Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Dreams: The Engine of Social Change

The fire in the belly and an ardent wish to do something worthwhile became the driving force for three women, our next door neighbour kind of girls, to step out of their comfort zones and challenge the existing mores in the society. Maya profiles three such women, two dentists, who chose jewellery designing and handicrafts and another, who began modestly in fashion designing to reach great heights. Here are the inspiring stories of young achievers, an apt role model for others, exclusively in Different Truths.

‘Woman’, the word no more brings forth a picture of a fragile creature, self- evasive, submissive, meek or highly vulnerable. It’s rather an altogether new incarnation we behold today – not only self-sufficient but also emerging as the engine of social change.

Be it any field of life, she has been toiling and moiling to leave a stamp behind. She may dazzle your eyes by her sheer brilliance and beauty, tickle your bones by her queer sense of humour, startle you by her wise counsel in politics, melt you by her soft demeanour and leave you bewitched by her oratory skills. We are talking about the women of substance, here.

Shelly: From Dentistry to Jewellery Designer


Meet Dr Shelly, who is a dentist by profession and a jewellery designer by passion! This blossoming into a woman of essence wasn’t left to chance. Shelly tells, “No sooner than I opened my eyelids into this world, my Dad gave out that I was going to be a doctor when I grew up. He brought me up like his son. He was meticulous at teaching me so many new things irrespective of me being a girl. He taught me to play with screws and nuts, to mend things in the house and even to drive a car at the age of fourteen. Not only that I was even taught how to repair it!”

Shelly got admission in a dental college, soon to fall a prey to the charisma of an aspiring doctor. The two got married soon and settled in UP. Both ran a dental clinic successfully there. After a span of ten years or so, they shifted to Alwar, a small yet beautiful city in Rajasthan; a heaven for peace loving souls, away from the rat race that would let them have no respite. The nest was formed again and the clinic resettled too. Running a clinic with no glitches needed able backing that she was fortunate enough to get from two persons, Nisha and Paras. They were enthusiasts, who would keenly observe, learn and lend fruitful succour.

One can’t actually foretell what’s written across the skies. While Dr Shelly was quite very passionate about the occupation she was in, there was a creative streak somewhere inside her that she was delighted to discover. The thirst eventually led her to jewellery designing, initially in gold and diamonds to proceed with silver and precious gems. Shelly says, “Though it was a small beginning with merely a twenty pieces being bought and then sold later, I soon started designing them on my own, of course as fancied by my clients (read custom designed), as per their budget and choices.”

She took help from the local jewellers initially but they couldn’t make out what her artistic mind desired to see in shape. Eventually, Rakesh Jain, who dealt in precious gems promised to help and did in fact try his level best to materialise her fancy. It was like a dream taking shape! He further employed a local goldsmith and two more, thus forming a team designing gems and jewels.

“Many women clients confided in me as to how their fond hopes to get what their feminine hearts caught a fancy for, were always dashed to the ground. As they approached some jeweller with what they had in mind (women have a lot in their mind when it comes to jewellery!), the jewellers would discourage them saying they shouldn’t be dreaming. I patiently heard my clients describe at length what they wanted and believe me they were so keyed up! I loved that zest of theirs to celebrate life by looking beautiful. They were so creative themselves! It was they who chiselled gold in their desired manner. I just copied. I have learnt a lot from them.”

Shelly included another woman from Jaipur in her team who she was introduced to, on WhatsApp. She has been guiding her most wonderfully till date. She also proceeded to involve a few more of the local jewellers like Amit, Vishnu and Soni, who were gem specialists daring to go different from the conventional designs.

Shelly’s designs aren’t exclusively for the fair sex. She even designs for men and kids! She has recently made some beautiful designs from Hyderabadi baroque pearls and introduced Rudraksh designer jewellery.

Having launched her jewellery designs officially in a showroom in Alwar, she took a giant leap and set up its branches in Gurgaon and Canada. Tiny steps, one at a time, leading to giant leap!

Shelly owes gratitude to Rakhi, who showed confidence in her designs, herself being a successful entrepreneur, and obviously her model, Sagarika. Shelly is thankful to her photographer, who shoots the designs as breathtaking pieces and above all, her family and friends, who have made her realise her worth.

She had never dreamt that her passion would involve so many people including the goldsmiths, who confessed that though they were highly paid, they had never tried such challenging a task to provide such unconventional designs.

When her labour demanded a share in the profits, she generously asked them to quote the price, receiving which they had a beaming smile.

She believes ‘we all grow together.’ It’s a chain reaction. The labour is happy working for her, she’s happy working for her clients. Her clients are happy to have what they want. One of her bosom friends, Vandana inspired Shelly telling her that 40s are the new 20s! So, it’s never too late to look beautiful and make others look beautiful too. The team has recently ventured into a new collaboration Neoastitva, wherein they plan to encourage women in jewellery business from all over India.

Talking about her future plans, Shelly confides that she is planning to open a curious shop in Alwar, where they would have heritage jewels from Rajasthan, thus adding feather to the cap of Rajasthan Tourism. The resources are there. What Rajasthan needs is limelight. Rajasthan as home to world tourism is her ambition. Shelly would like to involve a number of women in the designing team, net marketing team and retailing areas, working at their own comfort level.

Rakhi: A Fashion Designer

Meet Rakhi Narula. She is a reputed fashion designer held in high esteem not only for her beautiful designs but also for her business ethics. She’s a humble and down to earth kind of a woman who works hard for the satisfaction of her customers. With painstaking efforts and patience, she has managed to reach where she is.

She recalls being a pampered child in the family enjoying her princess like stature. Though showering upon her the best of the joys a child might crave for, her parents taught her that ethics were to be valued more than money. Where a girl is allowed to grow with no gender bias working against her, she blooms fully. Rakhi used to be brimming with self-confidence still at the prime of her youth. There were wells of potential that needed to be harnessed in the right direction.

“I had a crush on a boy (my hubby), while I still was a school girl. My Dad wasn’t unnerved finding this out. He approached me calm and composed. He guided me as to what it meant to be a girl of moral values, what education actually was meant for and how life could any day be a turbulent sail when the weather conditions got adverse. He taught me the value of career.

He told that education and expertise went a long way indeed. I focussed hard. I opted for fashion designing responding to my inner call. I had been a fashion freak since childhood and would be fascinated by the trendy costumes my Barbie dolls came clad in. I did my fashion designing course from polytechnic and then computer aided designing from Lady Irwin College. I did freelancing in various fashion houses for the sake of experience,” she stated.

Rakhi got married at twenty two. She desired to open her own fashion studio and was supported by the family. She took a place on rent initially and worked with a bunch of karigars (craftsmen, workers). Soon she was acknowledged for her work and expertise. It encouraged her to increase the number of people working under her. She introduced her own brand. She bought her own place in 2001, a bigger and better one in all respects.

She owes to her friends, who spread a word-of- mouth appreciation for her work and got her orders. Rakhi did her first fashion show, in 2003, which gave her work a boost in fact. The show was choreographed by Varun Kakkar and they had absolutely no professional models!

Varun trained all the volunteers who wanted to be a part of it. The quintessential experiment paid off. The show was a big hit!

Growing bit by bit, Rakhi recently shifted her fashion studio to much posh locality in the town.

Asked if she thinks she has tasted success, she wonders what the word ‘success’ meant. To her it’s not the destination but the journey that matters more. Success is a state of mind. If you are satisfied with your output, you are successful. She and Dr Shelly share the same premises. The sparks of creativity in their respective fields have resulted into a shining light.

Shelly has been experimenting designing jewellery in cloth as to beautifully go with the dresses Rakhi designs!

Another good friend called Neha with whom Rakhi did good photo-shoots has been the rock solid support throughout. Rakhi has come a long way fuelled by friends and well-wishers and there’s still a long way to go.

Ankita: From Dentistry to Handicrafts

Next to be introduced dear friends, is Ankita Jain. She deals in handicraft, rakhi-making and toys.

Rakhi-making had been a traditional family business at her in laws’ for years altogether. She, however, began the same business afresh, on her own, as the couple got separated from the joint family, merely seven months back.

Ankita is a dentist too by profession. Craft work however was something where she found the beautiful amalgamation of vocation and avocation. ‘This is seasonal business’ says Ankita. Lumba rakhi, kids’ rakhi, rakhi thali and many more are the main attractions in her workshop. They even make Holi colour guns, masks and Holi balloons for the occasion of Holi. For Diwali likewise they have Bandhanvars, fragrances, spiritual frames, decorative candles, gifts and clay idols. They have set up a firm for this purpose.

Ankita tells with an all knowing air-“We get the raw material like pearls, beads and other decorative items from various places and first make samples from those. We then give them to our local labour in order to manufacture the same. Since it is a humble beginning on our own, presently we have around twenty labourers working for us in the workshop. Apart from this, we have around a hundred families working for us from homes. It’s an absolute delight to be able to give employment to so many people and thus lending them a helping hand to raise their standard of living and being independent. Most of those who work for us are women.”

Ankita has had her training from no other than her own mother-in- law, who has been walking hand in hand with Ankita throughout the beautiful journey. She has reaped a rich harvest of experience in this field. They have buyers now from all over India.

Ankita has a little daughter Advika, who like any other child of her age, is very fond of dolls and other toys. Ankita, therefore, decided to deal in toys as well. They are wholesalers of toys, which they directly import from China.

“How do you feel being able to give employment to ladies?”

“I and my hubby really feel very proud of this. Most of those ladies are illiterate or not much educated. We enable them to live a life of dignity. Being independent is important for everyone not only in the economic way but socially too.”

“Who has been role model?”

“One of my professors used to say that dentistry is 50% art and the other 50% science. I think this may be applied to almost any walk of life. When you do something with love and dedication, it becomes an art- the art of living, so to say. My hubby has been my role model. He is my strength.”

So, women are no more laggards. Be it Rajasthan, Gujarat or any other state of India, women are our pride. They not only fantastically manage the households but also hold the reins when the need be there or when there’s this inner urge to shine!

©Maya Khandelwal

Pix sourced by author.

Maya Khandelwal

Maya Khandelwal

Maya, happily married to writing, is a published author of three books- My favourite Mistake Ever, Just Zindagi and A Beautiful Mistake. She’s alsoco-authored I Am a Woman, a tribute to Kamala Das. She’s been a regular contributor at blogsand e- magazines like Womanatics, Bonbology, Learning and Creativity etc. A passionate lover of nature, she can commune with it for hours. Nature, in its various guises, enthrals her.
Maya Khandelwal

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