Last week we gave you a little low down of our journey and our vision for The Wishing Chair
, stating our values and our promise. We received such an overwhelming response to that email: some of you telling us how much you want to forge something of your own but are still finding your feet, while some of you shared your journeys of taking that leap of faith into the murky entrepreneurial landscape. Thank you for writing in, it was really heartening to go through some of your brave adventures, and it encouraged us to share a little more about ourselves in the process.
Being an entrepreneur is the most rewarding and at the same time the hardest thing we have ever done. We often wonder that everybody talks about the glory, the success, the fulfillment and the fame but very few acknowledge the everyday struggles, the hardships, the challenges and the loneliness involved. In the interest of authenticity and transparency, we thought this week we would pull back the curtain a little, and share a few of our personal challenges so that we can perhaps break down some of the unrealistic illusions about entrepreneurship and how "following your passion" can be a long, winding bumpy road.
Please note, that our experiences are entirely our own and are by no means a prescriptive run-down of what you should expect. We love what we do, but wanted to take the time to share that it's not all bells & whistles. Also, we thought it might be helpful, for anyone of you who are perhaps drowning in the quagmire of business in this post-pandemic-scape, to know that you're not alone in feeling how you feel, that your feeling of being lost is perfectly normal, and actually baked into the business of starting-up.
1. It's lonely out there so look for your tribe
When there are good days: a new successful product launch, a well appreciated event, a super sales month - it's easy to share it with team members, friends & the 'gram. But when shit hits the fan, as it often does, with so many external variables beyond one's control like third party logistics, factories that work with craftsmen, with landlords and high rent prices, with ever changing government compliances( GST we are looking at you) - the buck only stops with the founders. And the burden is ours alone to bear. There have been many sleepless nights trying to figure out the serpentine capriciousness of the tax system, or how to pay vendors when the money for a large order hasn't come in yet, or the gazillion other minutiae that can go wrong with a business. And unlike the fairy tales we grew up on, there is no fairy godmother in reality to sweep in and save us! There is no choice, but to swallow the loneliness, pull up our socks and save ourselves, in small ways, everyday. What has truly helped is building a community of other fellow strugglers who empathise with your struggle. They take you out for a drink on a particularly hard day or send you salted caramel croissant deliveries to carb-nuke the endless worrying.
2. If you take a hard look in the mirror, sometimes you won't like what you see
When you pour your hearts and minds into your business, the business itself ends up being a reflection of who you are. Many times, we found our self-identity ended up being entwined in the success of The Wishing Chair. Steering this road to brand and business creation has forced us to confront every aspect of ourselves: what motivates us, what crushes us, what inspires us, our strengths and weaknesses. We have had to examine every irrational fear and limiting belief. Both of us have been through extensive therapy and counselling sessions to come to a happy equilibrium where we are able to separate work and self-worth and truly enjoy what we do for the sheer joy of creativity & artisitic fulfilment.
3. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt
Everyday, we feel that we should have known better, should have negotiated better, should have taken another decision instead. Are we doing this right? Should we be doing this at all? are questions that visit us every step of the way. Over the years we have come to accept the self doubt as our companion. It's there, we accept it, even use it as a litmus to ensure we are producing quality work , then just exhale and ask the self-doubt to sit back & enjoy the ride in the passenger seat.
4. Being different isn't a bad thing, it simply means you are brave enough to be yourself
There was a point in 2016, when we were advised to actively seek funding - so that we could live the proverbial start-up dream: scale 100x, sellout to a big, oligarch-esque company, cash out and retire on a tropical island :). So, we went shopping for funding, armed with our idealistic dreams, only to realise we hold our values sacred, and would never compromise on them in pursuit of mindless growth. It's a particularly crushing experience, to offer up your heart and soul that you've nurtured into your work, only to be cruelly crushed by suits with a narrow lens of spreadsheets.
We believe there are a lot of intangibles which take time and focus to create a great customer experience & relationships, to build a brand that is consistent, trustworthy and stands for quality and design. Hence, we decided on our own small but beautiful way, and set out on a more mindful path to growth that feels authentic to us. In a perfect world, we would like both – so let’s see what the future holds!
So, now you know; how most of us are just stumbling along, no matter how shiny, happy and confident it may seem on the surface! We would love to share in more detail our entrepreneurial journey with you, as women conducting business in India. Let us know what you would like us to discuss, or share our experience on by simply replying to this email. We would love to hear your thoughts, and help through your journey in any way we can.
A quote that has become a guiding light as we show up & do the work that is required of us to keep building our vision:
"The last few years have taught me to suspend my desire for a conclusion, to assume that nothing is static and that renegotiation will be perpetual, to hope primarily that little truths will keep emerging in time.” -Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Apart from all the serious stuff above, we also thought we would recommend five women-led podcasts we love; that discuss the gamut of trials, tribulations and joys of being a woman in the world, from relationships with others, to relationships with ourselves. Here are our picks, from the global and local sphere:
From our bravest moments to our most broken-hearted, Brene Brown, superstar speaker and researcher on shame and vulnerability, unpacks the ways to be human in the world, with her inimitable brand of Southern Belle charm and intelligence.
We have recommended them before, and recommend them again - because one can't ever have enough of laughing till your sides ache and eyes tear up. Comedian Deborah Frances-White and her special guests discuss topics “all 21st century feminists agree on” while confessing insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that underlie their lofty principles.
A poetic, spiritual masterpiece of a podcast, "pursuing deep thinking and moral imagination, social courage and joy, to renew inner life, outer life, and life together." There are so many episode recommendations on this podcast, but start with Alain De Botton, David Whyte and Ocean Vuong.
In a world where "body positivity" and "body inclusivity", this refreshing podcast is a much-required reality check on how we look at different bodies in india. Ameya and Pallavi discuss being women in India that don't fit the norm —the pain, the joy, the learning, the dark humor and the silver lining.
A comedic take on a serious issue, Women In Labour explores a veritable feast of topics related to women, work, family, power, and everything in between. Aditi Mittal and Christina MacGillivray run this freewheeling podcast with a roster of special guests—from authors to economists—in an attempt to answer all the important questions of women at work in india.
And, of course we must end with a poem of the week:
The Thing Is - Ellen Bass
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you down like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
See you next Friday, until then shine like the whole universe is your light,