“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.”
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.”
“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 Prakash 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 training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal branding and career growth opportunities for working professionals, Students and Women with a Career Break, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions such as SPBQ, SVEP and SWCP.