women

Meet 7 Indian Women Entrepreneurs Who Are Breaking the Ceiling with Their Incredible Ideas and Passion

Entrepreneurship

Do you find yourself among the women who want to do something in life? Are you the one who wants to be self-dependent? Then this inspiring article will work as a small cup of motivation for you because seeing women growing is something that soothes the heart inside out. 

Women are considered to be the most degraded sector of society when it comes to entrepreneurship or starting a business. Ever since I have come through a lot of articles written on various ladies that have come up and seen flying in the sky with the bright colours after starting up their own business, I find the previous statement quite foolish. The status of Indian women in society is drastically changing each day that passes by. You can find them in each sector growing like buds, calm and composed in their own ways.

We are never short of examples where women are creating wonders in various fields like Vandana Luthra, Ritu Kumar, Aditi Gupta, Falguni Nayar, and the list is endless. Furthermore, those who want to make efforts do not Wait for an opportunity to come or somebody to support them. All the need to fly is a cup full of motivation and a pinch of small investments added to the same. While researching for this article, I came across the work contribution of certain women who stepped into the huge world of entrepreneurship with just 25000 rupees in hand.

Nobody can give an estimate of the height she can reach if you push her a little bit. You might not have heard these names before because the foundation remains unheard when a woman initiates it.

It gives me immense pleasure to shout out this platform to all those who have changed the mentality by breaking the ceiling of this male-dominated society. Read the incredible stories of these Indian Women Entrepreneurs who are breaking the ceiling with their ideas and passion.

Radha Patel, Founder of Single To Shaadi

Radha Patel is an Indian woman entrepreneur who did build her own success. She is strong-minded and extremely passionate – which seems like exactly what you’re looking for!

Radha Patel

Radha Patel, states that “People want to get married but the current climate of “swiping” is actually hindering people from finding real relationships; dating is hard. Dating within a community is even harder.” 

What inspires you to start your business? How did your family react to it?

I was actually inspired by my family to start this business! Over the course of Summer 2018, I had a number of my single friends and family members ask me to introduce them to any single people I knew. Being married with children, I didn’t really know that many single people apart from them. However, I love connecting people, and networking is my passion, so I thought, why don’t I just start by matching all of these individuals to see if any of those worked out.

I quickly realized that I needed to expand my pool of eligible daters to make it work, which led me to create Single to Shaadi. I would say my immediate family has always been so supportive of the endeavor. In the beginning, because it started out as a hobby, I don’t think they realized it was a “business,” but the more time and effort I was dedicating to single to Shaadi, I saw them also falling in step with me. Whether it be my husband having to pitch in more with the kids and the house to my son literally managing my nightly schedule of client calls, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today without them.

What challenges did you face at the start of your business?

Imposter syndrome! You think you have a great idea and are so excited to get it out into the world, but the initial stumbling blocks of rejection really hit hard when you’re still trying to validate your idea. Found myself constantly thinking: “am I the right person to do this?” Or “why would anybody trust me? I don’t even have any success stories under my belt”. I had to take the advice of “fake it until you make it” to heart which boosted my confidence and allowed me to prioritize working with clients that validated what I was doing and made me feel good about the way I was helping them. Also, I had to come to terms with that, meaning I can’t help everyone all the time. The Second Challenge would be marketing, and that’s a challenge I am still facing today. Marketing is about meeting a customer where they are when they need us; having the money and resources to find that out and then execute on it still is one of our greatest challenges.

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what your viewpoints on it?

In the era of “me too,” coupled with technological advancements in the last 20 years, women are now empowered more than ever to be in control of their finances. In the 80s, we saw this as women joining the corporate Workforce, but I’m so excited to see now that more it’s more about women becoming entrepreneurs and taking charge of not only their ability to make money but their ability to impact the world. India, in many ways, has embraced that technological Revolution more so than the rest of the world, and it’s only natural that India’s women bring their ideas to life, often utilizing tech which is created in their country, to help launch themselves and their families into an entirely different socio-economic bracket.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I think back to my vision, mission, and values for why I created Single to Shaadi in the first place. I truly believe in the work that we are doing, and anytime I feel down or sad about maybe how fast I’m growing or how other people are doing better than me in a similar space, I just remember that I’m doing the best that I can and I’m actually impacting the world. It’s okay if it’s going to take me longer than other people because I know my way of doing it is completely unique, and it does resonate with those people that I am trying to help.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

Time. For a woman as social and connected as I am, having to say no to friends and family when they want to make dinner plans, going on vacation, or doing something impromptu used to make me feel bad initially. But as I saw my work reap the rewards, I realized that skipping a dinner here or there, or waking up extra early on the weekend just to knock out some emails before spending the day with my kids, in the long run, is what makes me successful and what makes me truly happy. I’m seeing tangible results that I can take with me. I’m not saying that memories aren’t worth the time and effort, but just think about all of the memories I’m helping these new couples make through my work and effort!

What is the best business advice you would like to give who are planning to start?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s always so much moving and changing in the world of Business and Technology that asking the right questions to the right people will end up saving you so much time in the long run. I know I’m a networker at heart. Still, I utilized these skills when I started by surrounding myself with successful South Asian women who weren’t just in the matchmaking space like I was. Still, we’re doing amazing entrepreneurial endeavors such as coaching, starting their own media companies, designers, and so much more! Having a tribe or a village just to bounce ideas off of or get recommendations from will save you so much time in the long run versus just going it on your own and learning through trial and error.

What does success mean to you?

Success, for me, means loving what I do while making an impact in other people’s lives. It’s not necessarily about the money, but the end goal of just being happy & healthy and surrounding myself with friends and family who are also happy and healthy. And if you have some fun along the way, well, there’s no harm in that!

M (Mangla) Bansal, Founder of Sustainable Life App

Launched in March 2020, the Sustainable Life App platform is a culmination of many aspects of her experiences, interests, and lessons learned. She created Sustainable Life App because these defining moments inspired her to want to create change.

Her mission is to make sustainable living easy and convenient and to unite consumers, manufacturers, brands, and businesses so that sustainable consumption becomes our collective forever normal. Sustainable Life App is available for FREE (Apple and Android) to instantly connect consumers with sustainable businesses, brands, and eco-service providers in your area.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I was working on a documentary series about my company’s 5 Factors for Sustainable Consumption™ (Impact on Human Health, Environmental Impact, Respect for Human Rights, Respect for Animal Rights, Socio-Economic Advantage), and I realized that although documentaries inspired people, they don’t create real tangible change. At that moment, I drew a wireframe for what is now my mobile app. After that, I checked both Apple + Android app stores to see if such an app existed… it didn’t, and the rest is history. 

What challenges did you face at the start of your business?

Well, most notably, I was entering into a field that I had ZERO experience in. I used to be a TV director/producer, and for those who also work in TV or marketing, you probably also have jobs where you feel like you can make the impossible happen (it just comes with the territory). My truth is that I have created an amazing product, but I had to start at a kindergarten level of understanding this new industry… I couldn’t just jump to my university level of experience that I had in my last field. It’s been humbling and also very exciting! 

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what are your viewpoints on it?

This makes me SO HAPPY! Female entrepreneurs tend to create businesses that help improve the world and bring betterment to it. The products that we create are ones that we know not only WE will use but are also ones that our friends will. We do great market research too to understand our potential customers – it’s a part of our female DNA. 

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I remind myself of how I would react if I was doing the same job for someone else… If I can make the impossible happen for others, then why not for me? As women, we like to take care of others – it’s just a fact. Women are also great at receiving love. So I decided when I created my company that whenever I felt shy, I would pretend I was working for someone else, and my shyness subsides. And when people did nice things for me, to receive the kindness and simply thank them with gratitude, appreciation, and a smile. It’s working great! 

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

It is investing 100% of my savings into this business (and then some). I have also gotten a lot of government support and funding (so it’s nice to know it’s not JUST ME who thinks this is a worthwhile tech business venture). 

What is the best business advice you would like to give to those who are planning to start?

Do your research! Especially if it’s a field that you know NOTHING about yet. Create a concrete plan and THEN tell people. If you don’t know what you’re doing and HOW you’re going to do it, people might talk you out of it (because they care about you and don’t want you to fail). So… do your homework and learn your market better than anyone else and THEN asks for help – be open to suggestions and feedback for improvement at that point… you’ll have a higher chance of actually succeeding if you go this route. 

Raj Girn, Founder of The Open Chest Confidence Academy

Raj is a multi-award-winning media and events entrepreneur, brand strategist, marketing consultant, confidence coach, and author with an eye for storytelling. For almost two decades, she has established herself as an expert in niche branding, media, marketing, and communications, working with corporate brands like L’Oréal Paris, GoDaddy, and Huawei, and celebrity brands like Priyanka Chopra and Robin Sharma.

raj girn

She was born and raised in England and coerced into an arranged marriage in Canada, which she left after eight years (divorced after ten). She recreated herself and is now on her third startup, The Open Chest Confidence Academy.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

“Time with my loved ones and time for love.

What inspired you to start your business? How did your family react to it?

I am an accidental entrepreneur. I never had any plans to go into entrepreneurship because I was reared to be married off in an arranged marriage, which I was – the reason that brought me from the UK (where I was born and brought up, to Toronto, Canada, where I have lived since).

I started my journey as a business owner after I got divorced, so I had no one to answer to other than my 5-year-old son when I made that decision, which was made out of 2 forms of compulsion that have been my driving force ever since.

The first being the fear of failing as a mother to provide for my son (I had always belonged to someone, be it, my parents or my husband, so belonging to myself was something that I wasn’t trained to be).

The second was the need to have representation for the “in-between culture” that I grew up in, which left me confused about my identity, where I lived at the intersection of traditional India and mainstream western culture.

I founded my media company to address this confused identity and legitimize it as its own identity, with a slew of products, which included: magazine, blog, coffee table books, social and e-communities, and events, with the ANOKHI media brand (est. 2002).

What challenges did you face at the start of your business?

  1. Lack of direction: I just wanted to create a platform where people like me, who were brought up in a dual identity environment, had a place that they could call home. But I didn’t know where that could or should lead. I just went with the flow. On the flip side, that same flow made me see opportunities that most people wouldn’t see, at least not those with business blinders on, that allowed me to spearhead many brand iterations that grew our brand equity to a very credible, world-class level.
  2. No business strategy: I didn’t solicit the aid of a business strategist early on in the business, so we went through a lot of trials and tribulations. But on the flip side, this also allowed us to explore the possibilities that common-sense business benchmarks wouldn’t have guided us to do, which resulted in many of the courageous moves we made, like spearheading an annual awards gala, which made no business sense, because although we received great multi-national support, as an ethnic perceived media company, comparatively speaking, we received the scraps of contingency budgets rather than be planned into the marketing budget cycles (initially speaking). But making this decision paid huge brand equity dividends, in that we were able to acquire the attendance of huge stars on both sides of the Atlantic, to participate in our events and media. Stars like: Kim Kardashian, Nicole Scherzinger, Nelly Furtado, Dita Von Teese, Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan, Kajol, Rohan Oza, Freida Pinto, and Robin Sharma.
  3. Acute lack of confidence: Because I always belonged to someone, coupled with the fact that my academic education had been in the health space, I wasn’t academically educated in business. This, along with all the limiting beliefs and self-sabotage associated with being a BIPOC single mother, played its toll on myself worth, even though I had secured big named celebrities and Fortune 500 companies for my media and event properties. My proverbial cup was always half empty – I always found just cause to beat up on myself for not being better. For example, if I raised $100,000 in sponsorship, why couldn’t I raise $500,000?

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what are your viewpoints on this?

Entrepreneurship means opportunity, so wherever the opportunity is available for women – especially in countries like India, where women are formally pronounced as second-class citizens, unlike in the west, where our inferiority is pushed into the underbelly of society – is a great thing. In Hindu culture, the ancients believed that the balance in the universe was achieved through the union of Shiva and Shakti – the masculine and feminine energy, with one without the other, being incomplete. If this is to be believed, then India being a patriarchal society, lens justification to why the county is in such turmoil. The imbalance is systemic and if this doesn’t change, through supporting female-led entrepreneurship, patriarchy has no context to control its rage.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I’ve worked long and hard on myself through mindset coaches, therapy, prayer, mediation, yoga, and deep self and introspection, which has taught me to reimagine my identity from a place of serving me rather than holding me back. Whether it’s ancient wisdom or modern technology, I incorporate those in my life that serve my continued quest for happiness and dharma.

What is the best business advice you would like to give who are planning to start?

  1. Know your “why” and feed the bottom line.
  2. Do to serve and not to acquire.
  3. Ask for help all the time.
  4. Surround yourself with people way better than you in everything, and be secure in yourself to not micromanage them with the small stuff, but do micromanage them for the big stuff.
  5. Focus on your strengths but acknowledge your weaknesses (because you cannot build a strong team or lead them without this).
  6. Be kind to yourself so that you can be kind to others.
  7. Be a guru and a student all the time.

Jia Wertz, Founder of Documentary Filmmaker

Jia is from Calgary, Alberta, and currently divides her time between Calgary and New York City with her husband and son. She is an independent documentary filmmaker pursuing stories that explore wrongful convictions in the name of protecting the social order.

Jia Wertz

She is currently investigating the vagaries and inconsistencies of the American Criminal Justice system through the story of Jeffrey Deskovic. In addition, she is a featured writer for Forbes, has contributed to a number of business and fashion publications, and is the Founder and fashion designer of Studio 15

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what your viewpoints on it?

While it’s great that women’s entrepreneurship has grown in India in recent years, we have a long way to go before it is equitable. I hope that this growth trend continues because we need to reach a point where all women can reach their full potential. Michelle Obama said it best when she said that, “No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”

What inspires you to start your business? How did your family react to it?

I have been passionate about wrongful convictions since I was in my twenties. My interest in this cause began when I read Rubin Carter’s book The Sixteenth Round, and I’d wondered ever since what I could do to help people who have been unjustly imprisoned. After listening to the Serial podcast in 2014, I was really motivated to do something to help the cause.

I remember so clearly the pivotal moment that drove me to make films. I was at Adnan Syed’s post-conviction hearing in Baltimore, and Amy Berg’s team was there filming the HBO docuseries ‘The Case Against Adnan Syed’ and a light bulb just went off, and I realized that filmmaking is something I could do that would reach a large audience and impact change.

My family has been very supportive during the entire process, and since the release of the film, they have been excited to attend some of the screenings and Q&As and see the success of the film and the impact it can have.

What challenges did you face at the start of your business?

One of the major challenges I faced, in the beginning was the inability to stand out in the very crowded internet space. With such a low barrier to entry, people can start businesses very quickly, making the webspace inundated with competitors. Whether it be ranking for certain keywords for my fashion business or increasing viewership to my film on Amazon, it’s a matter of effective marketing and public relations – which was definitely a challenge in the beginning.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I learned a great tip in the workshop that I attended that has helped me curb self-doubt in almost every situation. The workshop taught us to make a list of all our top accomplishments – the things we are most proud of. And keep that list in your notes, easily accessible on your mobile phone. Any time you are feeling imposter syndrome, or any type of self-doubt, simply pull out that list and read through it – even imagine what your opinion would be of another person if you were reading this same list about their accomplishments. This one little exercise helps get any insecure thoughts out of my mind and helps me realize that there is no merit to my negative inner voice.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

The biggest sacrifice I’ve made in starting my own business is giving up my free time. I typically utilize the majority of my free time to work on my business and my films. Anytime I find a small window of time in my day, even if it’s just 10 minutes, I take that time to complete small tasks or make a to-do list of the larger tasks that I need to complete to keep things moving forward. This has been especially challenging to do with a toddler at home but has forced me to be even more efficient and pickier with how I spend my time.

What is the best business advice you would like to give who are planning to start?

The advice I would give to someone who is planning to start their own business is simply to just start and get the ball rolling. There are far too many times great ideas don’t move forward because people either don’t dedicate the time to make it happen or don’t believe that they can do it. The best way to overcome this is to start taking the small steps necessary to start a business – this could mean to simply start the research necessary to determine whether your idea is feasible or to start analyzing competitors to see if and where there is a gap in the market. There are so many ways to gain momentum – just start the process. When I started filmmaking, I started by enrolling in a film program to learn everything I could, and from there, I started shooting b-roll that I could use in the transition scenes of the film. These were all baby steps that led to the larger goal being met in the long run. Not to mention, these things all added to the knowledge and experience I needed in order to accomplish my goal.

Dr. Zabina Bhasin, Founder of In KidZ Co

Dr. Zabina Bhasin, a child psychiatrist and mom of two who knows first-hand what it’s like to grow up feeling different – and sometimes being bullied for it. Now she’s made it her mission to help #stophate and support parents as they raise globally conscious little citizens!

zabina_bhasin

The guiding motto given to me by my mom that still follows me to this day is that “We are more similar than we are different. Our differences make us unique, but they do not separate us,” which to me says everything.

What inspired you to start your business? 

Looking back at my journey now, I could say that everything in my life led me to the exact position I have today. Still, the true catalysts in terms of inspiration have always been my mother, who gave me my motto and gave me the chance to see her come into my school and educate my fellow peers on my culture and diversity. My children are perhaps the most significant inspiration because it is for them; I want to help create a better world where we accept one another. Of course, my husband is the biggest inspiration because he is always so supportive of my ideas. When I first came to him with the idea for In KidZ, he did not even let me finish my sentence before telling me how great he thought this was and how much it represented who I am.

What challenges did you face at the start of your business?

The biggest challenge for us has been COVID! We launched our business at the beginning of COVID, and that was an incredible challenge. As most of us know, this pandemic has forced us to do things differently, and when you are starting a business in such a chaotic time, it can be challenging to keep your head up. Unfortunately, we had issues with our website being taken from us, and our launch of the website was pushed back; for a while, it all seemed very hopeless, but we prevailed.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

When I feel like giving up because everything is stacked against me, I find three factors that help me get back. The first part is the people around me; my team of supporters and business partners is at the core because they allow me to see and remember every day that we are doing important work.

Secondly, my family is always a big part of how I keep going. Looking at my children and seeing the difference I can make for their lives as they get older means the world to me and always having the support of my husband makes me feel like I can do anything.

Lastly, my parents, who raised me and instilled in me to make a difference globally, are the most significant work of all. My father was a person who fought for Sikh rights all over the world, which made me see the value of fighting for other people who cannot necessarily fight for themselves. I also had my mom, an educator who came into my school to teach my peers about Sikh culture. Watching my parents do everything they did with lesser means has made me genuinely feel like I can do so much more now with what I have built.

What is the best business advice you would like to give who are planning to start?

 Talk to other business owners! Seriously, it is so underrated to talk to other business owners and learn from them. I did not do this when I first started, so it was not until later that I realized how incredibly valuable. If I were going to give one piece of advice, that would be it, surround yourself with other business owners you can talk to and learn from. I would also like to add that you need to trust your team and listen to your team. There is a reason you have your team around you, and you should listen to their opinions. This is also when the power of diversity and inclusion reveals itself because if you make it a point to include and listen to all the views on your team, you will produce a very mindfully crafted product.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

The most significant sacrifice is time with my children. Sometimes when I am working, I would much rather hang out with them. It is hard to leave your kids as moms because you do not miss a single second, but my work is my passion, and I do it for them.

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what are your viewpoints on it?

As an Indian woman, nothing makes me happier or prouder than seeing women in India thrive. Especially when I think of the previous generations of women who did not get to see this happen. Unfortunately, India has not been a country where women have not been enabled and supported to become entrepreneurs. Traditionally Indian women would leave their work as soon as they had children because that was expected of them. Now we see women in India finally getting that support and encouragement to go out and challenge those traditional roles.

Avni Parekh, Author and Founder of LuvlyBOSS

Author Avni Parekh is more than just a writer; she’s also a mission-driven, creative entrepreneur whose goal is to help others. Blending her love of art, innovation, and knowledge, she has launched three well-branded businesses across different industries that she’s passionate about.

Avni Parekh

Then, in 2019, Avni launched LuvlyBOSS, a digital agency that helps female entrepreneurs set up their beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands. “Being a minority, the female business owner is hard enough,” she calmly explained. “I wanted to make sure that other minority women pursuing their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs had the tools they needed to succeed from day one.”

What inspires you to start your business? 

One of the driving forces behind the businesses I put my time and money into cultivating is an innate feeling of “this feels right.” The other driving force is a calling to help others.

What challenges did you face at the start of your business? 

Starting a business from the ground up, whether physical or digital, is an intricate process. For me, having to find out what worked and didn’t was through trial and error — which was the biggest challenge I encountered. Over time, I figured out all of the right steps to take, tools to leverage, and services to utilize. Then, I channeled what I learned into a way to be able to help other female entrepreneurs seamlessly set up their dream businesses. As a result, I launched LuvlyBOSS, a boutique brand development agency that provides all the resources needed to launch an online business as quickly as a week. LuvlyBOSS’ brand-launch starter kits are also applicable to companies that are currently in operation or planning to have a physical location. However, launch time can vary depending on finding store space, securing a lease agreement, as well as interior design and display. More importantly, these days, there are so many ingenious ways to have a shop without signing a lease. There are pop-up shops, community trade markets, truck carts, and a slew of other innovative options that all have their own set of governing rules. While all business owners will encounter challenges along the way, it’s well worth it if you love what you do and are driven to succeed.

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what are your viewpoints on it? 

There are an insurmountable amount of brilliant women in India, so it doesn’t surprise me that female entrepreneurship is on the rise. I think women throughout the country often face difficulties in pursuing their own businesses due to cultural biases, access to funding, viable child-care options, in addition to other significant barriers to entry. It’s my view that women living in India should be given the same opportunities that men are given. Plus, in light of recent research, it’s evident there is a substantial disparity among male to female small business owners in India. To fix this entrepreneurial divide, women’s rights must be elevated and respected. Furthermore, it’s critical that Indian citizens with old-school mentalities put aside outdated misconceptions about women’s roles and lean toward a more progressive and inclusive society that values the many contributions of women in today’s modern world. 

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up? 

At different points throughout our life, we will face adversity, along with self-doubting thoughts and a multitude of negative experiences. To add to that, when negativity and emotional traumas begin compounding, they can overwhelm the human psyche and impact your mental health. It’s this very subject matter which I delve into in my self-help book, Be The Bigger Person: Scenarios & Solutions to Better Yourself — it’s geared toward helping millennials and their teenage children overcome challenging situations and interpersonal conflicts. Additionally, my brand, Be The Bigger Person, is all about cultivating self-control and building resilience so that you don’t succumb to negativity. Maintaining resilience amid life’s hardships is the best way to build yourself back up. Through personal experience, I’ve found that being resilient gets you a long way in life. And, as a way to bring one of the brand’s core values front and center, Be The Bigger Person’s Resilient Collection, comprised of sustainable, size-inclusive hats and t-shirts, aids in reinforcing the power of inner strength and a person’s ability to rise above adversity.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business? 

Startup businesses require a lot of time and dedication, so you must be willing to make sacrifices in order to rise to the top. The biggest sacrifice I made when starting my e-commerce business was having to restructure my finances. However, every successful entrepreneur knows the benefit of having other streams of income, which is why I’d advise not putting all of your eggs in one basket especially if you’re winging it. 

What is the best business advice you would like to give to those who are planning to start? 

Several factors can set your business on the path to success. However, the two that are most critical to starting on the right foot are 1) strategic planning and 2) scaling accordingly. To that point, my advice to entrepreneurs who want to become business owners is, be thorough in their planning prior to launch, have an operational strategy in place, and use their working capital methodically.

What does success mean to you? 

I think success is a subjective concept since we all perceive words and information a bit differently. For instance, I believe small wins are just as impactful as big wins. In fact, the more you achieve the goals you set in place for yourself — no matter how insignificant you think they may be — the greater the chance of your collective successes amounting to one big, notable achievement. 

Gayatri Chopra and Simran Kaur, Co-Founder, Simitri

After graduating from the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology in India and completing a Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti program in Milan, Gayatri Chopra began designing her signature Indian-inspired handbags from her parent’s garage in New Delhi in 2009.

Gayatri Chopra and Simran Kaur,

After she moved to Philadelphia, she was joined by her sister-in-law, Simran Kaur, who convinced her to expand her business in the United States. Together, they launched SIMITRI (a combination of both of their names) in 2015, and over the last five years, their bags have shimmered at New York Fashion Week and were carried by the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. Each collection has challenging norms and design principles and gives us accessories that are just like them, bright, bold, and fearless. 

What inspired you to start your business? How did your family react to it?

SIMRAN: As a kid, I was always fascinated with my mother’s bags and spent most of my allowance buying them as often as I could. After moving to the U.S. in 2004, I would try and shop for different and unique bags, but never quite liked what I found. Many years later, when my brother and now sister-in-law (Gayatri) decided to get married, I saw a great opportunity to introduce her designs to the market here, and together, we started Simitri. We started by selling on Etsy initially and slowly grew our business every year. My parents have always been extremely supportive of everything I do or want to do, and with two little kids to look after, the “working from home” business model seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.

GAYATRI: Growing up in a business family and watching my father run his company was always fascinating to me. I think I always grew up imagining having my own office and being the boss someday. When I graduated from college and began working, it took me just 6 months to realize that I needed to do something of my own, and that was it; I never looked back. My family was thrilled with my decision and encouraged me to follow my dream. I have grown up watching my aunts and uncles work in the same business for years, and I always thought that was just the normal thing to do. Now my company is entirely different from our family business and continues to evolve in a completely unique way.

What challenges did you face at the start of your business?

SIMRAN: I’d say that our initial challenges were introducing the brand to boutique buyers, organically growing our online shop, and finding the right talent to represent us at trade and retail shows. I’d also say that in today’s world of social media and constant email marketing, getting the right messaging across to our email subscribers and followers was also a bit of a challenge at the start.

GAYATRI: Not knowing how to do accounting! I am a designer, and I didn’t realize when I began the business that it would take way more than some sketches, sourcing materials, and putting together beautiful embroideries; that all came naturally to me, and I enjoyed it, but I soon realized that I had to be able to understand how to do accounts in order to successfully run the business. 

In recent years, Women Entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly; what are your viewpoints on it?

SIMRAN: Remarkably, women in India are taking on an entrepreneur’s typical “male” role. A woman entrepreneur is a positive role model for young children, especially when they see their mother, aunt, or sister take on the role. As a country with the largest population of youth and one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial ecosystems, women are strongly set to mark their ground and drive the growth in perfect partnership with their male counterparts, whether they live in small villages or have an MBA from a prestigious college.

GAYATRI: Better late than never, but still a very long way to go. 

So many talented women have never gotten an opportunity to work for so many years because of the patriarchal system and other restrictions laid out by families. This is only the beginning, and there are still only a small percentage of women that are getting an opportunity to show off their entrepreneurial skills. We work with so many women in India on different levels, and we see the struggle they need to go through just to be able to work, and then they barely get a chance or the required recognition in order to reach their highest potential. I feel proud when I see the women who are able to break the glass ceiling and become entrepreneurs. 

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

SIMRAN: By believing in my own strength and past accomplishments in times of adversity. Also, by knowing that “this too shall pass” and “tomorrow is another day.”

GAYATRI: I remind myself of the small goals I had when I began my business 12 years ago, and then I go over all of the big and small milestones and hurdles we have had to go through to get to where we are today. I also remind myself what our sales were when we began versus what they are now. That always helps.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

SIMRAN: My biggest sacrifice has been taking a pay cut to believe in the brand story and its worth.

GAYATRI: I honestly can’t think of any. I enjoy what I do, and I’m grateful to be living my dream. 

What is the best business advice you would like to give who are planning to start?

SIMRAN: Always be kind and forgiving to yourself and definitely believe in the power of ‘you.’ Ask for help when you need it, as you may not have all of the answers. Success and hard work go hand-in-hand, but you also need the patience to start a new business and see your ideas come to fruition.

GAYATRI: It’s cliché, but you have to love what you do, and you have to believe in it. I have the same level of love and passion for my work now as the day I started. You go through so many ups and downs while trying to establish yourself, and it is that belief that gives you the determination to go on and not give up. 

Also, always be ready to adapt and change. Don’t fixate on any one idea that you started with; be prepared to evolve with the changing times and always listen to your audience.