Name: Kavita Jain
Company name: Needle Doodle
Company URL: https://www.facebook.com/NeedleDoodle/
“If you find a door closed, open all the windows and nothing can stop you. Just by walking an extra mile, you will find yourself where you want to be.” That is Kavita Jain’s philosophy in life. Every journey has its own obstacles, the “Needle Doodle lady” tells Stars of Startups.
How is being a woman entrepreneur more relevant today?
Women’s Day is a celebration of womanhood, celebration of the spirit women represent. Today, women share more and more responsibilities and the government and society is taking steps to eliminate the differential, whatsoever that may exist. The government has announced women friendly policies and is promoting enterprise. Being a woman and an entrepreneur is therefore the most promising manner of contributing to the society. Today, in my mind, is more relevant than ever before, to contribute to the development of the country, towards the society, towards the household and most importantly, towards individual gratification.
How did your journey as an entrepreneur start? Do give a brief about your company.
It all started with a never satiating dream to create something of my own, something that holds me alive within and something of my imagination. It was just a dream until I commenced to paint my expressions, a world of my own where I play with the colors of emotions.
It has been a long journey and it started after I was blessed with lovely twins. I quit my job and my kids kept me occupied for almost three years. I felt lost during that period, felt that my dreams hold no further avenue. Despite all these negative thoughts, I resolved to walk an extra mile to achieve my dreams. I bought my first Janome machine without having a specific goal or plans of going into business. Making little merchandise earned me appreciation and I took a small step with a relatively insignificant investment of Rs 27,000.
During my journey as a mother, I managed to retain my creativity and my passion and in November 2012 I started “NEEDLE DOODLE”.
A lot of credit for me becoming an entrepreneur goes to my twins. I stayed at home for them, which encouraged me to start something of my own. The business name is also inspired by this activity of doodling with pencil or crayon. And this is how we go on, sharing ideas and working together. We work together, they stay amused with the sewing accessories and I delight in my passion. Today they encourage me, offer me ideas and are brand ambassadors of my range of bags and accessories for kids.
My company Needle Doodle is currently based out of Bangalore and is an online platform which offers innovative handmade creations from fabric. The aim of the business is to create utility and stylish bags which are environment friendly and encourages customer to move away from leather. Needle Doodle bags are available under the label “Addiction”; “Add-Blends”, “Add-Ons”.
The business is mainly online and targets few exclusive exhibitions every year. In three years my work has been appreciated in over 38 countries and I have so far designed more than 150 bags. I have been featured in various newspapers, magazines, blogs and online platform in India, UK and the US.
What challenges have you faced in this journey?
I hail from a small town in Eastern India, close to Guwahati, Assam. My creative instinct and persuasion took me to South India to pursue Fashion Designing and Clothing Technology course at NIFT. However, even after the course, life was still very uncertain, given the social pressure to return to hometown. Back in 2000, charting independent growth remained a significant challenge for a small town girl. All that I could manage is to work within the stated parameters of time, geography, social network and scale.
After marriage, the geographic location changed – it was London now.
God has gifted women the greatest ability – the ability to create a new life. However, along with this gift, He has also put restrictions on the amount of physical activity a woman can perform. Furthermore, the society entrusts responsibility to raise children on women. This took many years away. Even till date, primary responsibility of raising children, including their education remains with her.
Unplanned / unscheduled working from home is more arduous than office schedule. However, I have no regrets as I am able to distribute my time between kids and my passion alike. I work late nights to meet clients’ requirements or new designs. However, I feel excited to be earning appreciation and travel globally through my creations. To me “Happiness is handmade”.
Further, lack of social support, lack of enterprise culture and lack of economic freedom restricted me from thinking big. I have little freedom to work from an office or on strict schedules. I need to maintain flexibility in all aspects of her working culture.
To whom will you give credit for your success?
Significant credit goes to my kids. Because of them I stay at home, which encouraged me to start something of my own. My husband and parents are the other pillars of my life – they help a lot by looking after the kids when I am busy meeting deadlines.
What do you think are your strengths?
My willingness and passion to do something despite short odds is, I think, my biggest strength. The appreciation I get from my clients keeps me motivated and becomes my strength as well.
What is your support system and source of inspiration?
My family (which understands my passion and allows me to work towards fulfilling my dream), and my team are my support system. They willingly support me in whatever area I seek to work. My source of inspiration is anything lively, energetic. Anything that brings a smile, confidence or infuses positive vibes inspires me. My intention is to offer innovative creations in fabric for a simple and elegant lifestyle. My bags are theme based, with a story to tell, using natural materials, encouraging green resources.
If you were to mentor or guide women-led startups, what would your top three advices be?
- The first thing is to take small steps towards fulfilling your dream. Always be patient, don’t be in a hurry. Set small business goals, which are easy to achieve and give confidence to take bigger risks.
- We have to “walk an extra mile” to reach our goal. Nothing comes easy.
- Time management and a to-do list is a must to accomplish day’s goal. Market understanding and good communication is the most important to reach target customer.
What is that one change you suggest that will make women entrepreneurship blossom in this country?
Every journey has its own obstacles and lessons. For some it is a one-step journey and for others it stretches to miles. But in the end, it doesn’t matter as long as one can find joy in not just finishing the activity, but in doing it!
Keep going, deep doing, you are going to be great !
How do you measure success? Is it different for men and women?
To me success is can’t be always measured in terms of money or position. It is a measure of many accomplishment — the obstacles we overcome to reach our goals. It is the difference that we make in people’s lives, the confidence that we gain, the recognition we earn through our work. OF course money also holds a bigger grip.
I don’t think it is same or different for people. It all depends on how one measures their own count.
Would you like to share a funny or memorable anecdote that was due to gender bias or happened because you were a women?
It happed when I joined Janome in Milton Keynes, UK. My name was mentioned as K Jain in the joining form and the memo to colleagues. The day I joined, everyone stared at me as if I were not what they expected. Male colleagues had an elaborate plan to welcome their new drink buddy and the first Indian in the team. During lunch break women colleagues took me out for lunch and they explained the whole incident to me. We all had a good laugh.