It’s Women’s Day, and while there shouldn’t be only one day in a year to celebrate women, it’s a good day to piggyback on its popularity to applaud some young young power professionals in India who believe that half-hearted efforts get you nowhere, and therefore, one must surrender oneself completely to achieve her goals. Featuring seven million-dollar ladies who are making waves in their fields, and setting major travel goals for their peers.
I) Karyna Bajaj, Executive Director, KA Hospitality
Bajaj went to study in Switzerland when she was 11 and has lived abroad most of her life. She started her journey with family owned KA Hospitality as an intern, and has learned the trade from the ground up. She loves exploring new cultures and uses her experiences to repurpose spaces: an eatery that offers working lunches to executives and doubles as a bar for after-work drinks. A collector of shot glasses, she is obsessed with Japanese cuisine and Stranger Things.
II) Swati Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro
Swati Bhargava, co-founder of CashKaro, India’s largest online cashback site, has not only broken the glass ceiling but also the stereotype that women can’t be in the business of money. As a businesswoman, Bhargava remembers having dealt with people who’d assume that women have little knowledge about technology or finance. In fact, mathematics has always been her strong point. In 2013, she seized the opportunity of the growing demand for cashback companies in the UK, and together with her husband, launched PouringPounds.com, her first entrepreneurial venture. She brought CashKaro to India, two years later. Today, her company is funded by Ratan Tata and Kalaari Capital and she’s got all the validation she needs in her journey as a businesswoman.
III) Shilpi Marwaha, Theatre Artist
There is an unmissable childlike energy about Shilpi Marwaha, the theatre artist who has been pursuing social and political change through art for a better part of her life. Shilpi is the Creative Head of Sukhmanch Theatre, where she pushes hundreds of child artists and budding theatre actors to move out of their comfort zones and experience life, raw and real. Her solo play ‘A Woman Alone,’ directed by Arvind Gaur of the Asmita Theatre, is considered one of the boldest plays in India. With expressions so strong, and a voice so bold, she has the audience’s undivided attention throughout the performance. It is this dedication towards her craft that brought Oscar winning director Ross Kauff man to India to shoot a television series based on her life.
IV) Pooja Dhingra, Founder, Le 15 Patisserie
With her iconic macarons, Chef Pooja Dhingra brought a style status to baked goods. Her popularity was a result of a rigorous training at Le Cordon Bleu and her persistence of classical French baking techniques prior to setting up the business. But before all that, she recalls, she has her mother and aunt to thank, for their lessons in brownies and chocolate-making. Apart from four Le15 outlets in Mumbai, Dhingra has set up a learning space for baking enthusiasts called Studio Fifteen Culinary Centre where she brings chefs who offer classes featuring recipes that use regular ingredients one can find at home. The 31-year-old has just released her second book— The Wholesome Kitchen—her first being The Big Book of Treats, an Indian bestseller and her gift to homemakers who enjoy baking.
V) Mitali Sahani, Co-founder & Head Chef, The Bombaykery
In 2015, Bombaykery started as a self-funded project—a popup—under the brand name of Cloud-Bakery. Three years down, Delhi NCR’s favourite baker firmly sticks to her brand ethos and believes that people eat through their eyes before they actually dig in. Sahani’s Bombaykery is a slice of Mumbai in Delhi (she moved here after her marriage); the brand has two outlets so far, and both project a bold and fun personality in taste and design. She has plans to expand the bakery to neighbouring countries, but for now, she has added savoury items inspired by Mumbai snacks to the menu, apart from rolling out artisanal coffee.
VI) Radhika Goenka, Founder, The Lingerie Shop
Heiress to the multi-billion dollar textile group, Welspun, Radhika Goenka was recently in news for changing the way Indian women buy their lingerie. She introduced the revolutionary, lingerie-vending machine in the Indian market—it allows women to shop for products in public at the push of a button, without judgement. After making its debut in Mumbai’s Inorbit Mall last year, the second lingerie-vending machine by The Lingerie Shop is all set for a launch at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
VII) Shraddha Bhansali, Founder, Candy And Green
The all-vegetarian, garden-to-table restaurant, Candy & Green, was an instant hit when it launched last year in South Mumbai’s Breach Candy neighbourhood. At the heart of its affairs was a 25-year-old vegan restaurateur, smitten by ‘clean-eating,’ a concept she picked up during her years at Boston University. Just in time for the restaurant’s first anniversary celebrations, Bhansali tells us how she keeps her menu interesting, and her life even more.