Kerala-born Namita Chodankar at the age of 15 did a modelling stint in saree fashions as the opportunity presented itself. She moved to TV anchoring and later joined a Fortune 100 firm in its HR division. Even while she was working she was pursuing her studies. She later married a Goan and opened her own saree shop
Q: What made you to start a business in Goa?
The ladies of Goa preferred to travel to neighbouring states for their shopping – be it sarees or ethnic wears. Also, they seemed to have a limited understanding of real silk and most preferred to wear artificial materials. I am still making an effort to change that. I expose them to various kinds of silks, and the handloom craft and culture of our country. An artificial saree lacks character, so I want them to see and understand that.
Q: What was your toughest task in setting up the business?
My suppliers would be shocked when I said that I was buying sarees for Goa. They would insist I take the scarves, stoles among other items “to use over the bikini” they would explain. I had a tough time informing them that we had a vast population of well-covered women who wore sarees only. Travelling into hinterland India and juggling between mom and business is tedious.
Q: And how did you overcome it?
With a smile, a sense of humour, and loads of patience. The one benefit of travelling the length and breadth of our country is the opportunity to see these far-flung places and also experience the cuisine.
Q: Your best business moment.
Every time we make a sale I feel happy; happy that I am a part of someone’s celebration or occasion somewhere and it makes me feel special. I feel responsible for making them look good. I like that feeling.
Q: Have you achieved your goals? If not what’s left?
My biggest achievement is the regular clientele I have. I look forward to them visiting and better still bringing their friends or relatives over to the shop.
Q: us your most difficult time?
The challenge of juggling various roles, travelling, converting the mindset of people here and there.
Q: What changes would you like to see in the business arena as well as social environment?
I would like people to spend less time on online stores, come back to the retail outlets that offer authenticity, and we have an address where you can redress any issues. Today, leading online domains have stopped accepting further retailers who sell clothing and apparel because the market is flooded with duplicitous suppliers and trusting suppliers is a huge issue. Our number one mission is to create and benefit from our customers trust.
Q: Give one aspect of Goa that has changed you?
Earlier, I didn’t even know or care who is the local MLA. Goa has changed that for me. People here are aware of their rights and challenge certain changes they may not always be heard, but they don’t give up. That’s something that has changed me!