Women in Business
Managing Director, Kishco Limited
Children thrive in the pursuit of their passions if gently encouraged by their families. I feel blessed that my parents have always encouraged and motivated me. They made sure I had the confidence to pursue my dreams.
Having developed an interest in health and fitness—I was a competitive swimmer in school, and played badminton and squash—I went on to take certifications from international institutes. I have been in the fitness industry now for over 25 years. At Bombay Hospital, I structure training programmes for patients with special needs. I have guided trainers through fitness-related disciplines. Apart from authoring 10 books on wellness, I have, as a columnist, written on nutrition and fitness.
I began taking active interest in the successful family business, Kishco Limited (established in 1950) around 10 years ago. Aiming to take Kishco a notch higher, I have relaunched it as a premium brand through an informative website and initiated an international designer packaging. I recently restructured the Kishco store at Marine Drive, Mumbai, and I’m in the process of creating a new Kishco store at Kandivali.
Proprietor, CORAL fashion concept store
My parents were a mix of traditional and contemporary; while they made sure we went to the best English-medium schools in Kolkata, they were traditional enough to get me and my sister married off at the age of 18.
I completed my graduation after marriage. My husband and his family let me pursue a career as a fashion designer. After the birth of my two children, my husband encouraged me to join his textile/fashion export business [Sreepriya Exports] in the product development and export management division. I accompanied him on business trips to Europe. I also took up the challenge of working with Belgian fashion designer Dries van Noten and continue to collaborate with him.
After working in my husband’s company for over 20 years, I wanted to start my own business. I realised Kolkata needed an altogether unique European fashion store; and so in March this year began Coral, a fashion concept store at Ballygunge, Kolkata. Built out of the money I had saved over the years, Coral is my initiative, although my daughter has also helped me stay positive during this journey.
Director and Founder, Y Not Travel
My parents set strict rules for me and my siblings [a sister and a brother]. Though we were provided with the best of everything, my sister and I were not allowed to go overseas for studies.
I was 20 and studying at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi, when I got married. My mother-in-law encouraged me to complete my graduation, after which I had my two children. Years later, I felt I should do something meaningful with my life… start a business perhaps. My husband and in-laws told me to go ahead, but do something that wouldn’t require me to go out of the house to work. I love to travel and so thought, ‘why not earn money to fund my holidays?’ That’s how ‘Y Not Travel’ came about. We launched the company in 2004, with a seed capital of R10,000.
In those days, my mother-in-law would get the kids ready for school and drop and pick them up. She encouraged me to study further at the Indian School of Business. I was 35 then, and today, thanks to her, I am running a company that is supporting 35 families.
My parents supported me and my siblings when it came to education and exploring career options. They would say, “It is your life. Do whatever you want; we will support you in your endeavours.” When I told them I wanted to pursue fashion designing, they were happy with my decision. When I decided against it and chose to pursue economics, they were okay with that too. I opted for an MSc in Economics and Management from the London School of Economics (LSE), and later did a traineeship programme
in the Performance Management Division of the Cabinet Secretariat.
Marriage happened when I was 22, and it was my husband who pushed me to do something of my own. He said, “Just tell me what you need; I will provide you with the support system and we will make it happen.” Launched in 2014, Sugarbox offers exclusive subscriptions for theme-based gift boxes full of goodies that have been handpicked by our team of stylists. My husband even helped me network with the right people, and other family members pitched in too. My father-in-law continues to help me, while my mother-in-law and mother lend me a hand in sourcing the goodies.
Parents can play an important role when it comes to a person’s vocational development. I have two sisters and a brother, and our parents invested in our education and made sure we studied in the best colleges. I, for one, studied fashion at the Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts in London, before working with iconic names in the world of fashion such as Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Burberry. The thing I appreciate the most about our parents is that they’ve continually pushed us forward and allowed us every freedom in terms of education or work. They always encouraged us to pursue our dreams and supported us when my sisters and I launched our skincare brand SkinYoga, which takes a leaf from Ayurveda and uses raw ingredients.
Though our family supported us, our parents believed we should be independent as well. They would say: “We will always be there for you. However, if you don’t achieve this on your own, you will always need somebody’s help along the way, and we don’t want that to happen.” They wanted us to take it as a challenge and tackle the business successfully, which we did. Today, they are proud of us and that’s what keeps us going.