What do you need to be successful – money? Good grades? Good looks? No! Just self-confidence. Our SlubGirl of the Month & fashion entrepreneur, Gunjan shares her story about how confidence leads to success.
It’s Important to Dream Big
When I was very small, I looked around at successful people and I always wanted to do something big in life. I always observed people who did something extraordinary. But at the same time, I knew I was not someone who had anything extraordinary. When I was young I always used to wonder, “What is it that I can do.” I never knew “what,” but I always knew I had to. I always dreamed of myself as a business woman addressing to a crowd.
Hard Work > Grades
I feel in our world, if you are not intelligent, if you don’t get good grades, or not good looking, then people really look down upon you. Many young people lose their potential there and develop an inferiority complex.
I somehow always believed that I may not be the best at academics. But nobody can take away my hard work and my determination to be successful.
Learning the Power of Personal Style
As I started my career, not being sure where to head, I took fashion designing. Traveling from one city to another, I got a chance to explore and discover more about myself. When one comes out of a protective environment, one gets time to evolve within.
During those years I started to understand what personal style is, why it is so important for people to focus on what they wear. Initially I tried to copy people as a teenager. But I realized over the years, that style is what defines you. It is the first reflection of you as a person when someone meets you. My sense of style has evolved as I have evolved as a person. I believe that with the confidence one carries within, one can carry anything outside gracefully.
No One is Born Extraordinary. One Becomes Extraordinary by Making Extraordinary Decisions
Once I completed my college in designing from Delhi, I wanted to work for someone. But my dad didn’t allow me to sit for placements, as he always said, “Work for yourself.” At that time I couldn’t understand it and even fought with him since I wanted to take up a job. But today I am so thankful that he helped me make this big decision.
I Did Whatever Came My Way
With not much option in 2014, I started working with my father in his manufacturing plant where it was all mechanical work. It was an industry that wouldn’t interest most women. But working there taught me some basic lessons about survival in the professional world!
I started pursuing a program in Mass Comm. from Chandigarh and also started freelancing for Indian Express. I also worked in the catering business as that was the time people were growing in that industry.
I kept doing whatever came my way. Of course it was never easy. Whatever I did there was criticism in some or the other way. But I enjoyed what I did. It was never about people in my life. I always sat and explained to my parents and family why I want this. I guess I have always been stubborn but with a plan in mind.
Why Should We Be Afraid of Failure?
After a few years, I got back to my designing. My father gave me 40,000 rupees and I put up my first ever exhibition. It failed big time. I was new to the market, new to the real world. I realized that it is very different when you step into the real world. What you study in school isn’t always applicable.
My confidence shook, I felt I am not meant for this. That one failure created self-doubt and I started wondering if designing was for me. But I was so passionate to sail through, so I did another exhibition and then another one till I succeeded.
In 2010, after few years of exhibitions, I opened my own boutique and started running towards my dreams. I started small, tried whatever came my way and finally made it to a position where I am today only because I always knew my dreams will become a reality one day and I just need to keep following the path.
Choosing Ambition Over Profession
A few years later, I started feeling that there was much more to me than being at one place and just doing the same thing. While my boutique was doing well, a business in fashion designing didn’t turn out to be as creatively or financially fulfilling as I had hoped. My ambition had always been to become a businesswoman, not just to become a designer.
Entrepreneurs’ success stories have always inspired me. I always wanted to have a success story of mine, too. My positivity, my zeal to make it big has been huge and I have never taken too much time to make any decision in life. That’s because I believe that until I don’t take risks and believe in myself, I can’t get something that other people fear to have.
An opportunity came to me to join the field of networking. Initially, I just took it up part-time, dipping my toe in the water. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people at different platforms. I guess god keeps laying a path for you when you really want something. He sends people and ideas in life to lead you where you want to be. You just have to grab the opportunities he sends your way.
The better earnings, travel and lifestyle motivated me to take this venture up full-time. I also realized that for a person to be successful in life, it is very important to have the company of right people who can help and guide a person to change and grow.
I learned that it’s okay to evolve with time. It’s okay to change our profession no matter what our age is, as long as it drives us towards our bigger goal in life.
Balancing Negatives with Positives in Life
Many people spoke behind my back, and criticized me to my family. But on the other hand, many more spoke good about me and gave me blessings, when I could make a difference in their lives. I started volunteering at Bal Sadan, a home for orphan and destitute women and children. The small kids there became my family and the smile on their faces lead the way. It keeps me going when someone tries to bog me down!
How Confidence Leads to Success
I was a little girl with dreams who turned into a strong woman with a vision. Deep down in my heart I always knew what I wanted. I wanted to earn respect, dignity and pride for myself and my work has given me all. It is very important to believe in yourself and then keep working towards what you really want. A woman has so much power, so much beauty and so much potential. But sadly, not all are always told this.
My Journey Taught Me How to Get What I Want
I am someone who is very positive and full of life. And when it comes to my dreams, I am stubborn but at the same time also back it up with my hard work and a plan to achieve them. I want to do so much more in future, from growing more to traveling more to achieving more to giving more. But I just want to say that when you really, really want something…. JUST GO FOR IT and you really, really can achieve it. I believe that God only gives to those who ask.
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Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion.
Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That’s how it evolved over centuries and that’s how it’s been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]