Kanchan Mittal, the owner of Haritika Diamonds and Jewellery and the Founder Member of Global Women Network started late as an entrepreneur but achieved success in a very short span of time. She is the inspiration to women who want to start a career late in life, who want to show the world that women too, can penetrate the areas that were, till now, thought of as a male bastion. Talking to her is like swimming in a sea of positivity and possibilities.
Q: Tell something about your Childhood.
Ans. From my childhood, I had been a voracious learner. I learnt and done any and everything that charmed me. This may be socially tagged as girly interests like stitching, painting, drawing, gymnastics or so called boys’ domain such as playing guitar and drum. Second among five sisters, I was always the pampered little girl for my parents. My father, a pearl jewellery entrepreneur, provided every opportunity to me and my sisters.
Q: Did you always have this intention of becoming an entrepreneur?
Ans. I married my best friend after a long courtship and was happy just being married. Soon I was a mother of two lovely daughters. I was ecstatic and determinant; I wanted my daughters to be good human beings and successful in any field that they choose for themselves and in that order. What my father told me, I have passed on to my daughters- Be a good human being first, then only can you enjoy your successes and achievements.
Q: What was that crucial moment which inspired you to step out of home and do what you are doing today? The turning point of your story.
Ans. One day, when I was trying to explore the computer, my daughter said, “Mom! please do not touch the computer, you’ll damage it.” On the surface, it was just a small incident but it touched me in a major way. I had always wanted my daughters to respect me as a human being, and not only as a mother who just provides for their needs. Immediately, I enrolled myself for a computer class and learnt to operate computer. I wanted to be a ‘Cool’ mom for my daughters.
Second trigger occurred when one day I had to go for some urgent shopping and the driver did not turn up. I waited for the driver for more than two hours and finally came to a distressing conclusion that my life was not in my own control. Then and there I enrolled myself for driving class. Driving is liberating. Every woman should learn driving and self defence.
Q: How did you start working from being a stay-at-home mom?
Ans. When my daughters went to school, I was free for most of the time so I joined a school for special children called ‘Koshish’. I taught these special kids for five years. I used to get a sense of completeness. Giving and sharing is important for me in life.
Q: How did you become an entrepreneur?
Ans. While I was working with Mrs Mridul Singh in the NGO Koshish, I got the first opportunity of starting my business and that too unknowingly. Mrs Mridul’s mother suggested me to bring some pearl jewellery from my father in Hyderabad and sell them in Delhi. This was a big hit among the women of the area. This gave a sense of thrill to me and I started selling pearl jewellery from home.
Meanwhile, One of my cousins in Mumbai asked me to help out a jewellery artist who made precious jewellery. He was in need of money and my cousin requested me to help him. I was, at that time, selling only pearl jewellery from home. But when you want to do good, something good also happens to you. That artist connected me to other craftsmen who were doing it in bulk. I was helping him and in this process, gradually, I became the biggest vendor of these craftsmen. There was immense demand for this jewellery in Delhi, especially among women who wanted grand but cost effective jewellery.
I sold these jewellery from home until one day when my elder daughter Haritika suggested me that I should think of expanding with such a good client base. I asked Haritika to help me and she put this condition of becoming my partner in business. And Haritika Diamonds and Jewellery LLP was registered. It was the third company in India to go online, and to register as an e-commerce company. It is only because of my daughter that I ventured into the world of entrepreneurship because this was her condition that she would work with me only if I register a company and make her a partner. For two years, Haritika helped me set up the business and then she went to USA for higher studies.
Q: Did you get support from your family members?
Ans. I get full support from each of my family members. In fact, my mother-in-law is my role model. She is the one who encouraged me to step out of home and do something for my own growth. My mother-in-law lost her husband too early in life. She had to take care of 4 children with the eldest one merely 7 years old and the youngest, 1 and a half years old. She struggled a lot and raised them to be beautiful human beings.
Q. What led you to begin your other venture “Global Women Network”?
Ans. While returning from a networking event, I realized, why can’t there be something like this for budding women entrepreneurs who face quite a lot of challenges in the beginning. If they get proper guidance about every aspect of business, they could achieve success in very short time. Thus, I teamed up with two likeminded women, Dr Prerna Taneja and Nidhi Lal and this is how ‘Global Women Network’ came in existence. It is dedicated to support, training, mentoring and promotion of women entrepreneurs. However, after starting this women’s network, I came across a very sad truth. Women entrepreneurs sometimes do not want to come out of their comfort zone. They remain happy by selling few items from home. They don’t want to take it to another level. I saw this in 60% of women. Unless you don’t want to grow yourself, you can’t do it. As a human being, if you don’t grow, you suffocate yourself in the end. Money is not the only objective, you have to be happy and this is only when you grow yourself. Women should live for themselves too. You can always give time to relationships and family. They can even be your first priority, but, you must also live for yourself.
Q: What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs who want to make it big?
Ans. Positive mindset is what takes you to the path of success. You will lose something to gain something else. I don’t get time to rest now but I have this opportunity to come every day and sit in my office. I still cook after going home in the evening. My working hours are more than normal but I enjoy this, I enjoy working. To maintain balance between work and home is not very difficult.
Entrepreneur Kanchan a philanthropist at heart. She always gives people an opportunity to grow. These people can be her employees, peons, maids, anyone. She convinced three of her office assistants to study further. Now she wants her present office peon to study but he is not interested as of now. So, she has started teaching him editing images and doing some or the other thing using computer so that he gains some skills. The daughter of her house maid also works and learns in her enterprise. She provides 15 days’ paid leaves to her employees to appear for examination. And all her packing materials, gift boxes etc. come from Koshish NGO where special children make them while getting vocational training.
She wishes with dreamy eyes, “I want our society to be more liberal. Social stigma of differences among people should be lesser. All should be respectful to each other. Less privileged people are still marginalized. To bring them to mainstream, each entrepreneur, especially women entrepreneur, must give employment to at least one special or under privileged person.”