While growing up, I always had a flair for arts & crafts. Admiring colors, textures, patterns and its application in countless forms fascinated me. I even used to sketch and doodle in my school textbooks, and would spent my summer holidays filling sketchbooks. I was more inclined towards fashion arts and design. After graduating from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bengaluru, I worked with top brands in the fashion industry. This phase was extremely crucial in understanding, learning and gaining experience in design field. However, a couple of years, I later realized that the corporate route doesn’t align with my mindset. I took a break for few months and this proved to be a game changer! During this period I got enough time to retrospect and think deeper on my future boulevards. I was convinced to focus my energies and talents on things that I can see myself doing forever, not reliant on anybody else and create my own brand identity. Meanwhile to keep myself engaged during this ‘figuring out’ phase, I took up my paintbrush, colors and started creating fashion illustrations. Illustrations are an extension of your personality, every artist has their own unique style. In mid-2016, started sharing these on social media as an arts blog. I was happy to share something I was passionate about and got engaged with a like-minded community of artists. Although, I absolutely never had any intentions to make this into a business. But as they say, what is meant to be will find a way! So it all happened in July 2017, when a couple approached me to design their wedding invitation with personalized illustrations. Bit hesitant initially, but took up that project and the opportunities came knocking since then! Fashion and Wedding illustrations became my niche. A year full of patience, dedication and consistent efforts led to things ultimately falling in place and with perfect timing!
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdle was the absence of a set plan and where to start from! I always like things in an organized, planned format and during that period everything lacked clarity. Leaving a lucrative corporate job to pursuit something unconventional is not easy. This phase actually taught me the perks of staying in the ‘present’ - looking at the brighter side and finding alternatives which I otherwise would have never taken into consideration. A huge leap of faith was hence taken. I realized those unclear plans were actually a blessing in disguise. The key to start anything is to simply initiate the idea and act upon it. I had spent hours and days creating content and being consistent at sharing them with the community.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I’m more into podcasts and browse through a lot of videos that share valuable knowledge. Rhythm of Living by Matthew Kelly, shares insight on having a life purpose and becoming a better version of ourselves. Also, keep reading and listening to achievers related to your field.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I’ve been extremely grateful for a family who has always been supportive towards my career and aspirations. They are my pillars of strength and I always discuss my goals and plans with them. As far as friends are concerned, again very lucky to have them encourage and cheer me up with my pursuits.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Commitment! When you are in a creative business, far more efforts are required to conceptualize, create and bring up something that wows the client. Every client has a different vision and they chose you to bring their ideas to life. That’s a huge responsibility and opportunity. With a dedicated time for communication, understanding their requirements and delivering within a set time frame was definitely the most influential factor for success. I have always taken the path of quality over quantity, hence helping me add immense value to each and every project. Commitment and Integrity has kept the business sustained and growing! I am so proud of the clients and the collaborators I have worked with. They continue to inspire me with their respect and appreciation for my craft.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
That there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone, no matter how saturated the market seems! You just have to identify your niche and focus on that particular segment instead of trying to do everything under the sun. In the beginning I was a bit apprehensive regarding the demand of handmade, personalized illustrations in the digital era today. But when combined with the demands and understanding its various applications, there surely was a huge market to offer my design services.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Trust your journey! Each day, month and year is shaping and bringing you closer towards the bigger plan! Don’t ever end up comparing your steps with someone else’s. Start building your dreams with whatever you have and wherever you are. Also, your “Vibe Attracts your Tribe” – surround yourself with those who inspire, encourage and believe in you, invest time in books, podcasts, programs that help broaden your thinking, talents and sharpen your ability for higher prospects. Keep a gratitude mindset and work passionately. Take risks, don’t settle for comfort zones!