Gone are the days when women just used to be homemakers; they are money-makers too. Women are now dominating the business sectors which were traditionally male oriented. Numerous opportunities are opening up for women who wish to set out on a new career path. In many cases women have outperformed their male counterparts and have shown remarkable leadership skills. In industries like the fashion sector including apparel, accessories, lifestyle or beauty, the women continue to dominate. Rising Kashmir spoke to women entrepreneurs who decided to pursue their passion and are running successful enterprises.Tooba Banday (24), the owner of Lakme Salon - one of the leading chains of beauty salons in India - enjoys her business set up in Kashmir.
The salon is one of a kind in Kashmir which is known for hair, makeup and excellent skin services.
The owner is currently pursuing MBA from the University of Murcia.
Tooba chose Lakme because as a brand it is already a trusted name in the market and assures quality and expertise at the same time.
“I have been associated with the Lakme franchise since 2019 but have been functional since October last year,” said Tooba.
Tooba has faced many challenges which have led to an environment of immense difficulty for her business to run smoothly.“As we all know, Kashmir’s climate is extremely harsh in winter,” said Tooba. “There are unexpected problems with regards to electricity and water, making everything time consuming and tougher.”
But Tooba has managed to overcome the problems she faced due to the most unexpected shutdowns.
The franchisor has been the greatest support to her. Moreover, the Lakme Fashion Week organised by the franchisor is a constant motivating factor for all the employees throughout.
“Since the very beginning, the franchisor has been supporting me. They provided on-job training to all the employees who kept them motivated and showed a keen interest in their progress,” said Tooba.
The working hours for the Salon are 10 am to 7 pm which makes it 63 hours a week.
The salon uses products which are skin and hair friendly.
“We use international brands that are dermatologically tested, formaldehyde-free and not harsh for the skin or hair,” said Tooba.
She said her family has always supported her and trusted her enough to keep faith in all of her decisions.
Khushbakht Ajaz (26), MBA graduate from London owns a business venture by the name Aura-KB which deals with fashion accessories including customized jewellery both casual and bridal, customized handcrafted clutches and juttis.
She started her venture two years back as she always wanted to cultivate her own brand, business and a name for herself.
The ability to sell online has helped numerous businesses run by women to get access to a new set of customers with minimal investment.
Khushbakht has chosen fashion accessories as her business as no one was dealing with fashion accessories and she thought it could be her USP.
“I chose accessories because women are very fond of accessories,” she said. “Women would get the best of clothes but no accessory to accentuate the look and that’s how I thought of starting a fashion accessory business.”
Khushbakht decided to turn her passion into business and bring something that was much needed in the market.
“I remember shopping everything from Delhi whenever there was any wedding in the family and so would be the case with my cousins and friends,” she said.
She said, “They would either buy from outside Kashmir or try to order from other sites online but they would either be disappointed with delay or no delivery at all.”
Khushbakht’s business venture has also gone through a lot of challenges.
“It’s been only 2 years since I started this venture but the major struggle since then has been dealing with uncertain conditions,” she said. “I started in 2019 and soon after there was Abrogation of Article 370 which led to internet shutdown for months which was later followed by the pandemic.”
Khushbakht believes all this has impacted the business and its outcome negatively.
“Covid lockdown has badly hit the business because I mostly deal with wedding related accessories and due to the pandemic, the weddings have got cancelled/postponed and there are unexpected lockdowns too,” said Khushbakht.
Khushbakht’s brand's prime focus has been delivering quality products and customer satisfaction.
“I am looking forward to diversifying my business as much as possible and bringing out the best to my clients,” she said.
She said the two year journey has been a great learning experience for her and has boosted her overall growth and creativity.
“Being a woman, I feel it’s extremely important to be financially independent and create your own identity. We have so much potential and talent to untap and harness,” said Khushbakht.
Nida Feroze Balti (30) a civil engineer turned entrepreneur owns an online designer store, known as Mokh'te by Nida, wherein she provides comfortable designer wear juttis and traditional/ethnic wear.
Mokh’te by Nida deals with expertly hand embroidered juttis with threads and beads and all kinds of traditional wear outfits purely customized by her.
Nida started her business in July last year and currently they provide free delivery across Srinagar, while in other parts of Jammu and Kashmir, they have set minimal shipping charges.
She has been passionate about designing since she was a child and always wanted to start her own designing store.
“Firstly, I started with customizing jutti's, then pherans and now I design all customized outfits,” said Nida.
Nida believes being an online dealer doesn't let people trust you easily as they want to see all the products before buying them.
“It is not easy to maintain the standard of your business; you need to be patient as you have to deal with different kinds of people. Online business seems quite easy but in reality it is totally different,” said Nida.
Nida is a mother of a 3-year old girl and as such she has to hustle between her business, household and taking care of her daughter.
“I need to give proper time to my toddler, so sometimes guilt comes if I get busy with my business commitments,” said Nida.
She said, “Due to the ongoing pandemic the overall response has gone down.”
“Buying stuff, making, customizing and delivering all takes time,” said Nida.
She said, “All the time you have to be on your toes and given this pandemic time you have to follow the precautions. You need to sanitize the packaging and have to make sure the delivery is hassle free.”
Nida said she is trying her best to expand her business venture.