It isn’t often that you come across stories that are told by distinguished individuals with complete honesty. Here’s a story that is told from the heart on failures, success and dealing with life with equal enthusiasm no matter what life throws at you. She is a seasoned entrepreneur who has seen the ups and downs of a recognizable brand in the city.
Meet Kalpana Rao of Pari’s Haute Couture and Pari’s M2B. Pari’s Haute Couture specializes in ethnic women’s wear catering to the niche segment of pear shaped women. Pari’s M2B specializes in Indianised maternity and nursing wear.
Kalpana shares with Mums and stories her journey on the entrepreneurship wave, her bond with her children and what she aspires in life.
“I was an unsatisfied banker who was unsure of the source of unhappiness. An accidental exposure to sales and the consequent love developed towards entrepreneurship, led me to leave the bank job and move to Bangalore to fulfill the entrepreneurship itch. I found a lovely little place in Indiranagar and set up our store Pari’s in July 1995.
My husband and me nurtured and grew the business from 1995-2006. His call for the spiritual was very strong and in 2007 he moved out of the business. Now my son and I run the business together. My husband was and still is my mentor and guru and the biggest strength of my life. Whatever I am, I am because of him.
Passion for my work and customer service has been at the core of the business and I have always believed in doing the business ethically. Over a period of time we grew to 3 stores and then due to various reasons we moved out from all 3 locations. We have now consolidated to a single store at Cambridge Road, Ulsoor and have an online presence too.
Life of an entrepreneur is not easy and there are too many ups and downs, more downs than ups! Certain decisions which turned bad and the recession of 2008 brought about more difficulties. To cut some of the debts and to give ourselves the capital to carry on, we took the decision to sell our home and pledged the jewelry too.
The financial struggles were so much that at one point of time from a rising brand we moved to being nearly bankrupt. But now with the grace of God we are on our way to being back on track again.
I have tremendous support from my two children, Aditya is the older one and is my right hand in the business, Aparajita my daughter, has graced the business with her pet name Pari.
Pari, my daughter also plays a very big part in the business though works in Singapore. With the knowledge gained from her studies she is helping me plan the business on its growth path, she is also the brand ambassadress and wears and promotes our brand in Singapore.
My life has been an open book and I share my story quite easily hoping reading it may give strength to another to carry on and may inspire too. My daughter at a very young age had expressed a desire to study abroad. Having difficulties does not mean you kill the dream of your children. In spite of the financial difficulties we supported her and sent her abroad. Somehow we managed to pay her fees and expenses for two years and then hit a roadblock.
Pari had to take matters in her hand and started a crowd funding campaign to fund her education. Her campaign was picked up by the media and that brought all our troubles in the limelight. It is very true that you will know your true friends by how they treat you in your difficult times. We had scores of people wanting to hear the story, but very few came forward for helping. We continued with our work towards our campaign, even though one meets more detractors than anyone else.
To share about this is very difficult for me, but I know many parents go through this phase and if our story of difficulty and success can give strength or inspiration then the pain of sharing is worth it.
I have always been working and have never been at home to take care of the children, I used to feel guilty no doubt, but it was my choice to be out working. The children from 7th std onwards started coming to the store in summer vacations to just help out and be with me.
This brought us closer, especially where Pari was concerned; she used to feel that I did not care for her much. Those months spent at the store together brought us very close and we bonded well that we became friends than mother-daughter.
Aditya finally joined in the business and the young blood has come with fresh perspective and ideas which are helping us climb out of the difficult phase. We are now again getting recognition for being a strong brand.
To follow ones passion there is no age bar and I truly believe that in life we should follow our passions. Besides my business I had always wanted to act and give motivational talks. I got the opportunity to act after the age of 51.
I have done couple of ad films and have also acted in a mini web series. For sharing my entrepreneurial journey I had over the years gone to various colleges, but only after the age of 51, I got paid for it. The additional income also helped in running the household.
The strength that I have gained over the years I share with my customers too. With most of them I share a very good bond like that of an extended family and on many occasions they come to just talk.
They just need an unbiased listener and share the issues they are facing in life. I cannot solve their issues as they have to work on them themselves. What I do is that I pass on my strength to motivate them. I do not have all the solutions to the problems faced, but I can share my example and hope that it can somehow influence in a positive light. I even share health issues and how I learnt to overcome and live with it.
I have been suffering from sciatica since 2008 and it did pull me down for a while, but over time I learnt to manage it and go on with life. I am a fighter not a person who gives up! And if I give up on any matter, what example am I setting for my children?”
Mums and stories wishes this gutsy, inspiring entrepreneur-mum all the success in life.