Homemaker turned entrepreneur Rajashree Nedungadi converted her hobby into a business. She shares her story with Prachi Rege.
"If you have an idea then try it.” When she read this line in an interview featuring Michael Dell, founder and CEO, Dell Computers, Rajashree Nedungadi was grinning with satisfaction. Ten years ago she applied the same mantra to her life and managed to become an entrepreneur in her own right.
Nedungadi is not a trained artist, but has developed the talent all through self-training. "I must have possessed an aesthetic sense, but never thought that I would make a living out of it," she explains. Under her brand name CurioCity, Nedungadi wears many hats. She is both an artist and an art trainer. "A name was essential to build an identity and market oneself," she says, crediting her husband for his creative input in her venture and his support.
As an art teacher Nedungadi conducts classes at home five days a week and holds workshops for the middle level company executives. She is the guest faculty at Nirmala Niketan and SNDT Women`s University, where she trains fashion designing students. As an artist she creates customised gifts and decor items.
Nedungadi specialises in three art forms —painting, clay craft and paper craft. She is proficient in over 300 art and craft forms that include Kerala murals, Pichwai paintings from Rajasthan, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, Warli, Maharashtra, Madhubani paintings from Bihar and Gond from Madhya Pradesh. She uses pinewood for creating gift articles.
Like everyone else, Nedungadi got immersed in family responsibilities after her marriage. While she completed her MA in economics from Mumbai University, she couldn’t take up work full time owing to her husband’s busy schedule. "Also,” she adds as an afterthought, “I am not good at taking orders from others.”
It was only in 1998 in Gurgaon, where she was stationed due to her husband’s transfer that she realised her true potential. She was conducting a summer workshop on art for children. “I discovered by hidden talent for arts,” she says. "I started learning and practising various art forms."
In 2003, when they moved to Mumbai, Nedungadi signed up for Pidilite Industries`s Hobby ideas workshops, under which they train people with an inclination toward art. As a member of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of her children`s school, she helped in developing an art mela with along with Pidilite. This incident set the ball rolling and her hobby turned into a venture. “I started my own business in arts,” says the mother of two proudly.
Art, the entrepreneur says, is volatile in nature. One needs to keep abreast with the latest trends to hone skills further. She attends at least three to four training camps annually, where she interacts with artists from across the country. “The interactions boost my creativity,” she shares.
Nedungadi likes to be her own boss because of “flexi work hours”. “And the money is good too,” she points out, "what more does one want?" She now employs five persons to meet the ever increasing demand for workshops from educational institutes and corporate houses, and keep up with orders for customised gift items.
An entrepreneur, she believes, should be available to the client all the time. Quick thinking on the feet is essential and procrastination is a bane. So what is her advice to women with a business idea, especially those who are holding on to it for lack of confidence or support, "If you see a cloud with a silver lining, rest be assured that something good will come out of it. So just grab the opportunity. Don`t wait for approvals."
To do list:
- Understand your competitor`s strength and weakness
- Be dedicated to your business and offer good quality work
- Develop and build clients on your USP
- Be approachable and available to clients at any given point of time
- Be street-smart and grab opportunities