It’s that time of the year as we come together to worship Ma Durga and her power that saved the gods from the ashuras. And so, time to empower women, too.
Acropolis, India’s premier mall, recently unveiled Blooming Kolkata, an initiative to promote first-generation women entrepreneurs in their efforts to tread the difficult terrain of entrepreneurship. Merlin Group, developer of Acropolis, has organised a two-day exhibition for budding female entrepreneurs at the mall to give them direct exposure to the market before the festival season begins.
At a formal function at Acropolis, Debasish Sen, additional chief secretary, IT&E department, Government of West Bengal, and chairman, HIDCO, inaugurated the exhibition in the presence of Saket Mohta, MD, Merlin Group.
Commenting on the initiative, Debasish Sen said, “The government is looking at innovative ways to create a safe ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. Crèches, video analytics and roadside coffee bars are being designed in New Town.”
Commenting on the initiative, Mohta said, “Blooming Kolkata is an innovative initiative conceptualised and organised by Acropolis Mall to promote first-generation women entrepreneurs and provide them with a direct market link. We hope that it’ll empower the entrepreneurs and motivate them to fly high and enrich the start-up ecosystem.”
Event to host workshops, exhibitions & more
Christened Blooming Kolkata, 2019, the all-women start-up exhibition is an initiative to provide a platform to women start-ups to exhibit their products and sell directly to consumers who come shopping at the mall before the Pujas. Acropolis has provided steady support to create high-end brand images of these entrepreneurs. The initiative is aimed at celebrating the spirit of women entrepreneurship through deliberations, exhibitions, workshops, discussions and beauty contests, at which aspiring models will flaunt costumes and jewellery of the participating brands and walk the ramp.
According to a recent study, women-led companies have performed 63% better than their male counterparts in terms of return on investment (RoI), with women showing unparalleled willingness and capacity to organise, develop and manage business ventures in the past 10 years.
A few participants & their journeys
Aparna Dhar (63) is a first-generation entrepreneur for whom age is just a number. A proud mother of two well settled sons working in such multinationals as Google and Hand-in-Hand, Aparna ventured to set up Mom’s Touch in a small way five years ago. What’s unique about her is that she innovates, ideates, designs and makes all the products herself. Her enterprise, Mom’s Touch, is known for its home-made items — crochet handbags, necklaces, earrings, bangles, rings and other home-made decorations. She also designs quilling earrings and organic soaps full of natural ingredients, such as neem, tulsi, haldi, aloe vera, lavender and charcoal. Her product range also includes chocolates. All the products prepared are in their pure form without any toxic additives. A theatre artist, Aparna has devoted her life to the service of the children of a lesser God. She works for Nabadiganta, Voice of the World. Her philosophy in life is, ‘Help us to help you more and more’, which inspires her to pursue her dream.
Deblina Saha (28) is an entrepreneur who founded the Human Library in Kolkata in 2018. Human Library is a Denmark-based non-profit organisation with presence in over 80 countries. A resolute woman in her late-20s and a single mother of a three-year-old, Deblina is a senior marketing and communications executive by profession and a well-being consultant and counsellor. She is also the founder of Lina Made home-made chocolates. Her offerings include a range of specialised chocolates to pamper consumers. A fighter with a positive outlook, Deblina always sees the positive side of life, even in its darkest phase. As a founder of the Kolkata chapter of Human Library, Deblina wants to include everybody in the joyous celebration of life. Human Library is all about breaking stereotypes and changing mindsets, which Deblina is proactively advocating.
Trishita Banerjee plunged into the world of entrepreneurship with her creation, Kraftastic, in 2013. She started her career in administration after completing her graduation in 2011. Ironically, God had something else in store for her. She was afflicted with an auto-immune disorder, called Thrombocytopenia, which slowly kills platelets. She has undergone treatment to survive, but continuous steroid treatment has caused her lower portion to become paralytic. She had to leave her job and went into a depression. But her indomitable spirit helped her come out with flying colours and her new venture Kraftastic was born. A painter and designer by passion, Trishita, initially, started her entrepreneurial journey by making handmade cards, wall-hangings and photo-frames and gradually added jewellery and gift items to her collection. She has been a regular participant in the Kolkata State Handicrafts Expo since 2017. She has participated in several other exhibitions, too. As her Kraftastic started rolling, there was no looking back. She thanks Blooming Kolkata for giving her an opportunity to take part.
Piyali Chakraborty, founder of Magic Potions, a natural, hand-made skin and hair-care brand, is a former employee in the corporate sector who left her high-flying job after she faced a high-risk pregnancy. She is passionate about hand-made products, which gave birth to Magic Potions. Magic Potions offerings include hand-made skin and hair-care products beneficial for skin and hair health.
Crystal Fang is a teacher and feels the urge to do something new in every phase of life. Her long-cherished dream had been to start something of her own. With her deep passion for fashion and style, she wanted to deal with something essential to a woman’s wardrobe. And so, the journey of Style Trousseau began.
The brand deals with handbags, purses, clutches, slings and everything under the umbrella of our well loved ‘arm-friends’. Although the company is still in its formative months and she has a lot to learn and much to achieve in this new field, she has received immense support from friends and family to brave the struggles and shortcomings and hopes to touch new horizons soon.
Shradha’s journey began with self-motivation, her family’s support and a handful of resources. Then, she catered to a few customers who appreciated her work. People with the need for attire on special days spurred her growth story, and she has never had to look back. She has encountered a few naysayers, who tried to pull her down, but, luckily, there were more people who were by her side. She wants to thank all those who have been there and supported her, because all that matters is the love and faith people entrusted in her. She also wants to thank her adversaries, because it is from them that she got the strength to fight back every time.
The road is too long and she is yet to walk miles. But, as she reaches another milestone, she is immensely happy and wants to share some moments with her well-wishers and wants them to keep supporting her. She thanks Krishnakoli stars Nikhil and Shyama, and Miss India Anwesa Ray Mukhopadhyay and is honoured to give Saurav Ganguli a token of love, from her latest range of men’s wear collection.
Titas Chakraborty is a third-year student of human development and a passionate dancer. She loves art and tries to find it in every sphere of life. She has got her diploma in fashion designing and is working hard to establish her very new clothing brand, With the Flow, that aims to reduce fashion industry waste, keeping everyone well-dressed in pieces of art. She tries to create fashion outfits from scratch, but often creates outfits from fresh material, as well. It is her mother, who always wanted her to achieve something in this field, but, due to her tight schedule and dedication to her career, she hardly got time. It is only this year that her journey took off. She is very new to the field and has a lot to learn. But she is looking forward to meeting and impressing her customers with her creations.
Gargi Das (25), a teacher, works at the National Gems Higher Secondary School, Kolkata. Life had always been a struggle for her. But such struggles have always helped her reach higher goals. However, through all her struggles and bad days, art and craft have never let her down. In fact, it has always given her the spirit to strive for the better. House E Effect happened a year ago, when a friend started a private exhibition, where she had to play an important role. All her creations took a new form there and so, House E Effect began its journey with new creations. Growing response from people gave her the confidence to help House E Effect prosper. Her creativity ranges from paintings to wall-hangings, diyas and candles, to curtain hangings, jewellery, perfume and even handbags, sarees and dresses. She hopes to give her customers a glimpse of her creations through this exhibition and hopes they like them.