Wednesday, December 6, 2023

My journey started with a door slammed on my face: Chinu Kala

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Chinu Kala is the founder of the imitation jewellery brand, Rubans Accessories. She is an inspiration for women seeking to break the glass ceiling and achieve what they desire. We hosted Kala for an interview as part of our special series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Opening the interview by explaining to the viewers about her brand’s unique name and the meaning behind it, Chinu said, “‘Rubans’ means ribbons in French, and for us, it’s a ribbon that binds the gift of life together.” We were curious to know about Kala’s journey, so she narrated to us, “My journey started long back. I was just 15 years old and I had a tiff with my parents–my father, and now I feel it was, maybe, a regular tiff that every teenager has with their parents but maybe I was too adamant and stubborn.” As a result of the fierce squabble with her father, a “strong-headed” Chinu left her family in her teenage years. Further narrating her story, Kala said, “I just had Rs. 300 in my pocket, I had two pairs of Salwar-Kameez, I took that and I left home.” Chinu spent several days & nights on the platforms of Mumbai Central where Vada Pav replaced the three square meals she used to eat at home.

Kala told us that a kind lady who came to her rescue helped her land a job as a door-to-door salesgirl for household products. Chinu then revealed to us about the experience from her first day at the job. “She just slammed the door on my face,” said the entrepreneur while talking about the lady to whom she was about to make her first sales pitch. “I think that thing made me strong, much tougher,” said Chinu. Finishing her response, Chinu said, “A door slammed on my face, that’s how I started.”

The hardest years of her life taught Chinu a very valuable lesson: “Hunger to survive is a very big motivator.” The entrepreneur told us, “We used to ring the doorbell of hundred houses, and at the end of the day, I used to sell one or two pieces. So I used to get, like, Rs. 20-40 at the end of the day after ringing the doorbell of hundred houses.” She then revealed that she also took up work as a waitress and a receptionist, among other odd jobs, during those years.

For our next question, we asked Kala about how the idea for Rubans came to be, to which she replied, “People had their favourite streets for street shopping of jewellery, people had stores in different cities where they would go and buy jewellery, so I started thinking that why is there no brand that is catering to this entire need of jewellery.” Kala saw this space in the market and started Rubans Accessories which addressed this problem for women.

Kala finished the interview with a special message for female entrepreneurs. She said, “Put your work on a very high pedestal.” Urging women entrepreneurs to not hesitate in making work the top priority among their other duties, Kala said, “Tell the people around you that it’s equally important.”

Watch the full interview here:

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