To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to challenge stereotypes that limit women. We caught up with a few women who have managed to make a mark in their field despite the various challenges and obstacles thrown their way.
Kreena Khandelwal: Founder, Yellow Umbrella Creative
Kreena always believed in perfection – be it getting dressed till the last strand of her hair was in place or shifting the logo of her design by 0.2 mm till it’s all aligned. But, today she has achieved what she has because life hasn’t always been perfect.
Kreena got into designing to join her father in his printing press, but it wasn’t meant to be, as she lost him to cancer. Her unconventional love story like the movie 2 states ended up in her entering a gigantic Marwadi family after quitting her ad agency job. But that didn’t stop her as her husband gave a push start to her career as an independent designer. A few months later, their brainchild Yellow Umbrella Creative was born, which built a reputation for delivering on-point design solutions with time.
She suffered through early struggles like any other startup, with fewer good projects but low on budgets. Slowly it grew to a point where she remembers checking her emails even when she was just out of the OT after delivering her son. And Maternity Leave…what’s that?
Soon after, she dared to move to a small studio space to increase her team size and outputs. Came March 2019, when on one hand she had the best design projects and on the other, she was holding her reports that detected Stomach Cancer. Her work desk used to be on the 15th floor at Hinduja hospital during her 5-day chemotherapy sessions. All of 2019 was learning about the new normal – wearing a fancy pagdi like bandana instead of long hair, struggling to keep up her immunity.
By the start of 2020, she had perfected the art of growing with a team, living without a stomach and savings ( as insurance never paid up). But there’s nothing like a perfect life, her husband got a brain stroke on march 16th 2020. So, her new office was the waiting area outside the ICU.
After another challenging year, today, when she looks back at all the struggles in life and speed breakers in her career, she believes she has only grown stronger and unstoppable as a person.
“No matter what life throws at you, never leave your passion and your family. In my case, both have been the reason i am alive.” says Kreena
“For the world, I am Kreena Khandelwal – the owner of a boutique design studio for 8 years, a Mom-preneur but I am simply mother to a 4-year-old, a cancer survivor with no stomach who is still learning how to make life perfect!”
Karishma Bhalla: Founder, Foodstrong
Karishma is one of the founders of Foodstrong, a health food brand dedicated to bringing the joy of eating right to the everyday athlete. The brand emanates from the founder’s passion to create something that is truly healthy and delicious.
Karishma describes herself as an old mom to young kids. After spending a decade and a half in the grunge of the corporate world, she realised that it has taken a huge toll on her mind and body. Between binge eating, stress-laden meals and eating mislabeled junk disguised as healthy food she had set her biological age further by a decade more than where she was. That’s when she co-founded Foodstrong with a vision to make eating healthy easy and accessible for everyone. Foodstrong is made for the everyday athlete, someone who wants to be stronger and live life to the fullest everyday. They have launched two ranges of protein shakes – shakes to be had post any form of workout and shakes to be consumed at 4 pm that help bridge the gap between lunch and dinner.
“I started my business with a close friend of 16 years. We started this business in the middle of the pandemic lockdown and it was challenging to get operational, to say the least, but with a young energetic team and patience on day-long zoom calls we made it through! My leadership style is all about wearing my passion on my sleeve. All of us come into work looking to have fun pushing the boundaries every single day!” says Karishma.
Devashree Sanghvi: Founder, Thecrazyindianfoodie
Devashree Sanghvi is a 26-year-old lawyer and entrepreneur. She runs Thecrazyindianfoodie, one of Mumbai’s leading Food, Travel & Lifestyle blogs with over 360k+ followers across social media and a popular website. She started Thecrazyindianfoodie over 5 years ago when she was a 20-year-old law student with a deep passion for food and travel, exploring places and sharing her experiences with the world.
It started as a mere hobby in a world where bloggers weren’t as many in number as today and influencer marketing was still in its nascent stages. She worked hard, did a lot of research on high-quality content creation and put all her passion into building her blog into what now is a massive community with lakhs of people following and reading her views.
Being a solo woman entrepreneur, the journey wasn’t that easy and she faced a lot of challenges on the way. Not being taken seriously by older male clients, beings deprived of payments for long periods of time, feeling unsafe sometimes while traveling alone on projects, being spoken to in a demeaning way by some who believe women can’t run successful businesses were some of the challenges she faced solely due to her gender.
“However I believed that women have the power to do anything they put their minds to, and with the help of a supportive family, friends and some good people in the industry, I overcame these hurdles and emerged stronger than ever” she said.
Now, she has a small team of both young men and women who work with her in creating amazing content for various F&B, Hospitality, Travel and Lifestyle brands across the world. Her aim is to keep working hard and reach for the stars.
Anupriya Agarwal: Brand Marketer & Social Media Strategist, Maxworth Impact
A Lucknow-born & brought-up girl, Anupriya has made a mark for herself as a Brand Marketer & Social Media Strategist due to her impeccable creative and inquisitive skills. Volunteering and Networking have worked for her in the best manner possible. With an unapologetic fetish for traveling and meeting new people & minds, there’s never a dull moment around her since she has so much to talk about.
Under the aegis of Maxworth Impact, she offers Brand Marketing Strategies particularly Digital Media, Planning, and Execution. She provides content, coordination with the team, building up and training of the members if required to let the brand speak for itself.
Anupriya has always been inquisitive and excited to stay connected to people and the world around her. Right from the year 2010, when she started working in Lucknow till 2019 when she started working as an Independent Consultant, she has too many memories and milestones to share. In her work and life tenure, she has been immensely supported by female mentors, seniors, and women-centric organizations like She The People, Women Economic Forum, Sanatkada, Didis – Sisters in Solidarity to name a few – they have helped her grow as a person and as a professional. She has almost 10 years of experience in various sectors, juggling between Marketing strategies, Digital Media & Social Media Content, Visual content, and peer-to-peer communication and training.
It is always difficult to make people believe an individual and pay them in a manner that justifies all the hard work. First-year was a struggle to manage work alone and also difficult to find clients and projects. However, with self-belief and support from family and colleagues, she was able to sail the boat. As an individual player, it was very critical and necessary for her to stay stable with her own plans and strategies of work. It is a constant battle between what is right and what the world wants you to believe is right.
She has worked and trained a lot of students and young business enthusiasts, particularly girls who are waiting to conquer the world ahead. “In today’s era, I feel, for a Woman Entrepreneur, the sky’s the limit.” she said.
Their ability to adapt to innovations and consistently deliver and transform solutions with practical application is what keeps them going. She has a few young students (girls) as her team interns and she plans to expand further.
To read more Startup Stories on The Business Press visit – https://www.thebusinesspress.in/category/startup-stories/