Cover girl of the month- Chinu Kala

Chinu Kala, founder Rubans Accessories, which raked in customers sales of 7.5 crores last year.

This woman has our heart and we wish we had her grit.

A little cognition into her life, Chinu Kala is a hardcore self- made woman.    

The position she is in today was made from literally the figure zero.

She left her home at  the age of 15 over differences with her family and
We caught up with her to get an insight on what makes up her never-say-die-attitude.

1. You wear your success like a t-shirt. How do you make it seem so easy and how are you so successful?

 – I am a firm believer that nothing can substitute hard work, so whatever I have     achieved today is the resultant of the hard work put in by me and my team for many years. When you follow your passion and it becomes your work then it all seems easy. I feel that I am amongst those lucky people who have been able to make a business model out of their passion.

   2. Was entrepreneurship your dream as the girl who had the courage to live life completely on her own terms?

 – I am not sure if I even knew the spelling of entrepreneurship at the time when I left my home, but I always wanted to be successful in whatever I did be it being a door to door sales girl selling knife and coaster sets and initially making enough money with which I could afford 3 meals a day and in 6 months becoming the team leader, being a floor manager for an apparel store or being a part time waitress. I used to give my 100% in every odd job that I did during my struggle days. I feel like any other middle class person I did go through my share of hardships and today that experience is my biggest asset. Like for any first generation entrepreneur, I have learned the lessons of management whilst doing the kinds of jobs and this is what has helped me scale my business to this level today. While I was working as a sales person in the apparel store I had developed such instinct that depending on the way a customer entered and the way they dressed I was able to make out what they were looking for. I would give them options based on their fashion sensibility and then give them their own space to discuss and decide what to buy. In later years I found out that unknowingly how I used to tackle the customers was a subject in itself in the MBA curriculum, known as Consumer Behaviour.

3. When did you know that Rubans was your calling?  

– I started doing a business in 2008 and was in corporate merchandising. We did really well and had clients like ESPN Start Sports, Sony Max, IPL, Sab Miller, UB etc. but fashion is something that was very close to my heart. In 2006 I had participated in Gladrags Mrs India and there I saw that a piece of good jewellery could transform the entire look of a person. This thought was simmering inside me for years together. I also had this forever desire of having my own brand thus in 2014 I decided to launch Rubans and rest is history.

4.What has been the worse that you’ve seen in terms of running an
e-commerce company in India?

– Times have changed, Rubans started as an offline brand and we were successfully selling through our own stores. By 2016 we saw that the consumption was going higher but footfalls started to reduce at the Malls and thus the output from the stores started to go down. This was the time when we decided to get onto the online platform too. What started as a small initiative today contributes to 95% of our overall sales. Once Rubans was available on portals like Myntra and Flipkart our horizons opened up, the constraint that you have with a store is that each store caters to a limited audience which usually is customers staying in 5-10 KM vicinity of the store whereas with the online platform you can reach out to the entire country. The E -commerce companies have changed the total dynamics and whether we like it or not the phenomenon is here to stay. The only challenge of running brand on the e-commerce platform is that you need to be on your toes for 24X7 as every platform is competing with each other and striving hard to give a better customer experience; be it fast deliveries or quality products at competitive pricing.

5. What are the perks of being where you are today?

– Today Rubans as a brand is known throughout the country. The love and affection people have given to my brand is my biggest strength. It feels great when I get called to different forums to speak about my journey and also mentor youngsters who are starting now. From my perspective, my journey has just begun. We have great plans in place for Rubans and in coming years we are looking forward to launching Rubans in few other countries where we have a huge Indian Diaspora present.

6. How has self-love helped you reach this position?

– With self-love comes self-respect which is an important ingredient for success. I feel that one must invest time on themselves to dive deep and think of what is it that makes one happy. For me the thought of creating something which I can be proud of after 10 years brings me happiness. All these things motivate and drive you through your journey as the entrepreneurial road is not easy to walk through.  You need a lot of self-motivation to get up when you face failures / challenges and believe me, there will be ample times when you will get tested during your journey.

7. What are the qualities an entrepreneur should have?

– An entrepreneur needs to be a dreamer but these are dreams that do not let you sleep. One needs to be determined and self-motivated as there are going to be many occasions when you will feel like giving up but your conviction in your dream and your own motivation is something that will give you the strength to again get up and start from the scratch.

My mantra of success for any entrepreneur is

  1. Always have a bigger canvas to play
  2. Customise and bring in the uniqueness quotient
  3. Optimise to make it affordable

 8. How is life different for a women entrepreneur as compared to a man being an entrepreneur?

–   I don’t feel that in today’s India there is any discrimination between a male or female entrepreneur. Everyone has to go through their own share of struggles. Today, in order to succeed you need to have a vision and the right strategy to achieve the goal.

9. What would you say to all the little girls dreaming of being an entrepreneur?
– There is nothing like being an entrepreneur as it throws so many challenges on to you that the process itself transforms you to become a better person. So I would like to tell all the little girls to get their basics in place before you plan to jump into the world of entrepreneurship.

My message to all the girls out there is:

Go for It, just do it!

Before you follow your gut feel, Develop a gut.

Before you listen to your heart, feel your heart.

10. What keeps you alive in the darkest of days of running a business?

–   When you get in business each day comes with new challenges. The only way to survive and come out as a winner is to never give up and trust your strength and instincts.

For me it has always been my self-belief that has kept me going even in the darkest times. There is nothing more valuable than self-belief. No amount of coaching or mentoring will help you if you don’t believe in yourself.