How India revealed my secret ingredient

Resilience.

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 vast majority of my business is based in India. 

Danielle Chiel Fashion
Hand knits India

In many parts of Indian society women are not on an equal footing with men. What would be ordinary tasks in Australia, such as opening a bank account or securing a lawyer, became huge tasks for me. 

I’ve been through four accountants in just a handful of years. I’ve had screaming matches with men because I’m a white woman.

I can honestly say I haven’t screamed at someone like that since I was 14. 
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. I asked: “Is this normal?” In response, they got up and left. 

“Where are you going?” I asked.
“We don’t deal with people who talk to us like that,” they answered.  

Despite all of these challenges, I never felt like quitting. I always had a strong motivation to put hand knits onto the world’s catwalks. My upbringing as the daughter of two small business owners 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.