Naveena Karthika is a mompreneur who runs her own clothing design brand – ‘Medley of Sarees‘. Being an engineer and MBA graduate, she has been working in IT and finances. But, having time and space during her initial days of motherhood, she wanted to start something of her own, that she would love to do. Taking up her friend’s suggestion seriously, she turned out to be a womenpreneur today. Naveena shares with WomenpreneursOfIndia – WOI about her business journey.
Women help women more than it’s being advertised, so lean on the strong shoulders and the smart heads.
I am Naveena Karthika Ponnusamy. I run an online clothing design space called ‘Medley of Sarees’, where we aim to provide comfortable clothing for women and children. I am a thorough Coimbatore Ponnu, as I have been here all my life and love it here. My parents and my immediate family are all in and around Coimbatore, so I love that my daughter who is 3.5 years old, gets to be around almost all the people who love me and have been a part of my childhood.
I am basically an engineer with a MBA in hand. I have been in IT and also in the financial hedge fund world. But, I guess both of it didn’t actually draw out that something special in me. I have always believed that when we do what we love, there is a joy in whatever we create.
When my daughter was a year old and I felt, I had the time and space to actually do something else, I started Medley based on a suggestion, which a very close friend of mine gave, while having one of our hundreds of chats. Instagram was new and we didn’t have a lot of economic options for pregnancy and nursing feeding friendly dresses around. So, I thought why not. After all, I love clothes and colours (my mom and aunt have a great taste in clothes and I grew up watching them) and business was in my blood (my dad has been doing business from time immemorial and is very much a self-made man). So, I combined both my joys and that’s how Medley was born.
The most difficult thing about starting a business was funds and the idea (it has to be something different). I didn’t want to borrow anything from my family; I wanted it to be my own. I am stubborn like that. So, I put in all the money that I had saved from my job days and just jumped head on into work. My tailors and other people who are part of the Medley family just happened almost immediately.
My first sale outside of my immediate family was to ‘the’ friend who sparked the idea of Medley in me. I made birthday clothes for her son and daughter. Those clothes remain special to me even today because, they were the first ones I planned for and worked for. It was pure joy to create something special for their special day.
When I made my 100th dress, it was special for me. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my family and didn’t even post about it. I just took time out for myself and treated myself to a lunch alone at my favourite food place and wrote a note to myself that each and every dress I make should remain as special as every of these 100 dresses.
Even now I feel I need to learn a lot. I don’t come from a fashion designing back ground. So I try and learn each and everything I can know about it. I keep looking for ways to make clothes which are comfortable, which make you feel good and which are your own. I have faced a lot of issues like other businesses copying my work, re locations and not being able to concentrate on business because I work from home and I manage my home on my own with a pre-schooler around. My family have been my rock. My husband has been the person who has gone from ‘Why do you want to do a business’ to ‘Do what it takes and I will support you’. It helps a lot since we live in a nuclear support. But my parents ( my mom especially) are close by and are always ready to help me in any way they can.
Planning has always been something I have been bad at. But when you need to juggle a lot of things and if you don’t plan, you are bound to fail. So it’s something I have been learning to do and I keep working on it. I try and prepare my meals before 9.30, so that I have the whole day ahead of me to work or do other things. I schedule visits to the tailoring unit 1-2 times a week and I have another person there who looks after the other days.
I still struggle with managing home and work. Since I work from home, there is no particular time for work or home and I feel it affects the quality time I spend with my daughter. I am trying to see how I can change that. Marketing and reaching new customers has always been word of mouth for Medley. I struggle with and regret the slow pace of growth sometimes. Then I speak to one of my family or my friends and I am back on track. It’s always been that simple for me. I just need to hear an encouraging word or a hug and I can feel like I can take on anything.
I feel we just need to work on something solid for business, make sure it’s something you love and just start up. It can be something really small, but only when you actually do it, you will understand it, learn about it and grow. And always, always take help when you need it.
Thank you WOI for the opportunity to tell my story. I love being a part of WOI.
– says Naveena.
Thank you Naveena. Your ‘Believe in yourself’ spirit inspires us. We are sure that, this spirit will take you and Medley to heights. And, we are glad to feature your entrepreneurial journey on WOI. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Keep Inspiring!
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