Sucess Stories:
Her Story Her Way

“The broad brush strokes of starting a business involve everything from setting up the legal framework, to vendor negotiations and creating the supply chain to marketing the product and creating a brand.”   Brief introduction about yourself and tell us something about Chicapica? I am Kavita Suri, the owner of Chicapica which is a silver jewelry brand with an ‘online-first’ approach. I have been born and brought up in Delhi. After completing my graduation in Economics, I started working with one of the leading management consulting firms in India. I am fond of travelling and as part of my job I have lived in many parts of India and spent about two years in Costa Rica. Chicapica is a jewelry brand for the wonder woman shuttling between many roles. Our endeavor is to capture unique inspirations from all around and bring an exquisite range of jewelry at your doorstep, with just a few clicks. We understand that a woman has to play many roles and is usually left with very limited time for herself. We wanted to make it easier for her to get the best in jewelry from the comfort of her house and at a time convenient to her.   What ignited the spark in you to start Chicapica? I love to try out new things, to constantly challenge myself hence I am always on the lookout for something new. Be it moving half way across the world and working in a country, where everything is new to you, from language to food to culture or starting my own venture. After spending close to 8 years in the corporate life, I felt it was time for me to move to something completely different. As e-commerce is growing in India, I thought I should try my hand at it. As jewelry is still an untapped segment, I wanted to explore this space. I have always loved silver jewelry and personally prefer it over gold. I used to look for new shops and markets to buy silver jewelry to match my ever-growing wardrobe. When this idea came up, I started searching for more information on the online jewelry market in India and realized that there aren’t many options that cater exclusively to the silver jewelry segment. That’s when I first thought about pursing this niche.   Please share your future goals. As Chicapica is still a young and growing brand, our focus is to increase our presence across India. We want Chicapica to be the first thing that comes to mind when someone is thinking about silver jewelry. We would also like to launch our website soon while maintaining the close connect that we currently share with all our clients.   Something about the challenges you faced while starting Chicapica. I did not have any business experience before launching Chicapica and no one in my family has ever been in business. So for me it was learning on the job. The broad brush strokes of starting a business involve everything from setting up the legal framework, to vendor negotiations and creating the supply chain to marketing the product and creating a brand. These were all new fields of work for me and I had to acquire new skills like never before.   What are your views on the thought, that as compared to male counterparts, it’s harder and more struggling for females to make a mark professionally? I got the opportunity to work at a place where I never felt there is or was a distinction in work done by males and females. Each individual was rewarded for his or her effort. I don’t think I can work at a place where I am discriminated against for any reason. However given the multi-faceted life that a woman is expected to lead in a country like India, it is definitely harder for women to make a mark professionally. A woman working five days a week for 8-9 hours a day is still expected to cook food and raise children. A lot of support is needed at the work place and at home to ensure that women in India get the right environment to grow in.   What piece of advice would you like to give to the aspiring youth who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur? Do think about your decision and be sure about it. Do the research needed to validate your idea. And finally ask questions, as many as you can, to people who have started their own business or are running a successful business. Ask for help, you are most likely to get it! For people who are really interested in entrepreneurship but are debating the idea in their head, I'd like to say that you will never regret it. You will develop a much more holistic set of skills that no job can ever give you. Furthermore, being your own boss has a thrill of its own.   According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  1. Multi-tasking: As a new entrepreneur, working with limited investment, you do not have the luxury of spending money to get the most suitable talent to work with you. You should have an open mindset and the willingness to work on things that you have no prior knowledge of. Also it is essential to know what each work stream demands so that you know exactly what type of skills are needed to get the job done.
  2. Creativity: You need to be extremely resourceful when it comes to running your own business. From being open to exploring new ideas, to using creative methods to sell your product or to promote your brand. Don’t be shy to tap into your network of friends and family to utilize their expertise, be it marketing or programming or simply asking them to buy your product.
  3. Perseverance: This is most essential on days when there are no sales, no phone calls, when you start doubting your idea, when you think this is not sustainable anymore. The only thing that will make you move on is self-motivation and perseverance.

  Is it easy to maintain the work-life balance? I think it depends from individual to individual how one defines work-life balance. As an entrepreneur, I am always thinking about my work. While I am out with friends, watching a movie or sitting on my couch and watching television. I love my work and I am willing to work long hours or work over weekends. In fact my work mostly demands working on weekends or holidays as that’s the time when people are most likely to shop. It is fine if your work-life balance is skewed towards work as long as you are enjoying what you are doing. It should not feel like a burden. Having said that I do think it is important to take some personal time out to refresh your thoughts, clear your mind and relax.   What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India? I have been fortunate to be born in urban India where I had access to education and was raised by parents who believed in gender equality. For example my mother worked with an Indian bank and retired at the age of 60. However that is not true for most of India. The expectation from the average woman is to be just a home maker. Countless classmates from my school and college, who were exceptional students, are not working. We need to promote the idea that being a home maker is not necessarily the most fulfilling life decision. And if a woman wants to be one, it should be a choice that she makes and not something that is being forced upon her. Increasingly in the west, people are embracing the idea that managing a household is the joint responsibility of the man and the woman both (and not just the woman’s). I look forward to that day when such ideals are more widely embraced in India. I would highly recommend the book Lean In, written by Sheryl Sandberg who is the COO of Facebook and a big advocate of women’s participation in the workforce. Many MNC’s have started thinking and talking about women representation in more senior roles and developing programs to support them. Indian companies should also take this up and come up with flexible programs to ensure that women have the right environment to work in so that they are able to grow and take up more senior/ managerial roles.