With International Women’s Day around the corner, one thinks of the strong female figures in one’s life. I am sure many would agree that our mothers are often the first female mentors in our lives . My mother, Harleen Anand, has been an inspiration and the driving force behind my desire to simultaneously raise a family and work in a field that I am passionate about. She has taught me that achieving work – life balance is easily done with conviction and care. My first mentor, most steadfast advisor, system of support and inspiration for my creativity – she is all this and more. I have interviewed her in today’s post, as I interview celebrities and people of public renown for my newspaper columns – because for me, she is the most real of celebrities.
TIPS ON ACHIEVING WORK – LIFE BALANCE:
Q1. From being a home-maker to a successful fashion designer. Please tell us about your journey so far.
Ans: When I got married after I completed my graduation, I did not have any specific career path planned. I was heavily involved in managing my home and that kept me very busy. I enjoy cooking but most of all I have always enjoyed designing clothes, painting and designing interiors. My family and friends encouraged me through the years, saying my talent was exceptional and that I should think of using it commercially. Quite fortuitously, I landed a job with a leading fashion house in the city and there was no stopping me after that. Over a span of almost 35 years, I have had a very fulfilling and lucrative career as a fashion designer in Delhi. All this was done without compromising on raising my children or running the household which we shared with my in-laws. Achieving work – life balance is not an impossible task when you have your priorities in order.
Q2. What challenges have you faced in your chosen industry, as a woman and as the owner of your own business?
Ans: To be very honest, my priority has always been my family. Even though my business of clothes kept me on my toes all the time, I never wanted to miss a single event in my children’s lives while they were growing up. Initially, this led to situations where I would neglect my work as I was very busy with my family and home. Eventually, I worked out a business model that was manageable and would help me in achieving work –life balance. I decided not to make it too large in spite of its popularity and growth potential. The path I’ve chosen was the correct one for me, as I have always been satisfied with my work and the gratification that I’ve received from it.
Q3. On the flip-side, do your strengths as a woman aid you in your professional journey?
Ans: Yes, I felt that I had an advantage being a woman handling this business. I feel all women connect with me easily – from young girls to older ladies. They find that I’m able to translate their ideas and preferences well in the final outcome. Somehow, I have always felt that I could read their mind and make them exactly what they wanted and something they would feel flattered in. I feel another factor in achieving work-life balance is that I’ve never been the bread winner of the family. So, I could work just for the passion of it without being under any pressure.
Q4. Please share a few rewarding instances – of fun and fulfilling experiences – from your journey so far.
Ans: My work has rewarded me with endless compliments from women of all ages. There have been older women who have told me that they keep the clothes made by me in a muslin cloth as they are special and need to be cherished. I have seen my young clients dancing with sheer joy and pleasure after wearing clothes designed by me. Apart from awarding me financial independence, my work has given me immense confidence in myself and taught me the important life skill of handling varied people of different mind-sets.
Q5. Has the pandemic affected your business? What steps have you taken to meet these challenges?
Ans: I had to stop my work completely for a while due to the pandemic as I could not risk interacting with my workers. Further, people stopped getting new clothes made as they did not have any formal engagements and no events to attend which would require semi-formal or formal clothes to wear. However, once lockdown was lifted, I opened up again and have been getting steady orders from my regular clientele since then – everything from casual to heavy outfits and even embellished party masks!
Q6. What is on the cards for the future – both for your label and for you?
Ans: With work having restarted in full swing, I am planning to launch my summer collection soon. It will consist of casual easy breezy outfits. As most of us continue to work from home, people want to look put together yet be comfortable and my collection will be perfect for that purpose. I hope to receive a good response and take it from there.
With a fulfilling career and family life, Harleen Anand is an inspiration for everyone in achieving work – life balance.
This blog post is part of SpeakEasy Blogging Challenge hosted by Dipika (https://www.gleefulblogger.com/5-smart-kitchen-appliances-for-indian-homes/) and Ruchi (https://wigglingpen.com/importance-of-extra-curricular-activities-with-school-academics/)
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