She Started Pop-ups to Help Her Mom Sell Saris, Then Became a Brand of Her Own

By Shalini Agarwal, Jaipur

Born and brought up in Kolkata, I have been living in Jaipur now for over three decades and call this my hometown in every sense. Having completed my BA from Kolkata, I had an arranged marriage at a very young age to a businessman who has his own marble production mines in Rajasthan.

Over the next several years, I devoted myself to raising a family and being the perfect wife, daughter-in-law and mother.

In the meantime, my mother, who had started her own sari brand in Kolkata at the age of 55 after my sister and I left home, expressed that she wanted to expand her business. To encourage her, I began holding exhibitions in Jaipur for her saris in 1999. Slowly, other friends joined in, and we made it a regular event.

I kept working quietly but diligently at organizing regular exhibitions until my own daughters grew up and went away. After that, I decided to take the next step and make my hobby into my career. I called my brand Aspiration, and began holding lifestyle exhibitions in cities like Jaipur, Udaipur, Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara.

We now do about 10 a year, and are associated with FICCI and FLO, besides several international names. I also co-hosted two editions of Nine Dot Squares, the only design festival of its kind in India that gives space to startups and regional craftspersons.

India is going through a tumultuous transition at present, but the future generation will benefit from all these changes and sacrifices. I dream of a time when India will no longer be a third-world country. Private enterprise and collaboration is definitely a good way to get there.

First published in the January 2018 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here, or buy the print edition.