Name: Tanushree Nair
Company name: Karaashilp Creations Pvt Ltd
Company URL: www.karaashilp.com
Designation: Creative Designer/Director
On this Women’s Day, how is being a woman entrepreneur relevant more than ever?
Honestly, I don’t believe in such ‘days’. I feel an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur no matter man or woman. Yes but as a woman we do have to overcome some more challenges — some internal to us and some external. I am glad to see more and more women coming to the fore by overcoming such limitations, challenges and embracing entrepreneurship. Every Woman’s Day is motivating as I get to know more such inspiring women who made are making it big.
How did your journey as an entrepreneur start? Do tell in brief about your company.
It all started four years back after I quit from my comfortable IT job of around 10 years. I have always been passionate about hand-crafting and upcycling (reuse). While I was contemplating on what to do next, I had taken up learning to sew on my own as I always pursued crocheting, knitting as my hobby. While experimenting, I worked on reusing my husband’s old used denims and converted them into a bag. That’s when it hit me, that denims as a material is not reused much and we hang on to it even when we grow out of it. That gave me my business idea to bring my twin passions in these products. We accept donated denims in usable form and offer a discount to buy from our Eco range of products.
Karaashilp (meaning handcraft in Sanskrit) started off as an Eco-friendly Endeavour. Today, I have two ranges — Eco and Premium. I design products in bags, home décor and personal accessories. We also help design custom/corporate gifting range.
What challenges have you faced in this journey?
I guess everything in the first two years was a challenge since I do not come from a design background. Right from understanding how to model it into a business to getting suppliers, vendors, purchasing raw material, marketing, branding, social media and scaling up, it was overwhelming for one person to do it all. But then I decided to take baby steps. Groups like HEN India helped a lot by giving support and networking. I learnt a lot about sales, legalities of setting up business by attending seminars in IIMB and similar women-focused groups.
To whom will you give credit for your success?
The entire credit goes to my family. My husband, for believing in the path that I was taking, and my son for being cooperative though he was very young when I started off. Our parents were equally supportive.
What do you think are your strengths?
“When things get tough, the tough get going”, that has been the motto of my life. I consider my willingness to learn, willpower and determination to get things done as my greatest strengths.
What is your support system and source of inspiration?
My family is my support system plus I am lucky to have really loving and loyal friends who chip in to help me whenever I need help, at home or in business. Everything around me is a source of inspiration. I want the products to be an extension of ‘US’. Hence I take inspiration from people I observe, things, nature around me. I am greatly inspired by the folk artisans of India. They have amazing deftness, finishing and skills passed on from generations.
If you were to mentor or guide women-led startups, what would your top three suggestions be?
I am still learning the ropes, so I won’t advice. But will like to suggest that women should first develop self belief, second -take the plunge when sure of their idea and third hang-in there and not give up easily.
What is that one change you suggest that will make women entrepreneurship blossom in this country?
Though men are not asked how they balance life and work, women are asked this question a lot. A lot of work-life balance can be achieved with good support system, mentoring and easy start-ups government policies (please don’t confuse us with too many policies and rules) and banking facilities for women. If possible a good central body to guide and work with women-led businesses can help.
How do you measure success? Is it different for men and women?
No, it’s not different. Finally, success is “SUCCESS”. The path for each would be different, challenging and exciting… but success is not spelled differently for anyone.
For me success does not mean a one-time achievement. It is a continuous process. I break down my big goals and keep small one and every time I reach them, I pat my own back. That motivates me to take on a bigger goal with confidence.
A funny or memorable anecdote or situation that you would like to share that had gender bias or happened because you were a female.
This was not funny… but it did prepare me to think how clients view customer service. In the early days of my business when I was just handling bulk orders, I had an order to be completed in a short time. The client had not given me the exact number and was expecting me to deliver in 15 days. It was my first tryst of working with multiple vendors and getting the correct numbers from the client who was playing tough. After day-night slogging I delivered the work two days before due date. They were pleasantly surprised. The comment I got to hear was: “Madam, others promise and just take their own sweet time to deliver and here you are delivering so early. Looks like you want to settle the payment fast and wash your hands off us!!”
I took it as a compliment.
We wish Tanushree Nair and Karaashilp the very best in their journey to success.