May 9, 2021 (IANSlife) The journey of Mumbai-based jewellery entrepreneur and 'Indian Matchmaking' participant Pradhyuman's mother Sushma Maloo has been one of sheer grit and commitment to the self. Having established her jewellery brand Normament, which also features on the popular Netflix show, after an argument over two thousand rupees with her husband, this Indian mother says that, "this is perhaps a womanly quality, we are unbeatable, unafraid because we are brought up with some or the other odds against us."
Calling jewellery a "unique gift of love that travels over time and generations", Maloo says she was told that she has an eye for picking out good pieces and had an affinity towards jewellery designing.
"Back in the day, when I was a housewife, I used to receive a monthly stipend from my husband to run the house. I don’t remember the exact details but we got into an argument over 2,000 rupees, and I remember it was at that moment that I decided to start earning for myself. As I was determined to start my own business, I managed to save Rs 50,000 and start Nornament," she tells IANSlife in an interview.
Her first creation was an order for a Tirupati Balaji pendant. A humble Maloo thanks the heavens as she remembers a floodgate of orders being opened
"To be truthful I was not equipped, however I garnered my strength and with a dedication to never quit even in this harsh male dominated jewellery world. I was a one-woman army, doing everything from accounting to research to development but I held a single goal and with blinders on to the patriarchy, I charged forward.
"Everything else fell into place like tetris. Workers, clients, vendors, I just happened to always be at the right place and at the right time. I used to attribute much of my success to luck but that would be taking away from my efforts at large. I think this is perhaps a womanly quality, we are unbeatable, unafraid because we are brought up with some or the other odds against us. I’m grateful that I was denied those 2000 rupees because out of sheer spite, I become a businesswoman!" she says.
Would she agree it's hard being a mother and an entrepreneur in an ethos which constantly shames mums for not focussing all their energies on their children?
"Coming from a conservative joint family, my decision to move into business was understandably met with harsh criticism. There were many challenges and microaggressions but it only strengthened my resolve to build Nornament. In such dire times, my mother-in-law had my back, she was the wind beneath my wings and she supported me whole heartedly for which I am eternally grateful. I used to work late in the nights on new creations, making new designs and barely clock in any sleep. The whole day would be invested in running around attending to family and doing household chores. Those times were difficult but I was never tired. I could see that over time, my efforts were paying off and the loud sound of criticism moved into the background and eventually it quietened down," says Maloo.
She adds that when one is a working mum, she cannot give the quantity of time to her children but can give however, the quality of time.
"It’s safe to say that being a mother, managing a household taught me some of my most important business lessons. How to manage people and how to manage oneself. Time is the money-maker. If you learn how to manage your time, the world is at your feet. So, while it is hard to juggle being a mother and a businesswoman, I think if you’re doing what you love, you’ll find a way to balance it, with the people you love," answers the veteran designer.
"When my son joined the business and my daughter started designing herself, my world evolved. It was also a sign to me that all those nights I had focused on my work, my children had maybe been inspired by it," says the proud mother-of-two.
For Maloo, the reason why most women work is to be treated with the same level of respect and dignity as her male counterparts.
Sharing her thoughts on India needing more entrepreneurs and leaders who are female, she shares: "Women are not necessarily motivated to work for money... India’s younger population is fierce and are bold in comparison to my generation. This is a good thing and we need the few of Indian entrepreneurs to never let that fire in their belly die. Women see the value of money in terms that it builds a better life when shared. When a woman is on top, she brings others up with her as well."
Today’s social climate cannot function with the "repressiveness of the past", to move up the social ladder, man and woman, husband and wife must climb together, she notes.
"If there are more female entrepreneurs, it will inspire girls everywhere to dream a little bigger and be a little bolder. These women will also empower their children and their homes to be a little kinder. If young girls see more representation, they will feel confident that they can do it. I am a living example of the same.
"The future is growing together, men and women as a team. I wholeheartedly believe so."
Finally, answering how life has changed since her son and family appeared on the televised show 'Indian Matchmaking', she says:
"It was an enriching experience to be a part of a world that is so dramatically different than the one I was brought up in. I am no social butterfly and neither was I a social media person. The reactions to our family some positive albeit some were not the most palatable. Such was the nature of the show and the narrative had to be spun in an entertaining way. Nevertheless, everything happens for a reason, good or bad, I’m happy to be known as Pradhyuman’s mom."
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Siddhi Jain can be contacted at email@example.com