Positive, Poised, Feisty: The Carpet Store Owner who Refused to Quit
Business opportunities for women are like thin air – they’re all around you and you can feel them but you can’t see them. Here is the motivational story of self-made entrepreneur Shalini Joslin who created a business out of thin air all by herself. The day she decided to stand up and fight for herself made her an achiever in life. Today, she is the owner of ‘The Carpet Barn’, the biggest hub of custom made carpets in Kochi. Over biscuits and tea, Shalini laid bare her heart with HerMoneyTalks.
“There is nothing that can stop you from achieving goals, if you believe in yourself.” Shalini gives a glimpse of her strong personality with an opener that could have knocked down a bear. She had spent her life groping in a darkness that had swallowed her visions.
To get over the trauma of doing nothing, she explored her interests. One day, abruptly, she ventured into the carpet business. Maybe it was the proverbial entrepreneurial bug that had come unannounced. Having no idea on how to make her dream come true, Shalini decided to research and learn about the scope of making carpets.
Life a threadbare mosaic of realities
Lack of business opportunities for women is trumped only by the skepticism of naysayers. “The initial opinions from people around were truly disheartening. Many pointed that with the humid and hot summers of Kerala, a carpet store would never bring in great profits,” reveals Shalini.
With a fiery passion, she decided to travel across India and understand more about the manufacturers and weavers. She started her own business with zero capital and zero backup.
I still see their puzzled faces when I become nostalgic. They were very unsure and uncomfortable in treading the unknown path with me.
“The first step I did was bargaining for advance payments from my clients,” grins Shalini. Meeting and convincing architects and interior designers of her idea of custom-made carpets and rugs were a difficult task altogether.
“I still see their puzzled faces when I become nostalgic. They were very unsure and uncomfortable in treading the unknown path with me,” laughs Shalini. Reluctant to give up on her dreams, she decided to move on enthusiastically and soon established herself as a change maker in the carpet industry.
When all hope is done and dusted
Shalini’s first few orders were disastrous. Her plans went wrong big-time, starting from quality of materials, designs, colors, and delivery of products. “I faced issues at every turn, nearly got fired, juggled failures and unhappy days. The business gave me nothing but absolute despair!”
I remember rushing away to a place far away from earshot and eyesight and bursting into tears.
One incident really pulled the rug from under Shalini’s feet. Shalini was supposed to carpet the VVIP area of a prestigious government project. “This kind of work is unacceptable. This project is rejected,” was how the high-profile client expressed his displeasure at the way the carpet was laid. Lack of perfection in the carpet joints led to rejection of the order.
“I remember rushing away to a place far away from earshot and eyesight and bursting into tears,” recounts Shalini. It was an experience that taught her a lot about discipline, perseverance, and fight. Realizing that nothing came easy, she began her long journey of learning. She soon proved her mettle by successfully completing yet another order from the same client.
Shalini realized that business opportunities for women do not coming knocking repeatedly. With a renewed spark of confidence, she decided to revive her business by changing her tactics.
Shalini took the courage to travel again, learn more about the products, and source from new manufacturers. She wove better strategies and innovative ways to improve her business thereafter.
A fresh breath of positivity
Even if business opportunities for women are identified by female founders and nurtured, money can be a prickly issue. Fund raising was Shalini’s major hurdle as an entrepreneur. She approached various private financiers but all of them diplomatically shut their doors. There were a hundred criteria that she had to meet.
I had no showroom to showcase my products. It was quite cumbersome to carry all the samples and catalogs to prospective customers.
To avail a bank loan in turn brought more stress. But the gritty carpet businesswoman plodded on, reassuring herself with positive thoughts everyday.
“I had no showroom to showcase my products. It was quite cumbersome to carry all the samples and catalogs to prospective customers,” explains Shalini. Pained and depressed, she became her own motivator and a continuous learner. The immense possibilities of the myriad colors and weaving techniques still inspire this wonder woman to weave unique carpets.
The 3 D’s: Determination, Dedication, and Discipline
As a lady entrepreneur, she reveals the hardships she had to experience while managing her accounts and finances. This led Shalini to take charge of her financial well-being wholeheartedly. She even points to the road blocks that a woman needs to face when she is a beginner in business.
“There is a pre-conceived notion that women who enter business are mostly ladies who have nothing to do in life.” Shalini flashes an indignant look. “They are simply looking to make some pocket money which is only an addition to the main family income!”
Shalini winds up her talk by encouraging all the women entrepreneurs to stay positive in their lives. Her best piece of advice: never keep payments pending and never pay off suppliers before inspecting product quality.
Shalini shares some insights for beginners:
(1) Learn different strategies to sell your product
(2) Know your competitors
(3) Update yourself with the current market scenario
Shalini received the ‘Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All’ Award 2019 at the Women Economic Forum 2019 and is the master brain behind the success of her store The Carpet Barn. She has truly shown that business opportunities for women need not be a dole from society, but something women can identify and nurture on their own.
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