Academics- Escape and Elixir
We were a happy family – my parents, brother and I. Raised in a small town in Uttar Pradesh, we always saw our house buzzing with friends and relatives. My father was an agriculturalist and I loved how he was his own boss, at home and in his farm. My childhood was a treasure chest of happy memories until I lost my brother when he was just 16. The home which was once my happy place, no longer remained the same after he passed away. Every corner reminded me of him. Unable to cope with the trauma, I decided to leave the town and finish my education from Banasthali Vidyapith – a University in Rajasthan. My parents, especially my father, supported me in my decision.
After completing graduation, I wanted to
pursue Masters from Mumbai. The college had only 10 vacancies and in the
selection process, the final round was an interview. Just ten minutes before
the interview, my kurta was torn from the side, long enough to be visible to
everyone. I had no time to go back and change. Hence, the nervousness was
evident from my face. The HOD sensed it and told me that I was there to talk
about myself and not about my clothes. Situations will often distract us but no
matter what happens, we should focus on our goals. Her words gave me the
courage to face the interview and guess what, I was selected!
My academic experience nurtured the first thought of entrepreneurship in me. As a graduate in textiles, I wanted to launch a line of clothing but the thought didn’t materialize.
After MSc, I did MBA in textile from Coimbatore. Overcoming the barriers of language and location, my experiences taught me how to adapt to different conditions. Thus, marriage with an Army Officer and adapting to an entirely new environment happened seamlessly. Tushar was the first boy I met as a marriage prospect and I had to look no further. I embraced the role and responsibilities of an officer’s wife and joined him in Pune. Meanwhile at the work front, I gained experience in academics as well as the corporate world.
Interactions with students was always such a delight! They told me about everything that was trending in our field. I was gradually drawn to being an academician, relishing every moment of it. The thought of business was brushed aside.
Transfers, Emotional Setbacks, And much more
Shortly before Tushar’s transfer to Ferozepur, I suffered a miscarriage. It was a huge emotional setback. Trying to overcome it, I moved with him and began teaching at a college in Ferozepur. I loved the place and the people. They helped me heal emotionally but I also wanted to take the next step in my career. I wanted to go back to Banasthali Vidyapith as a Research Associate. My application was accepted and before I could take the leap, I had a second miscarriage. Vulnerable with anguish, I insisted on going to my alma mater and buried myself in work.
After 1.5 years, when Tushar got posted to
Siliguri, I joined him again. And this time, I felt a world of difference to be
back with him. We were married for 4 years and both of us had matured through
our phases of grief. We also had his parents living with us then and with all
the love and support that I received, I realized how I had missed living with
family all this while. It was a beautiful phase when again, I lost my twins to
miscarriage. How I had weaved stories around them and their childhood! My
dreams were shattered. Three miscarriages in a few years were deeply disturbing but with unrelenting support from my immediate and extended
family, I could overcome the trauma. I tried to
convince myself that this is not the end of my world. I engaged myself in professional
pursuits and finished my thesis on Online Apparel business.
In 2013, we were posted to a unit in Jalandhar. After a few months, I realized that I had conceived again. This time, I didn’t want to dream only to be shaken up by a nightmare. I feared planning anything. It was a difficult pregnancy but my child made it to this world. I was blessed with a daughter. With her, everything changed in our lives. She brought so much happiness!
The ’Turning Point’
Though I worked in an academic institution in Jalandhar, the projects I handled rekindled the idea of business in me. I simply didn’t know where to invest my heart and soul, besides the resources. It was Tushar’s posting to Jaipur where I got the perfect idea for my venture!
Our tenure in Jaipur commenced with a nationwide lockdown. Once it was lifted, I applied for work in various colleges. With limited opportunity in my field, it became the perfect time to start something of my own. One day while I was exploring the markets of Jaipur, I was fascinated with narrow by-lanes dazzling with precious stones and silver. I always had a fine taste in jewelry but it never occurred to me that creating them could be my calling too! With no experience and expertise in jewelry designing, I began researching an entirely different field. After countless videos and sleepless nights, I designed a few pieces. Then began my search for artisans who could bring my designs to life, and that took me to nook and corners of the Pink City. After much labor, when I held the first finished piece of ornament in my hand, I was on cloud 9!
That’s how ‘Oriki’ was born, with a promise of purity and quality to its patrons.
Lessons of Life
There are two things I’ve learnt –
Firstly, comparison isn’t such a bad thing after all! Contrary to popular belief, it has helped me understand different situations and made me humble. It made me measure my growth through one life altering event to another, and appreciate the journey I’ve had so far.
Secondly, to ‘never stop dreaming’. All my failures propelled me into possibilities of success. Every time I was knocked down by an unfortunate event, I had to find ways to walk through it. It started as a conscious choice that turned into a habit – moving on, no matter what. And while dreaming is important, turning them into reality is imperative.
For a larger part of my life, I’ve traveled through many cities for education and work to survive daunting conditions. And I could do this only because my family had my back. My husband, his parents and mine, have together helped me sail through difficult times. Over the years, my father-in-law has become my greatest advisor and I discuss everything with him. Today, they are my cheerleaders and assist me in my venture in every way possible. Without them, I couldn’t have realized my dream. The road to entrepreneurship isn’t easy and their support is my biggest strength.
Freedom of Choice
Like my father, I always wanted to be my own boss. However, with every step I realized the amount of discipline one needs to start something of their own and then keep it going. To have people trust you for your work and product is an achievement! It was my freedom of choice to traverse different roads that brought me here. Every experience, good or bad, is a milestone that has helped me create my life today.
I want to say it to every woman out there – if you want to do something, take the first step. Don’t hesitate. Give yourself the freedom to make choices and follow your heart. No matter what life throws at you, turn it into an opportunity. Wise people have said ‘the world is our Oyster.’ And trust me, they’re right!