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Failure: A Stepping Stone to Success "My skills and interests have taught me two things: you are nothing if you don't have focus"

By Nina Lekhi

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I often wonder: how did this mischievous middle-class child become the Managing Director and Chief Design Curator of a company?

I wasn't academically brilliant, nor was I a phoenix who rose from acute poverty. From a young age, I was passionate about painting, which inspired me to take up a diploma foundation art course at Sophia's, Mumbai.

But initially, I faced many upheavals, which only made me more determined to succeed. My world nearly collapsed when I was not allowed to attend college for a year because I had failed an exam. I stood outside college, weeping, and at that point, I promised myself that I would do something worthy with my life.

This promise, that an 18-year-old student at Sophia Polytechnic, made to herself in 1984, is what sowed the seeds of my entrepreneurial dream, BAGGIT, and propelled me towards making 'bags with attitude'. This was my first learning in life: failure is the key to success. Use failure to motivate yourself to give clarity to your vision and pursue your dreams with more vigour.

Passion: The Light to Focus

I have always been focused and knew what I wanted. I balanced two part-time courses -- one in textile and another in screen printing along with a job as a salesgirl on the side. I learnt a lot of important lessons and gained customer insights on the shop floor that gave me better footing for the future. I picked up the tools of the trade very quickly which helped me get started on my journey to becoming an entrepreneur. My skills and interests have taught me two things: you are nothing if you don't have focus. The focus is always worth pursuing when it is driven by motivation and a passion to encourage you on the path of achieving the life goals.

Prioritize: The Key Rule

I got married at 22. When my daughter was born, I struggled to balance my time with her and my business. I remained the ever multi-tasking person I am.

Initially, I would put my baby to sleep at 10 pm -- take a power nap for 15 minutes and wake up again. Rising up again at night was extremely tough, as a tired young mother, but I was determined to work for a few hours before I slept again.

But while I didn't put my work on the backburner, I also prioritized my baby above all. In situations like this, it is important to not plan excessively and take each day as it comes, as life with a young child can be very unpredictable.

We soon realized that erratic sleeping hours are the toughest part of managing a newborn. Family and work go hand-in-hand but, sometimes you need to prioritize. I always felt that work could go on without me -- and it was not every day that I would be having a baby.

Realize: There's more to Life

Late hours and an overwhelming workload can often result in unhealthy habits like overeating. I often indulged in munching on the food after the efforts put in during the whole day. But we don't see the negative impact of this on our body, till it starts manifesting itself physically.

I had been trying to get fit for a year but soon realized that the exercises were not showing any result because my eating was not regulated. The root cause of this vicious cycle is that we invest all our time in building our businesses and fail to realize that there is more to life than work, and neglect to take care of ourselves, physically and mentally. It is important here to stop, take a moment and look at maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

It is important to make time for sports, family, fun, adventure and anything that can motivate you to stay healthy. This will allow you to return to your work with more energy and assertiveness.

Personal and Professional: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Having family involved in your business is a boon because of the comfort-level that you share with them. They know you, understand you as well as the business and its culture, which is more than you can ask for.

But you have to be able to create a balance between your personal and professional world. This learning came true after one of my cousins patted my shoulder and said, "You treat us as cousins only on family occasions".

Treating everyone equally, in the case of family, may have the potential to create some friction but these equations have to be balanced sensitively. A family business can turn the family into colleagues at work, but at home, your family is family; not only during occasions but every day.

I strongly believe one grows with every challenge. Dealing and surmounting challenges help broaden your horizon and enable better understanding of life in general. In my career, the challenge has always been to balance the thin line between professional and personal life. You slip, you learn and you move forward: that's what life is.

Nina Lekhi

MD and Chief Design Curator, Baggit

Nina Lekhi, MD and Chief Design Curator, Baggit, is an entrepreneur by profession and a role model for many aspiring entrepreneurs had started her journey from scratch. She has built a popular vegan bag and accessories brand over the years. Recently, the author has launched her biography called Bag it All, which recounts her inspirational journey. 

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