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From running away from home to staying on a railway platform and beginning her journey as an entrepreneur selling door to door, Chinu Kala of Rubans Accessories is an inspiration.
‘Get out of my house! If you don’t obey my command, you can’t live here anymore. I will see who supports you now’, the girl’s father screamed.
The defiant Chinu, then barely 15-year-old, picked up her bag and left home. She had only one salwar suit and 300 rupees in her bag and had no idea, no clue, where she would go, where she would live, what she would do to survive in this big bad world. Her mother had left them and gone abroad when she was only one years old, her father had married again and there were a lot of differences between them.
Does her story sound familiar? Ah, that’s because it is the story of many defiant, assertive and headstrong females who refuse to accept dominating, repressive and abusive behaviour, irrespective of their age or background.
‘I stayed on the railway platform for two days and spoke to a number of people about the kind of work a teenage girl could do. A kind lady finally told me about door-to-door selling opportunities that would fetch me only commission for each product sold.’ Chinu Kala, founder of artificial jewlery brand Rubans Accessories, recounted during her pitch on Shark Tank India season 2 during its finale week.
Doors were slammed on her face, she had bouts of crying and dejection, and had to share a bed-only-dormitory with other women yet she was determined to make her first job a success. And she did. Within a few months, she was asked to lead a team of 3 girls.
During her third job as a customer care executive at a franchisee of Tata Telecom, she met Amit Kala who is now her partner, both in life and business. After her marriage, she ventured into the beauty business and started a salon at home.
She also participated in the Gladrags Mrs India contest and even though she didn’t win the top spot, she managed to bag a position among the top ten finalists. It’s there that she realized how a single piece of jewellery can make you shine and stand out among the crowd. That was the catalyst to starting her jewellery brand in 2014. She combined her love for fashion and years of learning to set up Rubans Accessories.
Today Rubans is a brand worth 100 crores and India’s fastest growing jewellery brand. And it is completely bootstrapped till now.
From having a measly 300 rupees in her bag to building a 100-crore rupees business, this gutsy woman has surely come a long way. Her struggle, spirit of enterprise and perseverance highly impressed all the sharks. Anupam Mittal and Amit Jain commended her for learning from the ‘school of life’.
Namita Thapar broke into a bit of poetry while applauding Chinu, ‘farq bahut hai aapki aur hamari taaleem me, ham ne to ustaado se seekha, aap ne haalato se seekha (there is a huge difference between your and our education, we learnt from the experts, you learnt from your circumstances)’.
‘Your life is a brilliant example of grit and determination,’ a visibly delighted and emotional Vineeta Singh recalled watching her journey in JoshTalks a couple of years ago and getting immensely inspired by her courage and resilience.
While Peyush Bansal declined to invest, Namita and Vineeta offered Chinu and Amit 1-crore in equity and 50 lakh as debt, which was promptly opposed by Anupam Mittal as debt would be difficult to service as the company goes into growth mode. But sharks Amit Jain and Aman Gupta concurred with Namita and Vineeta. Aman Gupta quickly joined their offer, making it a three-shark deal.
While it may not be good to presume, but given the state of crime against women in India I shudder to think about the kind of obscene comments and lustful eyes the teenage Chinu would have had to bear while she stayed alone on the railway platform amidst complete strangers (many of them with criminal intent).
At the same time, it fills my heart with pride and joy to see this brave woman with bare minimum school education become a TedX speaker and also be invited to the elite Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad to speak about her life experiences and journey of entrepreneurship. She says, ‘you have to first be a believer (in yourself), then only you can become an achiever’.
Do you agree with her?
Curious about anything and everything. Proud to be born a woman. Spiritual, not religious. Blogger, author, poet, educator, counselor. read more...
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If a woman insists on her prospective groom earning enough to keep her comfortable, she is not being “lazy”. She is just being practical, just like men!
When an actress described women as “lazy” because they choose not to have careers and insist on only considering prospective grooms who earn a lot, many jumped to her defence.
Many men (and women) shared stories about how “choosy” women have now become.
One wrote in a now-deleted post that when they were looking for a bride for her brother, the eligible women all laid down impossible conditions – they wanted the groom to be not more than 3 years older than them, to earn at least 50k per month, and to agree to live in an independent flat.
Most of my women clients are caregivers—as mothers, wives and daughters. And so, they tend to feel guilty about their ambitions. Belief in themselves is hard to come by.
* All names mentioned in the article have been changed to respect client confidentiality.
“I don’t want to take a pay cut and accept the offer, but everyone around me is advising me to take up what comes my way,” Tanya* told me over the phone while I was returning home from the New Delhi World Book Fair. “Should I take it up?” She summed up her dilemma and paused.
I have been coaching Tanya for the past three months. She wants to change her industry, and we have been working together on a career transition roadmap.
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