7 firebrand entrepreneurs on the career lessons they never teach you in school


7 firebrand entrepreneurs on the career lessons they never teach you in school

"Keep raising the glass ceiling for yourself"

By ELLE team  August 8th, 2018

They came they saw, and they did it their way. Dressed in the classic white shirt — but reinterpreted for 2018 — seven firebrand entrepreneurs let us in on their best career advice.

When 35-year-old Vanika Choudhary decided to quit her successful career to open the hip Sequel Bistro & Juice Bar, her friends and family were naturally perplexed. “When I was starting it, a lot of people supported me, but many also called me crazy for wanting to quit a cushy corporate job to start it,” she recalls. A loyal clientele and much publicity later, she insists, “Don’t ever let anybody decide or speak for you, for that matter.” Superblogger and founder of Miss Malini, Malini Agarwal, found herself on a similar journey. “It started off as a personal hobby, a blog that was just me navigating through my life, and it has taught me that authenticity is key—being real makes all the difference. If you listen to your inner voice and speak to it as you would to your best friend, it will make a connection that will last well beyond your blog or social media post.”

Explore the life lessons no college can teach you with some of our favourite entrepreneurs

VANIKA CHOUDHARY, 35, Founder, Sequel Bistro & Juice Bar

"I am glad we started a movement [with Sequel]. It is not [just] a salad or juice bar, it is a way of living, an extension of my house kitchen. When I was starting it, a lot of people supported me, but many also called me crazy for wanting to quit a cushy corporate job to start it. Don’t ever let anybody decide or speak for you, for that matter."

Poplin shirtdress, AM.IT by Amit Aggarwal. 18K gold and diamond necklace, earrings and rings; Zoya - A Tata Product


AABHA BAKAYA, 37, Founder, AB Network

"My journey—from 15 years as an anchor on business news television, to now exploring the dynamic environment of new media with my own content company—has shown me one thing: always be present and mindful, and keep raising the glass ceiling for yourself."

Embellished cotton poplin shirt, Dhruv Kapoor. Denim shorts, Marks & Spencer. 18K gold and sapphire earrings, 18K gold and diamond bracelet; both prices on request, Zoya - A Tata Product


RENU OBEROI, 44, Founder and creative director, Renu Oberoi Luxury Jewellery

"It [jewellery design] began as a hobby for me. I was creating pieces for my family and friends because I had a flair for it. I believe that diamond and precious stone jewellery is something that is passed on over generations, and not a season- or trend-based thing. So create, don’t copy."

Cotton top, Chola. Polyester pants, Tommy Hilfiger. Leather heels, Oberoi’s own. Leather bag, Louis Vuitton. Acrylic earrings, Varnika Arora at Minerali.


MALINI AGARWAL, 41, Founder, MissMalini.com

"MissMalini.com started off as a personal hobby, a blog that was just me navigating through my life, and it has taught me that authenticity is key—being real makes all the difference. If you listen to your inner voice and speak to it as you would to your best friend, it will make a connection that will last well beyond your blog or social media post."

Cotton shirt, Diksha Khanna. Jeans, Calvin Klein. Faux leather heels, Aldo. Leather bag, Dior. 18K gold, diamond and tanzanite necklace, price on request, Zoya - A Tata Product


AVANI YASHWIN, 31, Founder, Happy In The Head

"Seven years ago, I started Happy In The Head on my terrace, with six cats. I worked to make people feel good at a time when the industry was focusing on the shape of your face or the colour of your skin. The beauty of it was that, despite being so underground, people who were really seeking this mindset found it. You have to follow what you feel rather than what the ‘experts’ are dictating you do."

Cotton shirt, Rishta by Arjun Saluja. Denim jacket, Levi’s. Diamond and ruby cuff and amethyst ring; Zoya - A Tata Product


RADHA KAPOOR KHANNA, 33, Founder and executive director, Indian School Of Design & Innovation; and founder, DOIT Retail Brands

"A lot of people don’t find what they love easily. I did—I love and live to design. It is at the core of my work, and keeps my creative juices flowing. It’s all about finding something that excites you and makes you feel free." 

Wool-blend shirt, BODICE STUDIO. Lace pants, Genes Lecoanet Hemant. Diamond earrings, Khanna’s own. 18K gold and pearl ring, 18K gold, diamond and tanzanite ring; Zoya - A Tata Product


KAYAAN CONTRACTOR, 32, Social media influencer

"Even if the initial seed of the vision is mine, everyone working on the project is its gardener. For me, a true collaboration is something that showcases everyone’s work. The trick is to not feel let-down if things don’t work out, because they don’t always, and that’s okay. Just be humble, and put your best foot forward."

Cotton poplin shirt, Atsu. Jeans, Levi’s.
Diamond and tanzanite necklace and earrings,and diamond ring; Zoya - A Tata Product


Photographs: Sushant Chhabria

Styling: Rahul Vijay

Inputs: Divya Gursahani

Hair: Michel Baltazar/Jean Claude Biguine

Make up: Smita Sharma

Assisted by: Divya Gursahani and Ishani Desai