It's 2021 and I'm still addressed as a ‘woman’ entrepreneur.
Initially, it was uplifting and encouraging, but soon I grew out of it. I would prefer being called an 'entrepreneur' without associating my gender with it because we don’t do the same for a male entrepreneur; it implies a difference between both genders.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because I realized that there should be something more to my life and job and that one’s life cannot lie between the 9-5 office hours.
I felt like I should bring happiness or joy to people at a personal level and make an effort to contribute to our society and its people in some way. This epiphany came to me when Covid-19 was at its peak.
The fact that I had no background in the business I started and no guide or backup made people think they could swindle me. This was the most prominent stigma I had to face. As a married woman, I felt like some of my family members were disappointed when I left a stable job and restarted from scratch without a backup. I was able to change this once the brand reached its height of success.
In terms of expectations, especially where a family and relationship is concerned - the woman is expected to take care of everything together. At the same time, a man is not expected to take care of the relationships when he’s set on his career's path in life. This needs to shift; either have the same expectations from both genders or have no expectations at all.
The Annutra team seeks to deliver value with each product that has a deeper meaning attached to it. It takes painstaking hours to create each piece that is first designed and then intricately handcrafted, making each piece unique. At Annutra, we wish to reduce wastage and aim to effectively and efficiently use our resources, which is in line with our belief in 'slow and sustainable fashion'. As a result, we often make limited pieces of a design.
In support of the 'Make in India' regime, we have ensured that local artisans are involved who hand makes each piece with love, care, and arduous amounts of time. Jewelry is about beauty, and Annutra is about embracing the beauty inside. It is about bringing positive reinforcement while fashionably accessorising yourself.
From finding the right business partners to brand positioning, everything seems like an obstacle initially. As a first-time entrepreneur, the biggest struggle is to not easily waver and be agile at the same time. Looking at competition do certain things, you sometimes get influenced. There are a lot of obstacles that we end up creating for ourselves, right from procrastination, self-doubt to diffidence. But, I have been lucky enough to be supported by pretty much everyone, from my family to friends to my relatives. Especially my husband, who kept encouraging me to take the initiative and start my brand. If it were not for him, Annutra wouldn’t have even started.
For me, time management and communication are of utmost importance. I try to plan and execute tasks on a daily basis. I indeed take advantage of the modern technology and applications that help me organize and plan everything. Of course, it is still difficult to manage operations, designing, and logistics, but the software is in place to help me stay on top of things so that action can be taken as and when required.
Something that inspires us a lot is when a customer buys a product and gives constructive and positive feedback or when a customer returns to repurchase something. It makes us feel that what we are doing is good and we are on the right track, which inspires us to do better every day.