Weaves and the Skill of our artisans who struggle to make their daily life. Looking at the waste materials after completing our products got me thinking for hours together. It was painful to see the textile creating the already spoiled ‘landfill.’ Moreover, hazardous chemicals disposed by fast fashion industry is a significant concern as well.

 

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This glamorous fashion industry contributes a lot on the landfill which was troubling me a lot. This is how a thought process behind ‘Expressions by UV’ was born, and today we are proud to be a part of sustainable industry doing good to our mother earth and earn a lot of happy customers.

We adhere to nature friendly skills combing it with style, and a good supply chain to make positive impressions on each life it touches. UV creations is a Studio for women who are globe-trotters, decision-makers and confident enough to make conscious choices for themselves and the planet earth.

Suba: Awesome. This is one question I ask all my candidates. Many women struggle or sit in their comfort zone because of one challenge. Managing life & career. How did you create an eco-system that helps you to balance your personal and professional life Varsha?

Varsha: This is a crucial and essential question, Suba. I always believed in the right working conditions and treat my team as family members. I have built a loyal team who help me in challenging situation. However, you know that apparel industry is still an unorganized sector and, sometimes you get into wrong hands. So my new learning is that to always have a backup plan, so the work does not suffer.

At the personal level, I had made my child independent from early years. He takes care of his things when I am not at home. My parents and family take care of my son when I am travelling. Specifically my Mom, my backbone at the home front. I have created a support system to take care of my son’s education too. However, I never miss spending Quality hours together with him and with the whole family.

Suba: Really impressed with the way you have taken steps to create an eco-system ,Varsha. I am sure many women out there who are struggling will wake up now and take up the responsibility to develop a support system to balance personal and professional life.

If I ask you to give ‘one’ suggestion or an advice to women followers, what would that be Varsha?

Varsha: Let me share something from my personal life again, Suba. When I decided to part ways with my husband, and, when I started UV creations in a small way and, while growing…..In all the stages, and, every day, I had/have people giving me good suggestions, showing sympathy, or, questioning my actions and talking ill on my back.

You know what, without judging anyone, I listen to everyone and everything. It was not at all an easy thing to do, but I was determined to have this as a habit. That is how I learnt how to filter information, take out the best and use it for growth. The information stayed in my filter went away, and I never gave a damn about it.

Believe in yourself and your ability. ‘Single mom’, ‘Amicable daughter-in-law’ ‘well-behaved daughter’ or any similar branding should never be the barrier for you to grow. But, create a right network, support system to start, survive and succeed which is very important. – Varsha Savla, UV Creations, Expressions by UV

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Varsha Savla is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate Softskill Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

Successful Women Entrepreneurs

A Journey of Neha Tripathi, from a Corporate Employee to a Host of ‘Neha Tripathi Talk show’: Online Platform that Shares Extensive Knowledge and Builds Employability Skills

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Suba Lakshminarasimhan interacting with Neha Tripathi

Neha Tripathi, the Founder and Host of ‘Neha Tripathi Talk Show’ interacted with Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder Director of SLN Brand Studio. The talk show focuses on sharing knowledge to the world by interacting with the Experts and SMEs across domains through an online platform.

Neha is an Employability Mentor and has specialized to Coach Women on a Career Break. She is a Professional Speaker, loves to travel and explore the unsaid stories of Entrepreneurs.

Suba: Thanks for your time, Neha. Tell our audience all about how you started the talk show and triggering moments of your life.

Neha: Thank you, Suba, for having me as a part of ‘Word of Wisdom’ series. The journey has been exciting. After a decade of corporate experience, I felt the need to do more to the community. Amidst shining well and growing amidst challenges, there was a ‘feeling of missing something’ that triggered me to think more towards starting something on my own.

Neha 3I had a pool of questions, and I was literally lost in the start-up city with my idea of how to start. I networked massively and searched for answers, but it took me a lot of time and costed me beyond my expectations. Moreover, I didn’t have any business background, struggled a lot to learn the intricacies of building a business. Such struggles, learning from experiences made me decide that I could do a lot to the Entrepreneurs and launched ‘Neha Tripathi Talk Show.’ Our Vision here is to share all kinds of experience and expertise with the audience.

Initially, we launched the platform for women, but eventually we felt the need for men since a lot of interest was coming on our way from them as well. Hence we opened up the forum for everyone.

“Neha Tripathi Talk Show – A platform to learn, share and speak your heart out!!”

A smile from Neha indeed triggered a happy moment here. A sense of satisfaction.

Suba: That is quite a journey Neha. Conceptualisation is one thing, but Execution is where more challenges pop up, right? How did you push the boundaries and build this empire?

Neha: Rightly said, Suba. Taking that first step is a challenge. When we know how to proceed, rest becomes a part of it and can definitely be figured out. Few personal traits I must share here. I had always been a consistent and hard worker; all I needed was the right guidance which I received gradually. I understood that I needed to have a Mentor who can guide me to define my vision and then, the execution. It took me 6-8 months to find my first mentor. It all happened accidentally but thanks to social media where we can connect and nurture the network for ourselves. 

Next big challenge to me was the location. I had recently relocated to Bangalore, the start-up city and I hardly knew anyone. For the initial 6 months, I entirely focused on networking massively. Initially, I used to attend all the networking events, gradually, learnt how to choose the right event and build network consciously.

Suba: Hah….I can very well understand Neha. Getting such clarity and defining strategies for each trait is indeed the beauty of Entrepreneurship. Now, tell me, when it comes to your personality, any trait of yours, you had to change for survival?

Neha: Haha, not one, many Indeed….Let me list them out.

  1. I used to feel that my networking skills were exceptional, gradually identified a lot of areas that needed fine-tuning.
  2. I have always been a vivid reader all through my life, would pick any book/blog/article that anyone suggested. I realised that I was killing a lot of my productive time by doing so. I started to consciously pick the materials that I needed to learn at said moments.
  3. Emotional Management, still working on building a thick skin. I am sure you can understand what I mean.
  4. Invested huge in my learning process which I never did in my decade of corporate experience.

Neha and Suba had a good laugh as both could relate to many things from the list.

Suba: That’s quite an impressive list Neha. I can relate a lot here. What I observe is that not only you identified the weaknesses, rather areas of improvement, but also worked on them in the right way. And, yes, investing right for the continuous growth where I see a lot women hesitate to do. Happy to know that you have been investing right and reaping fruits as well.

I have an important question here. How did you build a support system to manage your personal & professional life?

Neha: Let me be honest here, Suba. I did not have to work on that at all. I am blessed to have a supportive family. My father always pushes me to aspire more in life, my in-laws love and care for me like their daughter.

The most important part of my life is my life partner. He has never ever questioned once during my entrepreneurial journey. Most of my weekends, I would be in meetings, attending events/ conference, reaching home late, skip cooking (mostly due to work and at times my lack of interest into it) but never ever I had to worry about it. When I enter home, my partner would be ready with the meal and a glass of water for me.

My family has supported in many others ways here Suba. Books especially gifted by my Father, younger sister, life partner make a great difference in my thought processes as well.

Again, I must mention my mentors like Jogesh Jain and Neeraja Ganesh and my virtual mentors like Vishen Lakhiani, YourStory Shradha Sharma who make a great difference in my way of working. I plan well to balance life and business. Suba, even though I have mentioned few names, when it comes to mentors, I have a long list, can’t cover everyone here.

Neha continued after a deep thought…..

Suba, I have learned a lot from many others too. Not only about what I should do, also what I should not do. I also observe and ensure not doing certain mistakes others do in the process of building a business.

Eventually, I became more of a silent observer which is truly contradictory to what I do on my Neha Tripathi Talk Show.

Neha gave a beautiful smile here which felt so satisfactory.

Suba: That’s great to know Neha. Family support is critical for both men and women to succeed in whatever they want to choose. What would be your suggestion for women who lack family support? One thing that you want to share with the Women Aspirants out there?

Neha: Ladies, please stop playing the victim cards. If you aspire to do something in life, it is your responsibility to make it happen. If you do not do it, understand that the purpose is not strong enough that could push you to convert that dream into reality. You need to thrive right to build a support system. 

When you see no support from your eco-system, it is time to change your communication. No one ever saw your vision, and that is the sole reason they do not understand it – Neha Tripathi

That’s one impressive finish to the conversation Suba, our Founder had with Neha Tripathi.

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Neha Tripathi is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate Softskill Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

SLN Brand Studio, Women Contentment Program,
Beyond Business, Mompreneurs, Passionpreneur, Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Continuous Growth – Janani Uppiliappan, the enthusiastic educator shares her secret with SLN Brand Studio

Janani Uppiliappan is a passionate educator, founder of Sai Vruksha Academy. Started with 10 students in 2014 to teach creative writing, Janani is now running numerous batches training phonics, creative writing, and grammar and enhancing the lives of numerous students. She has been teaching Phonics, Hand-writing, Creative Writing that enrich the vocabulary, writing and speaking the English language skill among students.

“Beyond core skills, the parents are happy seeing the improved self-confidence, discipline and habit forming in children.” Janani mentions proudly. 

Storytelling being her core strength, the students adore their ‘favourite mam’ and rush to attend her classes. Janani is thriving to take the fear, stress and anxiety associated with learning English through her fun and creative methodologies.

SLN Brand Studio, Women Contentment Program,
Janani Uppiliappan, Sai Vruksha Academy

Happy children……happier parents……the most delighted teacher.

“Continuous learning is the reason I continue to grow in what I do and deliver the best,” Janani says with a smile.

Suba Lakshminarasimhan, the founder of SLN Brand Studio, spoke to Janani Uppiliappan and shares the key learning from the journey of Sai Vruksha.

Read ahead…..

Suba: Janani, What are all the educational credentials you have related to your current job?

Janani: As the Founder of Sai Vruksha Academy, I am currently educating children of 4 to 13 yrs age group on Phonics, Creative Writing, Hand writing. Basically the children are equipped with speaking and writing in English very well like a champion. I am a certified trainer on Phonology from the American Tesol Institute. I also had accomplished Jolly Phonics, and Jolly grammar certification and ISO certified handwriting and speed writing coach.

A recent addition is a Certification on Story Telling by Eric Miller, the Director World Story Telling Institute.

Janani with kids
Sai Vruksha Academy

Suba: How do you choose the courses & institutes in this Journey to study further?

Janani: (with a proud smile) Born in the family of teachers & headmasters, I had identified a flair towards teaching since my childhood. Becoming a teacher when I decided to re-start my career was a conscious decision that I took. To comply with the modern day requirements and my passion for teaching the kids the essential skills, I started with the Phonology certification course from The American Tesol Institute.

As I continue to identify various needs in children, I equipped myself with further education. Beyond a mere certification, I am always keen on learning from the right places and experts, I chose the institutes very carefully.

Story telling workshop Chennai
Story Telling Training – Eric Miller

I want all my students to get the best from the global educational systems and methodologies, I happily invest on my continuous education.

Notably, the recent addition in my repository is the certification on ‘Story Telling’ by Eric Miller. Attending the workshop itself was a lifetime experience. Beyond the core skills, I learnt hugely from the Master himself.

I spend quality time researching for the right training & educational institutions to deliver the best for my students.

Suba: Janani, Tell me about the investments you have made on personal growth strategies

Janani continued with a keen interest.

Janani: Yes, I have invested huge in terms of time, effort and money. Managing the classes, family and studying, time was in fact predominantly a demanding element for me. The best part here is the strategies I developed to manage career and family. I am sure you would agree with me, without investment in personal development, it would be very tough to grow in any career, right?

Suba agreed with a nod and continued with the subsequent question.

Story Telling by Janani Uppiliappan
Story telling by Janani in Chennai

Suba: How frequently you plan to do courses for continuously growing?

Janani: I am in touch with my industry, user base through the process of continuous learning. I have developed my continuous learning process into two categories. One is day to day learning which is happening on the job. I learn huge every time I come with the new set of worksheets, new fun formula to teach my kids. The second category is learning from the masters, industry experts by attending workshops or training programs, which varies based on the skill I want to build.

Suba: Specific guidance you want to give our viewers related to ‘growth and continuous learning.’

Janani: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” – Anthony J. D.Anglo

Teachers play a huge role in developing the society and responsible community. English language and communication skill make a great difference in the way professionals grow. It is important to focus on improving the language skill in children from the early years  – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder Director, SLN Brand Studio

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Janani Uppiliappan is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate Softskill Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

Beyond Business

Ramanan, IT professional turned Environmentalist, a perfect Role Model for Empathy induced Altruism

“My ‘work-life’ started during my college days itself Suba. Looking back, beyond my educational credentials, I have acquired numerous skills through hands-on experience. Even my entrepreneurial journey is the same as well.”

I straightened myself to listen keenly as Ramanan started talking in a measured tone.

Ramanan Image
Ramanan, Shudh-Labh

Ramanan is the founder director of Shudh-labh, the fast-growing waste management organisation based in Bangalore, India. The entity aims at decentralising – sorting, collecting and recycling – all types of domestic waste. As the name suggests, the overall goal is to implement innovative recycle options for increasing profit. Thereby, up-cycling dry waste and enhancing the value recovery from waste. Aerobic Digester is their product that recovers the resource by composting the food waste.  

While doing my bachelors in Physics, I also got an opportunity to join the first batch of NIIT in Chennai where I acquired knowledge on software development. I was working in my father’s factory at the same time. After my NIIT course, my life took different turns. As a part of the Software Industry, I travelled across India, Singapore, and the USA. When I landed in Bangalore in 2004, joined a software firm and worked for three years. However, the thirst towards Entrepreneurship flaming up every minute, started a Training & Consulting firm focusing on Project Management/PMO certification.”

Ramanan took a pause here. I realised that he was introspecting and virtually gone back to 2007. I didn’t want to disturb the flow of thoughts and let the silence continue.

 “I tasted the reality behind Entrepreneurship during that period. It was not easy for me to come out comfort zone where I needed to ‘sell a Service.’ Discussing even with my friends and contacts about my company was highly challenging. I also realised the importance of pushing oneself harder, continuously learn, thrive on sustaining and succeeding during that period. Talking about that experience itself look so different now.” Ramanan chuckled and continued “In fact, I wouldn’t call it as ‘Entrepreneurship’ now.”

I looked at him quizzically.

Ramanan continued, “I understand what you want to ask Suba? Everything changed when we started Shudh-Labh. One beautiful morning changed my life drastically. It was, in fact, a normal Bangalore day as I was sipping my morning coffee looking outside from my veranda. A pile of waste on the street and a stink emanating from it, I just turned around and came inside. Sanitary workers were collecting and transporting into a vehicle. It was heartening to see them using bare hands to manage the waste struck me really hard.

Further learning on waste management and a discussion with some experts led me to understand the impact such landfill has been creating on our mother earth. Further R&D and embracing technology as the right solution we found Shudh-Labh,”

“That’s quite an exciting start of this journey Ramanan. In a new business and a market, How did you handle the transition as a leader here? 

“Yes, exactly. My earlier entrepreneurial journey taught many lessons by biting me financially and emotionally. But the passion, excitement was totally different this time. Responsibility and accountability somehow excited me instead of scaring. However, I was conscious that mere passion or enthusiasm is not enough to keep it going. This is a high scale initiative, I spent quality time in planning and executing.

Most importantly, my family is my great support system, Suba. If not my wife and daughter, I don’t see a possibility of Shudh-labh in my life. Their constant backing is the primary force here. You will be surprised to know Suba, we are running our family expenses solely on my wife’s salary for the past four years. I have invested all our savings in the business. Our extended family and friends have funded as well. As we are growing now, we are working on getting external funding as well.”

“You know what pushes me ahead amidst challenges…..even so-called educated people do not want to pay for managing their waste effectively but willing to dump it in landfills – a sorry state of affairs and depressing at times. Creating awareness in this space continuously is a task I have taken voluntarily, and, seriously.”

“Can you brief about the product – Aerobic digester?” I asked.

“Yes, definitely.  Food waste comes under ‘Wet Waste’ category where the kitchen waste, vegetable peels, leaves and related ingredients are wet. When the air is used to process this food waste, we get ‘organic compost’ as a final product. This organic compost improves crop yields, reduces the carbon footprints without using any chemical substances. Using air, the Aerobic Digester helps in locking the carbon in the soil, convert the waste into reusable resource as organic compost.”

“Very thoughtful Indeed Ramanan. Now, tell me about your first client acquisition. Any Entrepreneur including me would agree that ‘getting the first customer’ as the toughest of many challenges. How did you convince the buyer to purchase your product?” I asked.

“Oh yes, that’s where my relationship building strength helped. I can connect with people very well. Moreover, Aerobic Digester is a product of many brains and hard work of people who are passionate about Environment. We are a bunch of people who are conscious of leaving greener earth to our future generation. Every household has someone suffering from serious health conditions like cancer, cardiac issues and many modern-day illnesses. People including you and me, knowingly or unknowingly, have already polluted our land and air; we are breathing and eating wrong things. It is hugely our responsibility now to correct it. We, from a business point of view, focused on creating awareness and showcasing the value proposition.”

“We are ever thankful to Sovereign Park in Basavanagudi who believed in Aerobic Digester and us. Later, the product and our continued support in handling the initial hiccups to day-to-day functions spoke on behalf of us. The association members have become our brand ambassadors. Our unique design in the Aerobic Digester now become the defacto standard across Bangalore and Chennai. Compared to our competitors, our design has gained huge acceptance in the market due to its ability to addressing numerous issues related to waste management. Our composters have one of the lowest Opex and Capex, and easy to use process create a competitive edge here. We take complete accountability on the site and, beyond a mere product company, we work as partners with our clients.”

“That’s encouraging information for the budding Entrepreneurs. Appropriate planning, value proposition and customer experience can help to break many barriers.”

I paused and got myself ready to ask the most critical question.

When it comes to running a business, that too, bootstrapped, managing finance is a more significant challenge, right? Since you are scaling up, is there any other major challenge that you face now?” I could sense the concern and curiosity raising in me as well.

Ramanan continued thoughtfully, “Yes, Funds are a greater challenge. We are cutting a big fat now. We are also working on getting the right people and skills on board which is posing a huge challenge. Those who seem to be passionate and interested do not show any inclination when it comes to really play the game. Not only Shudh-Labh, but many waste management start-ups also face skill scarcity. People struggle to make the decisions to join hands here.

We look forward to onboard more talents.”

“I understand and see a considerable gap in creating awareness about the opportunities available in the waste management Industry. Hope and wish things change for good and make our earth greener.

Now, tell me. If I ask you about one personality change you had to implement in ‘yourself’ to sustain and succeed as an Entrepreneur, what will be your answer?” I posted a question and got myself ready to listen to the answer.

Ramanan continued with a confident smile, “Oh, yes, the attribute seems as strength might pose a threat at times. I was a bit on the ‘Naive’ side when it comes to managing People. I have always been Empathetic and try my best to help others to grow. But, I realised that this attitude could work against the growth of my company. Beyond extending support, motivating and training, some people cannot change or perform as expected due to various reasons. ‘Letting them go’ still gives me a nightmare. However, I am changing, and I could see how such decisions help the company to grow. Every day becomes beautiful with such learning and consistent implementation of actions” The determination in his words showcased a more robust transmission that had happened from within.

Your ‘Single’ advice for the upcoming Entrepreneurs/Millennial/Corporate Sanyasis?

Perseverance and passion, but with a stable & practical action plan backed by data, is critical for success.

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Mr. Ramanan Natarajan is an initiative for bringing gems out to the limelight as a part of ‘Beyond Business’ series from SLN Brand Studio.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

“Breaking inner glass-ceiling is the continuous process for human to grow” – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio

Mompreneurs, Passionpreneur, Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Vijayalakshmi Prakaash, Hobby Clusters: The Passionpreneur Changing the Lives of Classical Art Aspirants

“Entrepreneurship has been there in my thoughts since my childhood. However, life took me on a different route. After completing MBA in HRM, I got wonderful opportunities to work as the HR professional in the leading MNCs like ‘Accenture.’

Yet, the feeling of ‘missing something’ always lingering in my mind, one beautiful day, I took the plunge. I chose to do something which is very close to my heart. Yes, as a passionate Bharatanatyam dancer, I decided to start my journey in the field of the classical art form. The first thing that I did was quitting my day job.”

Vijayalakshmi Hobby Clusters1
Suba Lakshminarasimhan, SLN Brand Studio Interviewing Vijayalakshmi, Hobby Clusters

The words from Vijayalakshmi with such calmness and measured tone amazed me. The interaction with her began when I joined ‘Kathak’ in Hobby Clusters; all fresher learners. Within 3 months, our team of enthusiastic dancers got an opportunity to perform on stage as a part of Hobby Cluster’s annual program two months back. That is when I met Vijayalakshmi for the first time. I was infact stunned to see her carrying a small baby in hand. Yes, a new mom organizing such a grand event collaborating with numerous teachers and students, I was genuinely impressed.

We met another day again at my place for this interview.

“Tell me more about your Journey Vijayalakshmi,” I prepared myself to learn more.

“Everything started with Dance Suba. My mother & my first guru, Smt. Thangam Srinivasan is the great inspiration in my life. She is a singer and a dancer who got an opportunity to learn from the esteemed Guru Paramparas; She learnt music from Smt. Neela Ramamurthy, the daughter of Papanasam Sivan and dance from the descendants of Vazhuvuraar.

Later, I learned the intricacies and sharpened my dancing skill from the renowned Guru Shri. Narayanan. I am one blessed person to have had my Arangetram at the famous Nataraja Swamy Temple in Chidambaram when I was 14 years old.”

She paused and went into deep thought; I felt as if I was standing in Chidambaram temple watching her performance.

I never stopped learning; beyond winning or losing the competitions, I focused on in-depth learning, assiduous practicing, and completed graduation in Bharatanatyam as well. When I wanted to take up an Entrepreneur journey, my gurus only flashed in my thoughts. Whatever I am today is because of each one of them, their timely guidance and passion.

It is imperative that the ambitious students get the right guru for accomplishing their aspirations. Moreover, I have always cherished moments working with kids. With a vision to connect the students with the right teachers, founded Hobby Clusters in 2012.”

“Fascinating journey indeed Vijayalakshmi. That must be one brave decision to leave the full-time job, right?” I asked.

“Yes Suba, it definitely was a hard decision. Financial independence is significant to me. When you start to do something, it may take a while before you see any money in return. However, I was very confident about my passion, ability and, as I told you earlier, I have always been thirsty about continuous learning.

The most important aspect in Entrepreneurship is ‘the investment.’ I had two investment choices; one is to invest money, build an entity by hiring people to support me. The second option is to dedicate and invest ‘time,’ learn and do things without any hesitation. I chose the second path.”

I let her pause for few seconds without interfering her thoughts. Listening without filling the silence moments is one skill I acquired in recent times as I interact more nowadays.

Vijayalakshmi continued with a warm smile, “I defined my strategy first. Introducing the syllabus-based quality teaching where the students become the qualified performers is my mission. I started connecting with the aspiring students. Establishing the connection with the students’ & parents and gaining their faith was very challenging initially. I spent my time getting to know more about the market, students and their exact requirements.

Similarly, I spent quality hours searching for the talented teachers who can match with the student’ requirements. All these teachers and the students are the pillars and the reason behind where we are today. Now I have amazing teachers for vocal Carnatic & Hindustani, Music Instruments, Various classical dance forms, and sports who are spread all over Bangalore. I am very proud to say that we will soon be UNESCO certified too.”

Vijayalakshmi Hobby Clusters2
Hobby Cluster’s Annual Day 2018 at MLR Convention Hall, Bangalore

“That’s fantastic. Congratulations Vijayalakshmi.” I was equally pleased, continued my questioning, “What kind of challenges you are facing nowadays? How do you manage such challenges?” 

“When this digitized world is moving fast, people expecting quick results without realizing the importance of learning the basics well is posing a lot of challenges for us the teachers. I work closely with the parents and make them understand the intricacies the students must learn. Fortunately, many parents are very cooperative, they know the importance of time one must give for the learning curve and hours one must dedicate for the practice.

And, personally, as you know, my daughter is 5 months old. There is learning every day. She is my priority. I must mention here about the support I get from my husband. Prakaash extends his support and backing in all possible ways; right from taking care of the baby completely when I am working. My ‘go to’ person whenever I am facing challenges in the business.

When it comes to my capability to manage challenges, I must give credit to my ability to organize my time appropriately and balance things well so far. Spending more time in planning helps in executing things well.”

“Do you have anything specific to share with the fellow Women Aspirants who are struggling to manage family and work?”

Focus and priority are the two sides of the coin. If you look at people struggling to balance life, both their focus and priority is work. Then starts the ‘guilt trip’ leading to living life where there is no ‘contentment.’

Keep the primary focus on the family, prioritize activities based on the situation. Set a goal that benefits your long-term growth, and learn how to manage your time well. Little compromises here and there will help in balancing work and family well. Infact, not only women, this can apply to men too.

Isn’t life all about ‘Give’ and ‘Take’?

It was one satisfying interaction as I wished Vijayalakshmi and Hobby Clusters team!

“Living ‘just’ a life or Celebrating Life amidst ‘odds’; Choice is yours” – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Vijayalakshmi Prakaash is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.

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