Sucess Stories:
Her Story Her Way

I think all of us realize that now, and the world is moving towards pay per use model and sharing economy. It makes perfect sense for fashion to be or become an indulgence rather than an investment.   Brief introduction about yourself and tell us something about your e-commerce start-up LibeRent? I’m a metallurgical engineer from PSG tech, Coimbatore, 2013 passed out. Worked in Tata Steel, Jamshedpur and Orissa for a year I quit and started up last year. I was 22 when I started LibeRent. LibeRent is a fashion rental start-up for women. Women can rent outfits (soon accessories and handbags too) for any events from clubbing to a wedding. We, women don’t really like to repeat clothes and get bored of them after wearing maximum 2 or 3 times. And for party wear in particular, who likes to be seen in the same outfit again and again? www.liberent.com provides a solution to this. Now women can just rent at 10-15% of the retail price. This way they can spend the same amount they shop for a month, but they get to wear 30 different outfits. We are soon launching subscription model as well.   What ignited the spark in you to start Liberent.com – the luxury fashion rental? Well, growing up, I have always hoped the next phase in life would be better and things would be different say when I went to college, or when I went to work. But it never was any different. There was always mediocrity and lack of passion all around. I did not and still don’t conform to a lot of things imposed by the society. I was frustrated enough to want to change the world. I wanted freedom. That’s when I realized how little things, like ownership, is constraining us. Maybe you want to travel the world, or become a painter. But we don’t do all that because we own a house, we have EMIs, we own furnitures, etc that we can’t leave here and go. Similarly, we don’t buy all the beautiful outfits we want because, we are limited by time, money or efforts needed. And very few clothes make sense investing in. Although we have abundance of choices in the World, what’s reachable for us is limited. I think all of us realize that now, and the world is moving towards pay per use model and sharing economy. It makes perfect sense for fashion to be or become an indulgence rather than an investment. I wanted to build something for the future and I believe “use and share” is the future. That’s why LibeRent came into existence.   Something about your journey and future goals... My journey has just begun. This one year, since the inception of LibeRent has been the best. I have learnt a lot and matured a lot. But I’m sure I have a long way to go. Future goals, personally I want to become the best version possible of myself – looks, intelligence, money, skills, discipline, power, character, you know the whole spectrum. I sort of want it all. I’m very, very far from that. But definitely determined to get there. LibeRent, the idea has the potential to become the next big thing if executed right. And I’m going to relentlessly pursue to take it there. I’m building a great team and I’m sure they are going to help me every step of the way to make LibeRent a success. Quoting Oscar Wilde: "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."   Did you face any challenges while realizing your professional dream? I don’t have a separate professional dream. I have a dream; of being the best. That involves LibeRent being the best. I have not yet realized the dream. It’s a process and I will never realize the dream. I will always continue to dream and pursue. But so far in this process, I have faced a lot of challenges, just like anyone fighting to make their dream come true. Building a team is always a challenge, particularly when I don’t have money to match the market salary. In fact people with me now are not even taking a salary. To get such passionate people is not easy at all. There are other hurdles but this is the single biggest challenge that is going to define the future of LibeRent and in turn mine.   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? It is harder, yes. The first day I joined a new department at the steel plant, my head remarked he was expecting a male for the role. It might have been a harmless comment, but just shows the inherent perception that society has. Women have to function under a lot of limitations. We pulled off an all-nighter once for LibeRent at my home/office, only to be spoken ill of by neighbors and ended up getting an ear full from my parents (I have to tell here, any woman for whatever reason, has the rights to do what she wants, without having to justify to anyone) . Women can’t socialize as much as my fellow male founders, and establish relationships, as we always have to always have our guard up. But having said that, there is a great opportunity to actually make use of these constraints work for us. For example, this interview- I have not achieved anything yet. But I’m here talking to you because I took the first step. But there are thousands of men who have done what I have, but haven’t got any recognition. Another example, Being a 23 year old, single woman founder, has helped me a lot to convey how passionate I am, to the people I talk with for hiring or for funding. When Life gives lemons we make lemonade.   What piece of advice would you like to give to the aspiring youth who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur? I’m not old enough/ experienced enough to advice anyone. But I have gone through the phase of “wanting to start-up”. I started preparing when I was working- doing the ground work, studying finance, etc. One fine day I just got up and quit. I did not have a plan. I wasn’t “prepared”. My parents are not rich. I have no back up. But I never thought of any of these. I wanted to do it. That’s it. And I jumped into it. And I certainly believe that’s how it works. If we start thinking, we will be able to come up with n number of reasons to not do. So I just didn’t think at all. What is the worst that could happen? As long as we are not going to die, I’m sure it’s safer than not pursuing our dream.   According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? One. Persistence.   How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life? Has the family always been supportive? Until I was in school, my parents used to lock me inside the house while going to work. They were so protective of me and frightened of the world outside. They still are frightened. I had to cry and fight for a year to convince them to let me do this. I have supportive parents, yes. But they are not peaceful now, with me doing this. But they are going to be really proud of me someday. I don’t have a husband or a child. That way I guess it’s a bit easier for me. But I’m going to have a husband and/or a kid someday, and I would still be an entrepreneur. I have the power to make sure I have a supportive family and I’m going to make sure I have one.   What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India? For me women empowerment is not about equality or being able to do what men can. For me, there is no such thing as equality. Each individual gets what they work for. No one deserves anything. Having said that, what we need is the freedom to be able to work for what we want. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between power and family, for example. Just like how men can have both we should also be able to. But the centuries old belief that has now become inherent characteristics of men and women have to change for that. We can’t wait for it happen. Each individual woman has to fight for herself; her freedom; her wants, whatever they might be and go after it. No one else, not even another woman can help her. The meaning of “women empowerment” is certainly ambiguous, but the need for it, is not.