Success Stories:
Her Story Her Way

WOW Design is a brand consulting and design firm located in Mumbai, specializing in product branding. Deepti Kshirsagar hails from Karanja, a small village near Vashi in Maharastra. Deepti and two of her friends worked together to bring their creative passion to do something fresh and thoughtful.
Here, the full interview.

Where are you basically from and why did you decide to move to Mumbai?
I come from a rooted family from a small village Karanja close to JNPT Uran and have spend my childhood amongst fisher folk. I could only take basic education in Uran and my parents who had very progressive thoughts and made sure we siblings did not only our basic education but follow our passion. Hence I got all the support to take up art education from them though they had to face a lot form the society that we lived in. I used to travel for 2.5 hours to Sophia College by boat for almost a year … post, which I started staying with a relative in Mumbai. Hostel fees of Sophia were out of my parents reach. I made most of the opportunity I got and pursued my design education.

What difficulties did you face while making your dream a reality?
Like every start up which is boot strapped the initial challenge was to go on with out taking back anything at the end of the month for Months. Thankfully I had the place from where we could operate for first 6 months. The challenge for a specialized service offering like us was to get good resource, who is passionate and patient. Challenge was to convince the clients to pay a good price for the specialized service offering to make them understand the difference between advertising and branding. We dealt with some problems with aggression and some with persistence. It had to be a right balance.

So tell us what has been your key learning from your previous jobs?
I took up a job early on while I was still graduating as part-timer. That helped me because by the time I finished my education, I had hands on knowledge. I dabbled with advertising in the beginning but in just few months, i realized that my passion was more in design. I then worked a couple of good design houses and finally joined Yellow. They really helped me to gain a strategic perspective towards branding and Design.

How did you get the idea of starting your own venture – WOW Design
After garnering enough knowledge and experience, it was time that I put it into practice with a freedom to do it in the way I wanted it. Design, especially packaging and retail was evolving in India due to advent of modern retail formats and there were a few players in this segment. It was a good opportunity to enter into the segment with value added offering at a value where we could shape emerging brands and not just the big names. So I started WOW Design from an extra room in my Charni Road home with a laptop along with Sai, and Saswata later and now it is six years old with a team of 38 people.

How difficult is it for a woman to start a company?
It is tough for a woman, because not many people take her seriously, general attitude towards the entrepreneurial venture being, she is just working from home. While starting a company there are a lot of factors like getting all the government documentation in place, getting software licensees, agreements etc.
Another issue is to manage the home front but I think women are born to multitask, rather I believe multi tasker is a word coined for women. I managed to put a good support system in place on the home front soon and i am in deep gratitude today for they make it easy for me to focus on my goal.  

Keeping in mind the social and cultural bondages which generally trim down the freedom, confidence and boldness of women, what steps/programs/policies you would like to suggest for the ladies who want to be successful like you?
We women are raised with a certain mindset and it is made to believe that happy married life should be prime goal in life. We are then reinforced to follow cultural norms that would prepare us to achieve the so called goal set by the society. So even the so called open minded families let their daughters to pursue their education and careers, there are several other factors that a woman is expected to take care of as a priority and manage her other role subsequently. The change in the societal outlook will take; I dun know how long but yes we as Women have to take certain steps ourselves.
One big feeling I have come across in women focusing on their career is the feeling of guilt of not being able to manage the homes perfectly or putting their babies in day care. Its critical that we stop being perfectionists, its ok if the dishes are not done one day or if your MIL(Mother in Law) picks up your son from the daycare cause you are working late. Make sure you discuss the responsibilities towards home and share it with the family, involve them in your career graph but make sure you give them credit. Build a good support system with maids to take care or the chores that would take up your energy and time and use that to spend quality time with your family. Build a support system with the women in your society /neighborhoods who can take care of emergency situations and offer to help them when you have time.
Another important aspect is health and we must take care of it to be able to multitask as many levels. As a part of female health policy, I have put a leave policy for menstrual cycle for women, which are over and above sick leaves. All she needs is to do is bring out the weapons she possess and forge ahead.

Would you like to share your secret success mantra with our readers?
I believe that everyone has to find their own secret Mantra that works. Persistence and grit are the two attributes to be followed consistently apart from not getting deterred by the negative feedback around.
For me the ‘let’s do it tomorrow’ just doesn’t work, it is now or never.

What are your plans for the future?
I see WOW achieving its mission very soon to become one of the top five Strategic branding agencies in India and making its presence felt strongly in the international markets. Apart from that I have plans to work in certain areas to be able to empower the artisans from interiors of India.

Words for IWIL.
I feel IWIL is doing great work for WOMEN and continue doing so. It will be a good thing if it enables or creates platform for women like me to come together and work more constructively for the underprivileged girls to make their dreams a reality