Women's History Month: Lessons from 3 inspiring women who have made a mark digitally with their successful ventures
While celebrating women and their achievements should not be restricted to one day or month, March is celebrated as Women’s History Month and it is the perfect time to celebrate women achievers. While there have been many women who have made a mark in their fields, the new-age women have also taken the digital medium by storm, particularly those who have easily adapted social media and content creation platforms to not only share their stories but also create profitable businesses. We spoke with three such women who are shining examples of being digital icons.
Maithili Thakur, who is an Indian singer, spoke to Indulge about her journey in music and how she started out. “I am a singer trained in Indian Classical music. I perform Folk Music including Sufi, Bhajans, Ghazals, etc.
“I was quite young when I started my journey in Indian Classical Music. So, I don’t remember how old I was. But I remember seeing my grandfather organise and sing in Kirtans back in our village house in Bihar, when I was four or five years old. I remember seeing him sing with such devotion that led me to be really interested to take up singing.”
Elaborating on her journey and how it picked up pace, Maithili said, “While I received a lot of love when I had participated in singing competitions at a national level, Facebook provided me with a platform to express myself sustainably. I remember uploading my first video on my Facebook account. It was a folk song in the Maithili language, and a lot of people, even abroad, liked my video and appreciated the singing. I feel that was enough for me to be motivated to upload another video, and the cycle of regular uploads began.
Then, someone suggested that I create a Facebook page. And after four years of its creation, my page is soon going to cross the 10 million followers mark. Facebook has enabled me to showcase my culture across the world - in countries that I could have never even thought of. And I am confident enough to say that I will definitely keep singing and sharing it with my followers through Facebook!” she said in delight.
When asked about the challenges she faced with regard to the music industry and how she overcame it, Maithili explained, “I feel extremely lucky to have my parents’ support and have faith in me. My family, including my brothers, have always stood by me, irrespective of the consequences, to give our best performance, always. I believe people have usually recognised that and showered their immense love for what I do and how I do it. While the classical music industry can be quite challenging, my family’s support has always been comforting enough for me to keep going.”
Talking about the recent ventures she undertook with regard to her profession, Maithili said she was currently trying to cover singing in all Indian languages. “While I want to innovate wherever I can with my singing, I am currently trying to cover all Indian languages. Given the vast scope, the challenge is daring, but the support and love of my listeners motivate me to keep going. I have recently been performing Abhangs and Natya Sangeet in Marathi, for which many people have shared their appreciation with me.”
On a concluding note, Maithili urged parents to be supportive towards their kid(s)’s talents and encourage them, “My personal opinion is that parents should listen closely to what their kids really want to do. While studies are crucial, there are also a lot of other things where a child’s interest might lie. I just want every parent to take this interest into consideration and invest in their child accordingly. You never know — they might come across as prodigies in their own fields that they are passionate about. While every parent wants the best for their child, I want them to take cognizance of their child’s interest areas and support them.”
Moving on to the next successful woman on our list, we have Madhura Bachal, who is the creator of the YouTube channel ‘MadhurasRecipe’ and co-founder of MRMQ FOOD LLP.
Madhura puts out videos on food, and more specifically, regional Maharashtrian cuisine. To add another feather to her hat, Madhura also happens to be the author of a recipe book that focuses on traditional and forgotten Maharashtrian recipes.
Talking about her own in-house spice brand, ‘MadhurasRecipe Masala’, Madhura said, “The main vision behind the spice brand is to make rustic Maharashtrian spices available for easy and authentic use.” She added that in the initial stages, their marketing experts made an estimate that it would take about six months to sell the first 500 packets. However, they broke their own record when they sold more than 1,500 packets on the very first day and ran out of stock!
Madhura revealed that she began this venture way back in 2009 as a food blogger who posted content on Marathi cuisine and that she had been on maternity leave when the idea first struck her.
“In 2009, I was in a full-time banking job, and well-settled life. I utilised my maternity leave time to create recipes, click nice pictures and write blogs. After amassing enough confidence that I can take food blogging as a full-time career, I resigned from my well-paid job to pursue my passion.”
She said she was motivated to blog specifically on this topic since she could not find many recipes on Marathi cuisine. “My journey started as a food blogger in 2009. Around that time, I used to write blogs about Marathi cuisine.
“Initially, whenever I used to browse Marathi food recipes on the Internet or on Facebook, I hardly use to find any. That inspired me to start with my own blog with a vision to create awareness around Marathi cuisine.
“Around that time, Facebook was the only social media platform that one could use to share their food blogs and food-related content and share their creativity to garner a large scale interest.
“I eventually switched to my own domain MadhurasRecipe. I knew that I couldn't stop just with blog writing. I was looking forward to various platforms to help make content available to a larger chunk of people.
“Hence, I started creating videos on video streaming platforms. But again, the more the merrier. So, Facebook as a social media platform was of great help. Initially, I used to share recipe images on Facebook and used to post detailed recipes and share video links, which really helped increase the reach.
“In 2016, when Facebook launched its own video streaming feature, it helped me reach a larger number of people through videos. And ever since, we have seen massive growth in terms of followers and the love for regional cuisines,” Madhura asserted.
Explaining the challenges Madhura faced with regard to her profession, she said, “With my banking background, I had little to no idea about technical things about creating a blog, writing content, taking good quality pictures and using the first-ever social media platform like Facebook to brand our blog. It was a gradual process for me. However, to be frank, keeping up to date with the latest tools and technology did get a little overwhelming at times.”
As a message to other budding entrepreneurs and content creators, Madhura said, “I believe that in order to get started with anything one needs to have a vision. With vision comes a roadmap on how to move forward - something that has really helped me to come this far from 2009 to 2021. 12 long years - 12 years makes one tapa.
“All I can say is that if ‘Content is King, Consistency is Kong!’”
The next person on our list is Kamiya Jani, who is the founder of Curly Tales, a platform that provides recommendations for food and travel.
Kamiya Jani disclosed that she had been a journalist for 10 years at a reputed media house before beginning this venture in 2017, which has now grown to be the biggest platform for food and travel recommendations in India.
Kamiya spoke about why she left her job in the news organisation and took up Curly Tales. “Back in my anchoring days, although I enjoyed that stint entirely, I used to feel pretty confined in the space. While on the job, I strongly felt that I wanted to enjoy myself exploring the world.
“When I switched to the new journey, I was already a mom of a three-year-old daughter. I wanted to give an opportunity to myself and pursue my dreams with a simple thought — if not now, then when.
That is when it all began. I gave myself a time limit of one year, thinking that I will boomerang back into my job. But as fate had it, there was no looking back.”
She said that she had also figured out that not many recommendation videos had circulated on social media back then, and used this to her advantage. “I realised that not too many platforms were making videos around this. That is when I forayed into videos, which was very well received by everyone who watched them,” Kamiya claimed.
She also spoke about their progress and revealed that they were now doing celebrity interviews and brunches, which came to be known as one of their most unique ideas.
“We are also doing a show called ‘Teri Gali Mein’, where I meet with influencers in their neighbourhood and pick out unique food recommendations, while also highlighting their life journeys. This concept has helped us to build an instant connection with people living in that particular area,” Kamiya added.
Moving on to talk about their other interesting ventures, the founder said, “We also have a show called ‘Street Stories’ where we feature street food vendors who have had it tough in life, but despite the challenges, continue to serve quality food which has got them a good local following. Through this show, our intent is to highlight and help local businesses, for which the audience has specially given a welcoming response.”
She also accredited social media for the speed at which her ideas picked up and garnered attention, “If one goes by the statistics, Curly Tales is the biggest on Facebook, than any other social media platforms.
I feel that Facebook has enabled us to connect to a much wider audience, especially with the incomparable reach that the platform has given us. It’s astonishing how Facebook has enabled us to reach all age groups, which has allowed us to continuously experiment with content formats,” she concluded.