Women entrepreneurs looked upon as glorified housewives

by Poornima Nair, Founder, Poornima Nair Bags

Nature of business: Designer bags and luggage accessories

Been in business since: May 2012

Advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs: Don’t get discouraged with early setbacks. Just stick to your goals.

Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with bags, shoes and accessories of all kinds. I always knew that I was destined to be a designer; but that did not stop me from pursuing my academics. With a degree in economics and fashion designing, I had been putting away money for my own venture that I knew I would begin someday.

Setting up a business in Mumbai was not easy as a woman and I faced a lot of issues pertaining to labour, suppliers, vendors and just everything. People in the leather and leather goods business were not forthcoming with information and perhaps felt a little threatened by my gender and age.

Since I was dealing in leather and leather accessories, I had to travel to places that are not considered ‘safe’ in Mumbai. I either needed to be escorted if it got too late or simply choose a ‘better’ time of the day. I found it really frustrating and at times wished that I was a man. That way, at least I could have traveled freely at anytime of the day without getting strange glances from passers by! There is also this strong undercurrent of prejudice where I often find people implying that as a woman it’s only my ‘hobby’ and that I am not a serious businesswoman. And since I work from home, people always think that I am a glorified housewife who is not equipped to handle finances.

Going ahead, I intend to get a commercial license for which I will have to go through the entire process of registration and legal issues. And frankly I am also preparing myself to battle another set of biased people. For today, despite all the progress that we claim to have made, I do not think that it is easy for women entrepreneurs to make it in this man’s world!

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