Home OPINIONS Not just high heels and pencil skirts

Not just high heels and pencil skirts

As an extroverted nine-year-old, residing in a populated Muslim neighbourhood, I was friends with dozens of girls my age. This was in a conservative community, tucked in the cozy, sleepy heart of a small city – Surat, in the late-90s. These girls, while smart and eager, but unlike me, were scarf=clad and belonged to profoundly conformist households. Most of them thus were not to be seen in the public play area, which was buzzing with boys. There was no place for us to meet at, indulge in a common activity, just to have plain fun. Every public property seemed unsafe for young girls to be left alone at.
This seemed like a gap that I could bridge.
So, over three days of summer holidays in May, I drew up the signing-in oath and registration form of a ‘Junior Elite Club’ called – ‘Budding Beauties’ – a group of girls, by girls, for girls. I then, drew up handmade posters – (marketing is a must!) for the ‘approved members only’ group and, along with another friend, went door to door sliding these leaflets from under their doors.
There was a non-refundable registration fee as well as a fixed party amount to be shelled out prior to each event. This ‘gathering’ would happen at the homes of each member, on rotation basis. I not only recovered the amount I had invested in setting up of the club from the registration fee but also made a profit. The group amount collected was used to sponsor enjoying delicacies and games for the gathering. It was a once-a-week event. It went to become a hit amongst all the neighbourhood girls, so much so that older girls, and then the women, wanted me to arrange something similar for them too.
This was my first brush with entrepreneurship.
Fast forward to 2022 – I have founded an image management agency from the country’s capital.
This was, however, not by design. I had in fact written myself out for a corporate routine for the rest of my days on earth. Working with some of the largest branding agencies of the country, I was part of the 9-to-5 community.
Then, Covid happened.
What began as a temporary, two-week trial of work-from-home quickly turned into a year-long exercise. After spending six grueling months inside my egg size Mumbai apartment, I decided to move to Goa. Why? Well, because I could, and if I could work from anywhere, why not do it from the beach with the waves crashing onto my tanned feet?
But before moving, I had to take a tough call. It was a moment of epiphany. I took the call to quit my corporate career and step onto the startup ladder. It was not as systematic, clear cut or easy as it is to write it out here. But that story is for another day.
Was I ready for it? No. Was I aware of what lay ahead? Also no. All I knew was that what I was about to do would change the trajectory of my life. I love my work – it lends a method to the madness that is my life. Pivoting my ship in the direction of entrepreneurship meant I would get more space, time, liberty and profit margin doing what I am good at. Being able to do the one thing in the world that you are amazing at, without restrictions or doubts, is an underrated privilege.
Today, when colleagues, friends, acquaintances ask me, “What does it take to become an entrepreneur?” My answer is – “Grit and resilience. Also, taking pride in and finding dignity in every type of job you have to do as an entrepreneur.” Movies and OTT platforms make entrepreneurship seem larger-than-life, glamorous and mostly about high heels and formal suits but there is always an ugly, less glittery side to it. One day, you will be speaking to the client about an upcoming campaign idea, the next day you will be hastily filling in the accounts Excel sheet, and the third day you will be sweeping the floor to make sure your office is tidy enough for the next meeting.
That 9-to-5 will quite quickly turn to 9-to-9 and it still might not be enough. But that’s what entrepreneurship is about – perseverance in the face of odds, keeping faith, staying focused, overcoming challenges, crying, then standing back up again and learning to deal with it.
In the words of Spiderman – With great power, comes great responsibility.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

Misbah Quadri - Founder & CEO - Monofys MediaMisbah is an under-35 creative communications expert with a combined experience of 15 years to her credit as a media and brand image advisory expert. From FMCG to BFSI and Fashion & Lifestyle to Education, Misbah has worked with brands across the spectrum. Most recently, she quit her plush job in Mumbai with a reputed brand and founded image management agency Monofys Media. She holds A-Levels degree in Media Studies, Law and English Literature from Leyton Sixth Form College in London, United Kingdom.

This column appears in the March 2022 edition of our quarterly magazine. To grab your own copy, click here