I Was ‘Married Off’ Against My Will, But I Didn’t Stop Chasing My Career Dream!

Sheer grit and determination kept me on the path to following my dream of building my business in the fashion industry, despite everything!

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 grueling hours – sharpening my skills. The harder I worked, the better I became at my craft, and fell in love with it.

Married off

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. “Take it easy, relax.”

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.

Setting up a business, but…

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. 2 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.

Then followed a second conception, completely unplanned. The decision to not abort was tough. Taking care of a new-born 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.

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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. 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 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.

A supportive husband

As normalcy returned and physical schools began I was able to work during the day. So much time before the kids came back from school? I couldn’t sit still. I needed to get back to a full time career. It was not enough for me to be just a freelancer. I wanted to be more than just a housewife doing assignments in her spare time. That could be possible only with the help and support of my husband. He understood my restlessness.

He knew it was my dream to return to work and he helped me realize it.

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 business. There was little work for me and traveling 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 my Hubby and kids being so supportive I gained confidence. Working on a range of T-shirts that I had designed we started a small fashion label. A few preview exhibitions have shown great response.

My fashion label has launched 2 successful summer and festive collections. Both have been sell outs. Our team of designers, production assistants and the online marketing team all work hard to ensure that we make quality our mantra. The road ahead is tough as we have a lot of competition. The market is flooded with fashion labels with almost 10 new ones emerging each month. However, I seek to keep learning with every order shipped, every design that is successful and also the ones that don’t do so well.

A dream that I dreamt is the one that I live out today. Sheer determination and lots of hard work with that unrelenting spirit to not give up. That is what is needed if you want to make your dreams a reality.

Image source: Pixabay

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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 | 16,396 Views

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