How I Became A Fashion Label Founder From An Animator

After schools reopened, I decided to return to full-time work. The journey was not easy, and I wanted to be financially independent!

December is my favourite month. It brings with it chilly mornings, warm snuggles, and time for introspection. As I look back on the year 2022 went by, it’s been two months already, and I still can’t believe it!

I now think and question, how did I do it? Did I manage to become a better person during those 12 months or otherwise? Personally speaking, 2022 had been difficult. A funny kind of self-imposed hell I’ve been through that year.

Thankfully, with a lot of familial support, I’ve been able to move forward and overcome it. Am I ready to welcome and appreciate 2023 with an open mind and a grateful heart, I hope.

Reach the stars, but also get married!

It’s funny how we bring up our daughters in India. We educate them and allow them to follow a career and passion, “Reach for the stars, darling,” my dad used to say. Yet, the most important task of her parents remains to get their girl married.

I had a fantastic upbringing — the best education at the school and college levels. Freedom to make my career choice. There was never any pressure to work and earn a living. Carefree, I worked hard at becoming an animator.

I put in long and gruelling hours — sharpening my skills. The harder I worked, the better I became at my craft and fell in love with it. I began work in the Gaming and eLearning industry. Only at that time, my mother decided that I must get married. As a single mother after my Dad’s demise, she was keen to put an end to her “responsibility”.

The proposal was good. I was almost coerced to consent to the match. As the wedding involved moving base, I was asked to give up my job and start preparing for the big DAY.

“Now forget all this,” said my future Mother in Law.

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“Take it easy, relax.”

I won’t give up my passion!

That is exactly what I was not able to do. I had agreed to relocate, not give up my passion. A month after my wedding, I took up a full-time job and was ecstatic. Climbing up the professional ladder, I soon learned to juggle work and married life with ease.

Until infertility treatments and the pressure to have a child made me take a career break. Shifting the focus to a new path, I signed up for a course in Fashion Design. Hard work is my mantra, and it’s given me success at each stage.

Two years of relentless work helped me to create a name for myself as a fashion designer. Loyal clients and a great team at work kept my boutique going even after I delivered my son.

Raising a toddler and an infant without support was hard

Then followed a second conception, completely unplanned. The decision to not abort was tough. Taking care of a newborn and a toddler simultaneously proved to be a Herculean task.

Without much support from my family, I was unable to get back to work no matter how hard I tried. “Let’s close the boutique”, suggested my husband gently. “We can always restart in a few years”, he added as tears rolled down my cheeks.

Being financially independent and having an identity of my own has been crucial to me.

Never did I think that I would have to give up all of it.

The pandemic hit us all

Cut forward to 2020 — The Pandemic struck. We were confined indoors. Online school for both children. As I sat watching the eLearning videos with my kids, something stirred inside me. I began to sob uncontrollably.

The children were frightened and shocked out of their wits. “This was my field, “I wailed. “I gave it all up for you! My tone was accusative. I couldn’t believe it. I had dreamt of becoming a mother. Not only that, but I adored my children, yet I was blaming them for my situation.

It didn’t get any better.

As I spent time teaching the children and being their sole caregiver during the lockdown, I sank into depression. One day I turned the entire house upside down looking for my old portfolio. Applying on job websites to any random opportunities, I was in for a shock.

Submerged in the effort of raising children, I’d lost touch with all my software skills.

Self-help is the only way!

Self-help was the best way forward. I joined a 1-month course at an institute nearby to refresh my skills. Nothing could stop me now. I soon started freelancing — combining my illustration skills and fashion expertise.

Working from home, I designed prints, logos, and artwork for t-shirts and loungewear. A shift from my earlier boutique and customization work. The effort was exhausting but rewarding. During the day, the children would take up most of my time.

Mornings would be taken up by cooking and attending online school. Evenings would be spent completing and uploading homework. Nights were the only time I’d be able to sit and work. Deadlines were short, but I was competent.

Schools were reopening!

The summer of 2022 brought excitement as physical schools were reopening. After two complete years, the children would be back to school. All the mothers were ecstatic except me.

“The kids will be off to school, what about me?” A nagging, lingering sadness persisted.

I MUST get out and start work. On June 1st, I packed the kids off to school and rushed to give an interview I’d already prepared for. It was for the position of a senior designer at a Software firm.

And BANG!!!

My car was dashed by a speeding biker who hit my windshield headlong. I escaped unhurt, but bitter. Wrongly interpreting my restlessness as a sign from above.

Was I destined to be a housewife?

“I am destined to stay at home and be a HOUSEWIFE”, I spat like it was a curse.

Frustrated and angry, I wasn’t able to concentrate on the freelance assignments I had in hand. It was tough as my family could not understand what was wrong with me.

Everything was fine according to them. I had a family, a comfortable home, great kids, and part-time work… why was I UNHAPPY?

Therapy is the journey to clarity

We turned to professional counselling. Thank God for that! My therapist patiently explained how 90 % of young Indian women of the present generation were suffering. They had grown up with ambitions and had worked hard to become professionals.

The demands of family life and raising kids were almost 24/7. As most families are nuclear families today, these women don’t have any support, except for paid help. The husband is supportive but busy. Maids are unreliable and expensive.

Women today want it all — great kids, toned figures, fabulous careers, and even better pay packages. It is impossible to achieve it all. As a result, they suffer anxiety, depression, and a lot of self-imposed trauma. I was not alone.

A step-by-step plan on how I could get back to a full-time career!

We charted out a step-by-step plan on how I could get back to a full-time career in fashion, that’s what I wanted. Mid-July, I started work with my husband at his Garment Export House. There was little work for me, and travelling 50 km to and fro was tough.

I could almost feel the office staff laughing at me.

Yet. I had made up my mind to be nothing but positive. Taking baby steps, I learned something new each day. With encouragement from the kids and my life partner, I slowly gained confidence. Working on a range of T-shirts I designed, we started a small fashion label- MISHMOSH.

I created my fashion label!

Two preview exhibitions have shown great response. On the job, I learned the various steps involved in producing knitted apparel. With guidance, I’ve supervised and executed two export orders and successfully shipped them.

I celebrate each small achievement I make.

Mishmosh will launch online in the summer of 2023 with a new range of apparel for Women and Kids. There is so much happening so quickly, it feels like destiny. I must be patient and work hard.

The Universe finally aligned itself to fulfil my dreams. I am brimming with gratitude and joy. Yes! I did it.

Image source for #IDIDIT article: Stel A’ntic from Corolens and kimberry woods via Getty Images, free on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Meeta Chablani

Hi! I'm Meeta Chablanii- an animator, illustrator a freelance fashion designer and a full time mom to two little brats. My journey of bringing them up forms the backdrop of most of my posts. read more...

22 Posts | 16,405 Views

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