One chapter closes. But another could open.

It’s nearly the end of 2017, and what a year it has been! Besides some major milestones in my life, kick starting this business idea of mine was probably one of the highlights of my year. Not because it has been successful or because I have been able to achieve the goals I set out for it, but because I have learnt so much more about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, I end 2017 closing this chapter of my life, as through my journey I have understood that there are hurdles I unfortunately cannot overcome in the near future. However, this does not mean that it is the end of the road for me and my passion. I am determined to continue iterating and finessing my idea, until one day I have all the resources available to succeed.

Does this mean that all ideas are set to fail at the initial stages? DEFINITELY NOT! Yes, success may not come as fast or as easy as you may want it to or expect, but it DOES NOT mean that all ideas are set to fail. For me, the fact that I had to rely on others to succeed was my downfall. I had the ideas, creativity and the business knowledge, but what I did not have was the skill set to complete the vision. As such, I had to rely on others to be as invested and passionate about the idea as me, and I foolishly thought that this would be easy to come by (maybe because I was so blinded by my determination!).

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

— Winston S. Churchill

Upon reflection, I realised that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, I would have to dedicate all my time, focus and love to my idea. With my life situation and commitments, it is not something that I would be able to commit to. So instead of launching a half baked brand and line that I was not proud of, I decided to count my losses and close the cover, to be reopened at another point in time.

For those of you who have supported me on my journey so far and have sent your kind thoughts and comments, thank you so very much! The well wishes and support I have received from strangers all around the world has been incredibly heart warming. I’ll be sure to keep blogging about all the new and crazy ideas I come up with along the way, so make sure you stay tuned!

Until next time..

Krithi

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The beauty behind South Asian clothing.

For those of you who have been following my previous blog posts know, I have been on a journey over the last 8 months in establishing the building blocks for my South Asian clothing label. As part of this venture, I began my own Instagram account @krithimohan, hoping to utilise this platform to showcase my unique sense of style and design. It was humbling to have people from all around the world like and appreciate my take on traditional clothing, but what was even more amazing was having my posts catch the attention of an international brand such as Unnati Silks , who wanted to collaborate and allow me to bring to life their brand in my own creative way.

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For those of you who may not of heard of Unnati Silks before, they are a global company who have over 3 decades experience in silk and cotton textiles. “Handlooms for women” is their motto, creating beautiful handwoven and handcrafted South Asian clothing, which is unique to each of their customers. One of the things that I was most thrilled about when they sent me their ‘Pochampally kalamkari’ cotton saree, was that they chose a design that was so suited to my individuality.

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The true beauty behind South Asian clothing is the rich heritage that comes with each garment. This one you see me wearing in these pictures for example is from the Pochampally region in India, who are known for their sarees that are blended with both silk and cotton. The weavers of this saree go through painstaking efforts to maintain the purity of the dyeing and weaving, known as the  ‘Ikkat’ technique, to create the beautiful Kalamkari pattern. The traditional simplicity, elaborate themes, sharp detailing and attractive motifs in a host of bright hues is contrasted by the dark body of the saree, allowing not only for a colourful and eye-catching contrast, but the efforts of the garment weavers to be truly appreciated.

Knowing such information behind a garment truly does make you feel as though you are wearing a piece of artwork. Knowing the time and effort that it took for someone to create the garment also makes you appreciate it more, and I am thankful to Unnati Silks for opening my eyes up to the beautiful heritage behind their South Asian clothing. I hope that one day, I am also able to tell a similar story to my customers, allowing them to appreciate every thread of the garment they wear.

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I must admit, cotton sarees are not normally my fabric of choice, as I find the material to be too stiff and to not really suit my body frame. However, with this saree I may just be converted! Due to the mix of silk and cotton, the saree was lightweight and so easy to drape, allowing me to complement my figure, rather than working against it. For those of you who are looking for beautiful garments for any occasion, I have left the links to Unnati Silks below so you can check them out for yourself! Any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out!

https://www.unnatisilks.com/

https://www.unnatisilks.com/sarees-online.html

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Krithi

The glass is always half full – It’s just how you perceive it.

I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps lately. This often happens when I don’t feel mentally stimulated, or when progress isn’t happening as I expect. My mind goes into tangents of “What is it that i want out of life?”, “Why have I not achieved what I thought I would have by now?”, “Why are other people my age so much more successful than me?”. At times like these, I always see the glass as being half empty, reminding me of all I think is wrong with my life. I begin to go into “self pity” mode for a few days, and then it hits me. What the hell is wrong with you?

In a life where I have a roof over my head, a job that pays me to be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and incredible people surrounding me, what have I to be unhappy for? There are people out there who are struggling to make ends meet, living on the streets or being persecuted, and here I am wallowing in self pity because my life isn’t going exactly as I had planned. How embarrassing.

But it got me thinking, why are we conditioned to think like this when something isn’t going our way? We all take chances and risks in life knowing that it may not turn out how we want or expect, so when it does happen and we find ourselves at ground zero, why do we pull ourselves even further underground?

The simple answer is that it is human nature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condition our mind to think differently. Negativity stimulates even more negativity, and it becomes a never ending cycle. Without you even knowing, you can begin to exude this aura onto others, and bring those around you down as well. Not a great vibe. So how is it you condition your mind to think of the positive side of life in moments of self doubt and self pity?

“The Mind is everything. What you think, you become” – Buddha

Disclaimer: I am no psychologist. But I thought I would give you some insights into how I try and pull myself out of such moments, as I’m sure many of you reading this have experienced this feeling, or are going through this right now.

  1. During moments of self pity, stop and reflect. Why is it that you are feeling this way, and what stimulated it? What can you do to make the situation better? Is it really that bad that you need to feel sorry for yourself, or are there other avenues that can be explored?
  2. Be more conscious of the language that you use, whether it be around family or friends, in the workplace, around your business partner or colleagues. Is it riddled with negativity? If so, stop. Try and change the language you use to evoke positivity & strength. Just because you are going through a funk, doesn’t mean you have to bring others around you down also.
  3. Try and set goals or make plans to look forward to each week. This may be finishing off a drawing for your fashion line, making more progress on your website, planning a weekend away with the family or just something simple like a movie you want to see. Having something to look forward to always makes the mind more positive, focusing on the plans ahead rather than wallowing in the current negativity.

If you look at it in the right way, the glass is always half full. The emptiness doesn’t represent what you don’t have or what you are missing in life, but what you have already achieved and the things you have yet to look forward to.

I know it is easier said than done, but just try the above tips and see how you go. I guarantee you, a shift in mindset will make you more happy overall.

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The Positive Power of Social Media

You often read articles about how social media is important for any new business venture, as a means to engage with an audience and increase brand awareness. But what they don’t tell you is the amazing and positive people it can connect you with from all around the world, who encourage and motivate you to achieve your dreams, despite not knowing you or having met you before.

Similar to many other entrepreneurs, I began to interact with my social media account (Instagram – @krithimohan) more actively as a way to showcase my creativity and style, and appeal to those who were interested in South Asian clothing. (Recap: For those who have not read my previous blog posts, I am on a journey of establishing my own South Asian clothing label). Although this was an important step for me to build my brand and profile, I knew I was going to be faced with negative comments about being vain or just after fame from those around me.

As expected, unnecessary and sometimes unkind comments were subtly made about my photographs, but what far outweighed this negativity was the positive sentiments I received from family and friends, who were rooting for me to succeed. What REALLY surprised me though was the support I began to receive from people all around the world, who were reading my posts/following my social media journey, and could relate.

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Messages and comments started to fill my inbox from people who were on similar journeys, who shared their experiences on challenges they faced in reaching their destination, and who encouraged me to continue persevering. From hearing about their stories of past successes and failures, I was able to draw inspiration from their strength and determination in building their brand, as well as gain a new perspective on how to harness social media.

The global community is truly amazing when you find like minded people who build each other up, instead of tearing each other down. What started as a way to increase social media presence through my photographs turned into something so much more than that. If you are a person who uses social media and find someone who you can relate to or can empathise with, drop them a note and share with them your experiences. I guarantee you 9 times out of 10 they will find your insights incredibly valuable, because I sure know I do!

There really is an incredible POSITIVE POWER TO SOCIAL MEDIA. 

 

Work-Life balance. Easier said than done!

Man, this work-life balance thing is hard!

I thought I was pretty on top of it. I have a routine going Monday to Friday which I hardly ever deviate from:

5:00/5:30am: wake up and go to the gym

8:30am – 6:30pm: Work

7:00pm – 10:00pm: Dinner/ watch reality TV/ wind down from the busy day

Sleep & Repeat. 

So when I started working on creating my South Asian clothing label on the side, I thought I would be able to fit all the necessary activities into the 3 hour window I had set aside for personal time after work.

In my mind it was going to be fine. I was going to be so efficient, smashing through things such as working on my website, sourcing fabrics, finding tailors, creating new designs etc. etc. However, my progress has not been as efficient as I had hoped. Simply because of one thing.

Maintaining a healthy work life balance is not easy!

Some days when I come home after work, I am utterly exhausted. Staring at a computer screen all day as part of my job means that a lot of the time, I really don’t want to look at one for another 3 hours when I come home. I do not have the luxury at the moment (given my life stage) to be able to deprioritise my career, which means that I just have to find a way to make it work! I came to the conclusion after reviewing all the activities in the backlog that I was being way too ambitious with what I could achieve, and by when.

Lesson? Set practical and realistic timelines.

There is always going to be a million things to do when starting your own business, but trying to achieve everything in a short amount of time is not always the best option. Here are my tips on how to manage a healthy work life balance:

1. Rank activities in order of importance

What needs to be done in the immediate term? Are there any decisions that need to be made that could potentially have flow on impacts to other activities? Make sure you address these first.

E.g. In my situation, it was sourcing the fabrics. Not having these meant that it would impact the garments being made – the main product for my business! I also understood that only after receiving samples could I commit to the MOQ, so had to factor in more of a buffer due to the back and forth this entailed. As such, I began to prioritise sourcing this.

2. Don’t expect to work on your business every day – and that’s ok!

When I first started out, nights where I would not be working on my business would be filled with guilt. Am I not as committed as I thought I was? Is my motivation going to slip if I am not focusing on it every day?

Definitely not. You don’t want your passion to become a chore, so if that means having to take a break for a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks, do it! Every time you work on your business should be filled with excitement, so if this is not something you are experiencing, then it may be time to take a step away, gather yourself, and return with full gusto.

3. Life always comes first

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critically important. Lack of sleep or nourishment in my mind is just not worth it. It leads to unhappiness, loss of focus and contributes to a general loss in quality of life. If this is what you are experiencing day in and day out with starting up  your own business, then I would strongly advise that you go back to the drawing board and revise your expected timelines.

Sure, a late night/early morning and less than optimal hours of sleep once in a while may feature every now and then, but it should not become the norm. It is not sustainable, and is not helpful in maintaining a good work life balance. A healthy you, means a healthy vision, which means a healthy business!

However, I recognise that all of this is easier said than done. However, in order to ensure that my journey is sustainable, I have started to make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy work life balance, and I encourage you to as well!

Krithi

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Be unashamed about your dedication.

Reaching the final destination is never an easy journey, and requires a LOT of dedication and determination. This dedication will often require some trade offs, whether it be personal, professional or social, and only YOU will truly understand the importance behind this. Others might mock you, question you or try and make you sway from the path you have set out for yourself, but stick true to your vision and BE UNASHAMED ABOUT YOUR DEDICATION.

In my journey so far, there are two key attributes that have required me to make some trade offs: Finances and Time. However for this post, I will focus on the most pertinent of the two, which is finances.

Finances: Like most people, there are regular bills that need to be paid, families that need to be supported and costs involved with lifetime events that take a toll on personal finances. In my situation, I am trying to balance regular household expenses in addition to budgeting for my wedding next year, and as such the disposable income available for discretionary spending and that which I can put toward my business venture is limited.

What does this mean? Trade-offs. Given all the things in my life that require a financial investment, it is not practical for me to go out to lunch or dinner as often as my peers. I used to struggle with having to constantly decline social events and having to tell people that I couldn’t afford it, as I was often faced with the response of “But you are young – YOLO”. Those that are not in my position found it hard to understand why I was unable to attend such events when I have a full time job with a steady income and no dependents. I also found it embarrassing to tell people at my age that I couldn’t afford certain things, as everyone else around me seemed to be willing and happy to spend money on such occasions regularly.

“Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated”.

What I learnt over time however is that this is NOT something I should be ashamed of, and that I didn’t need to justify my circumstances to others. Only YOU are in control of your journey. Although others may not understand your choices, these trade-offs are essential to arrive at your final destination. Do not succumb to peer pressure or live your life like others believe you should. You are the only one who will truly understand the reasoning behind your choices, so continue to stick true to your vision and BE UNASHAMED ABOUT YOUR DEDICATION. 

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Back at Square 1.

So my plan didn’t work.

Recap: I came to India to find suppliers for the South Asian fashion label I am looking to build (amongst also shopping for my wedding!) and it hasn’t gone to plan. Not going to lie, it’s a bit of a a bummer. So now I am back to square one.

Why? Here’s the reason.

I’m a little bit of a control freak. But when starting out your  own business, I think it is vital that you are across all the details. Although there are some great tailors in India who are incredibly talented at what they do, and there is an abundance of beautiful fabrics available, using vendors here would mean that I would have to leave all the logistics solely in the hands of someone else. Having to fully trust someone you have just me to liaise with the fabric supplier to deliver the materials, then have the tailor stitch the garment, then have someone deliver it to the post office to ship to the right address just seemed too complex.

You might be thinking – surely you thought of this before Krithi. Yes, I did, but I honestly thought it would be a lot easier than in reality. Lines of communication here aren’t as clear as they are back home, and the inability to track what is going on from a foreign location made me incredibly nervous. Prior to the item being sent, I want to make sure that the quality of tailoring and fabric is as I expect. This was something I did not necessarily consider when devising the plan in Australia, however seeing first hand the differences in workmanship between various tailors, it became crystal clear that I would have to have a close watch over the garments I want to sell to my customers, until I found a tailor I could trust 100%.

The costs are also not as low as I expected. Sure, the tailoring costs (i.e. labour) is a lot better in India, however the cost of the fabrics are relatively the same as Australia. What I would be missing however is the beautiful and traditional South Asian patterns that aren’t as readily available.

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So what now? I keep going. My approach now is to find the materials I want from suppliers all over the world, and find a local tailor who would be able to provide the level of workmanship I require. As I am able to stay in control of all the logistics, I am a lot more comfortable with this approach, even though the margins may be compromised. Now more than ever, I understand when entrepreneurs say that in starting a business, you shouldn’t aim to make a large profit in the short run. Establishing a reliable and trustworthy brand is most important in the short term, and everything else will follow after.

All these setbacks have not been easy, but I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who continually encourage me to remain motivated and strive to achieve the goal I have set for myself.

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with people who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself”

Krithi