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‘Tis a Women’s World!

As the International Women’s Day is around the corner (8th March), we celebrate the success of some phenomenal women entrepreneurs who have surpassed the stereotypical shackles of the society and created an impact in their respective industries. These women shed light on their journey to success, their mantra to overcome the challenges that came along the way, and a special message on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

After all, there is nothing in this world that we as women cannot achieve. Cheers to womanhood!

Stuti Ashok Gupta, Principal: Brand & Vision, Amrutam

Recently seen in Shark Tank India and featured in Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list, Stuti Ashok Gupta is on her mission of building a global wellness community through Amrutam. She is also a part-time mental health professional with a master’s degree in Applied Psychology with clinical specialization from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Her first book, Sublimation, was published at the age of 21 and she also co-founded a chain of backpackers hostels – The Lost Tribe Hostels, at 22. She wears multiple hats and straddles between building communities, brand curation, storytelling, mental health, and weaving narratives inspired by her life experiences and travels.

What inspired you to start Amrutam? What makes it different from other Ayurvedic brands?

Amrutam was started by my father Sh. Ashok Gupta as a herbal products manufacturing company in 2006. After spending more than two decades in the Ayurveda industry, he realized that manufacturers weren’t doing justice to the ayurvedic recipes, and their quality of products wasn’t up to the mark. The formulations were loaded with substantial amounts of glucose and sugar that were detrimental to their effectiveness. To provide authentic handcrafted recipes inspired by ayurvedic texts, my father set up Amrutam with the help of my mother Smt. Chandrakanta Gupta.

In 2016, Amrutam suffered a substantial financial setback and was on the verge of closure. Around this time, my brother, Agnim, and I were working on our respective startups. Agnim is the Founder of Sqrfactor, a tech platform for architects, and I was running The Lost Tribe, a chain of backpackers hostels nestled in Goa and Manali.

Upon learning about this fallout, Agnim and I decided to join the family business at our mother’s suggestion. So, in 2017, we started working on curating a new range of recipes, working on a new logo, new packaging, and design to give Amrutam a DTC feel and build it as an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Brand envisioned building a community of Ayurveda enthusiasts. Since then, Amrutam has quickly become India’s fastest-growing Ayurvedic Lifestyle Brand and Wellness Community, with over 1,00,000 members across 40 countries.

As a woman entrepreneur, what are some challenges that you had to encounter? How did you overcome them?

  1. To make people take you seriously is tough, because they assume a woman doing business is a hobby and not a serious task a lot of times.
  2. People asking me to “connect with your boss” and me telling them that I am the decision maker.
  3. Investors ask women questions which are poles apart from the kind of questions that are asked from men.

One final message on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

As women, we constantly question whether we are deserving enough to take a seat at the table, to make decisions, to be able to run the show without a man approving of it. However, over the years, I have learned that as working women, we must overcome our fear to claim our freedom. If you think you have the knowledge and the depth that is needed to do a task, do it without apprehension. While we all make mistakes, that shouldn’t be something that stops us from trying, learning, and yearning to grow. Gender bias is so subtle and intangible, most often, that it is hard to fight it. It is easy to victimize yourself but building awareness of how we contribute to this bias is a big game-changer.

Chahatt Khanna, Actress and Founder of Ammarzo

An entrepreneur, Indian film actress, animal activist and a single mother of two daughters, Chahatt Khanna envisions to create a legacy for her daughters which can be carried forward for times immemorial.

Her brand, Ammarzo was born out of her uncompromising attention to the smallest of details in the fabric and the quality of products. Her quest has got her to use the best fabric and designs out there globally, and at Ammarzo, her constant endeavor is to create high-quality products in India.

You don various hats including that of an actress, animal activist, mother, and entrepreneur. Which is your personal favourite? Why?

I love being an actress, that’s the old me!

What inspired you to start Ammarzo? What makes it different from other brands?
People are becoming more aware of the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, such as pollution, exploitation of workers, and waste. I always wanted to make a difference by creating sustainable fashion brands that prioritize ethical and eco-friendly practices.
I had a desire to promote a more mindful and conscious way of living and create a legacy for my daughters in the years to come. The name of Ammarzo is derived from their names – Amaira and Zohar.
What makes Ammarzo different from other brands is that we focus on using eco-friendly materials and production methods, promote transparency and ethical business practices, support local communities and economies, and encourage consumers to adopt more sustainable and mindful fashion choices.

As a woman entrepreneur, what are some challenges that you had to encounter? How did you overcome them?
I had to face a lot of challenges in many types. I had no business background; I had always been an actor but my love for fashion has got me to start Ammarzo.
I had limited sources of funds and post starting Ammarzo, the COVID pandemic took place. By God’s grace, we sustained the wave and did not shut. I still keep learning each day and in this learning process, one tends to lose a lot of money when you don’t know many things beforehand.

One final message on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
To all the fans out there, my wish for you is to recognize and appreciate the incredible women in your life, whether they are your mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, or colleagues. Let’s work together to build a world where women are treated with respect, dignity, and equality, and where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and succeed. Happy International Women’s Day!

Sadaf Syed, Founder, Hands of Gold

The casual pursuit for a customizable paper mache product and its unavailability in the local market kindled Sadaf Syed to initiate her entrepreneurial journey and ever since then, there has been no turning back!

The Founder of Hands of Gold, Sadaf aims at leveraging the craftsmen’s skill in exchange for acclamation, acknowledgement, and true value to the Kashmiri art by acting as a touchpoint between the artisans in the otherwise long supply chain. Sadaf wishes to amplify the handicraft industry which is a major part of the Indian economy. She is also passionate to reintroduce the Kashmiri craftsmen’s art as a sustainable career option for the next generation, profitable to the stakeholders at all levels.

What inspired you to start Hands of Gold? What makes it different from other brands?

Hands of Gold was launched in 2015. The spontaneous search for a personalised paper mache product and its absence in the local market prompted me to embark on this business adventure. Since then, our venture has filled this gap by providing the finest of Kashmir to the world through its unique product line.

Hands of Gold is an inclusive brand that I hope will let people witness and experience the valley’s timeless artistry and craftsmanship.

As a woman entrepreneur, what are some challenges that you had to encounter? How did you overcome them?

The challenges are not primarily gendered. The most significant challenge is a wavering self-belief!

I was determined to take the plunge and knew what I wanted.

I educated myself on the art forms of Kashmir. I researched online and spent hours at the local libraries, learning about the cultural legacy and art of Kashmir. This acted as a starting point of my understanding of the Handicraft industry in the valley which was embossed further by sitting with the celebrated Karigars of Kashmir and getting a hands-on experience of the craft.

On the business front, it took me a while to understand the working of the logistic and operational vertical but after failing many times, we got the hang of it.

One final message on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

This women’s day, my message for the women is to believe in themselves. Quench those wavering thoughts of self-doubt and know that you can do amazing things. To all the men and other women in their lives, support women in every way you can, so that they get a thriving environment to grow intellectually and emotionally, the magic this will unleash will be beyond words put together.

Sonalika Seth, Co-founder, Dennison India

The co-founder of a sustainable homegrown brand, Dennison, Sonalika focuses more on the Marketing, Sales, and PR side of the business, while her better-half, Ashwani Seth looks at the other aspects of Dennison.

A qualified MBA in Marketing and HR from ITM University (Gwalior) and a Diploma in Kathak from Raja Mansingh Tomar University, Gwalior, Sonalika has a keen eye of perception about market trends and understands the pulse of social media as well.

She has shared stage with the best in the field of Kathak dance including Pandit Birju Maharaj and she has been awarded repeatedly for her stellar performances. Sonalika now inspires innovation and creativity within her brand, Dennison.

What inspired you to venture into menswear? Tell us more about Dennison.

This industry has always been up for their new collections or new trends. We have been more interested in the new styles and the bold colours. The focus on sustainability and ethical fashion is growing in the fashion industry. We saw a big gap in men’s workwear and that inspired us a lot to come into this category.

The brand has sensibly improvised and positioned itself as a ‘people’s brand’ in the last 8 years.  It has also focused on filling gaps in Men’s workwear and Women’s Work wear. This includes affordable low maintenance shirts and trousers, plus size clothing, sustainable clothing, casual ethnic wear, dresses work/ casual wear etc. Our brand has experienced consistent growth and massive traction throughout the financial years (2021-2022).

Our recent innovations include the introduction of women’s western, formal wear and fusion wear. As the world is moving towards responsible fashion, we have introduced plant-based sustainable fashion clothing. The material that we use comprises hemp, bamboo, aloe vera, banana and/or organic cotton. This is not restricted in fabric only, but it is also included in thread, button, and our brand label – everything is recyclable in nature!

As a woman entrepreneur, what are some challenges that you had to encounter? How did you overcome them?

Women entrepreneurs often have to juggle multiple responsibilities, including family obligations, which can make it challenging to manage a business. Women may struggle to find mentors who can provide guidance and support as they navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship. Women may face stereotypes about their ability to lead and manage a business, which can impact their credibility and reputation. Women entrepreneurs may have limited access to networks and resources that can help them grow their businesses. It’s essential to recognize and address these challenges to support women entrepreneurs and create more equitable opportunities for all. I had encountered these challenges in my journey as a woman entrepreneur.

I overcame these challenges by raising awareness about the challenges that I had to face. Hence, I have created a more supportive and inclusive business environment. Overall, creating a supportive and inclusive environment for women entrepreneurs requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the various challenges which I have faced. By working together, we can create a more equitable and inclusive business landscape for all.

One final message on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day serves as an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of women throughout history and to advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. It also provides a platform for women to share their stories, experiences, and perspectives, which can help to raise awareness of the challenges that women still face in many parts of the world.

To all the strong, courageous, and brilliant women out there, I want to remind you of your worth and the incredible contributions you make!

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