How India revealed my secret ingredient
I NEVER KNEW THE DEEP RESERVOIRS OF RESILIENCE I HAD UNTIL I STARTED A BUSINESS IN INDIA.
Several years ago, I was a classic small businesswoman; living and working in my established knitting shop on the east coast of Australia.
These days the majority of my business is based in India.
The road to India was a rough but rewarding one. It began when legislation changes for manufacturing made producing handknits in Australia unviable for my business. I explored options for basing production overseas and a colleague introduced me to a contact in India.
In many parts of Indian society, particularly in rural areas, women are very much second-class citizens. A foreign woman is a rare thing in rural areas. Ordinary tasks in Australia, like opening a bank account or securing a lawyer, became huge tasks as I navigated the business culture in India.
I’ve been through four accountants in just a few years. I’ve had screaming matches with men because I’m a foreign woman. I’ve been in a bank where the staff didn’t even talk to me.
When I engaged a law firm and turned up for my first appointment they kept me waiting 2.5 hours. When I asked: “Is the wait normal?” their response was to get up and leave.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“We don’t deal with people who talk to us like that,” they said.
I never felt like quitting. I always had strong motivation to put handknits onto the world’s catwalks. My upbringing as the daughter of two working parents and experience as a mother-of-two, teacher and shop owner had taught me a lot about bouncing back.
I did not know I would face these challenges when I first went to India. When I decided I would establish a network of artisans there, I took the simple step of buying a plane ticket.
It was a one-way ticket to resilience.