Rimjhim Kumar Charan: the creative maverick
How does one go from the an off the beaten track to one ruled by way out, creative, thoughtful design? Just ask Rimjhim Kumar Charan! As the Partner & Chief Operating Officer of 100KRAFTS, Rimjhim has contentedly embraced her entrepreneurial world where well-structured design is king and creative execution is paramount, and her big smile and a list of happy clients acts as a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of the lady who was welcomed with raised eyebrows in the interior design industry. A mother of two, flexible working hours were a requisite for her and the opportunity to create something from scratch while harbouring a life-long passion for design. And today, Rimjhim is successfully managing both the business and creative side while delivering her clients their dream spaces.
For Rimjhim, sheer hard work has all been worth as she wakes up every day excited to see what the world has to offer. Let's hear straight from the graceful lady herself.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur? What about interior design sparked your interest? When did you feel like this was the right path for you?
I would say I began as an Intrapreneur. This was when Mr Ravi called me for an offer of starting a new Geo – Pune for his start-up 100krafts.com in 2012 in Bangalore. I think deep down I always had a passion for design. I began the journey as a novice in this new City, new industry and a completely new profession.
Have you faced any unusual situations doing business in India as a female entrepreneur?
Thankfully I was never alone and have always been well supported by my Partner Mr Ravi. We have almost always done things parallel and that has been the biggest support system. I must say the challenging part was not being at the entrepreneur level but being in this industry where women are sidelined (this being a labour intensive work). Initially, I was always looked at with raised eyebrows. However, it was due to the fact that I was not from this industry. However when there is a will, one makes the way. The network and relationship building happened at each level whether it was at a carpenter, contractor, designer, architect or supplier and vendors level. With time it was evident that I was doing something which was going to be beneficial to everyone.. the fact that I was a woman or trying to grab someone else's business faded away. At present, am working with 100s of people in Pune and Bangalore in various capacities and at all levels. These are all men and women of different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures….and I must say everyone is sceptical of a stranger or meeting some for the first time but if they see a vision and good work, the "being woman" part is soon put aside and people talk business.
Throw some light on 100krafts and its offerings.
100krafts is an interior solutions platform and we are into 100% customisation. The simplest way to describe what we do is as below. Each house or space we get to design and execute is an opportunity for us to showcase our unique thinking capability each time. I can offer you to see each of our 500 designed and executed projects and each one tells a story about the customer for whom we designed it. From basic consulting to the final furnishings and artifacts selections, its all about managing the customer's core requirements and them stylising it. We have a team of experts who get into the project at the specified milestone and deliver the required consultancy or parameter.
How 100krafts is different from others?
There are 3 types of people who are doing interiors in the market. The basic carpenter/ contractor with no set framework, the individual designer or their firm ready to dig up the opportunity with fingers (nearly impossible) and the companies or the big players who go for the factories while compromising on the customization part. What 100krafts is doing is creating a fine balance between being professional and giving good finishing as well as going a step ahead and aligning with the customer and providing the final highly customised interiors. We make sure the theme and style of the house are well maintained and it must be a fruitful investment for the customer at the end of the day. The Value they get is long term and can be refreshed a few times using our smart solutions concepts and furnishing consultancy even later. All of the above makes us different. In addition to that, we are now becoming a haven for the contracting teams making their life stable and giving hopes to them so that their kids have a better future and therefore there are a socially more responsible 100krafts coming us soon.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
With a lot of support systems. That's the only way. Support from my husband and inlaws in understanding my aspirations and appreciating my work. Helping with me with managing and encouraging me to work even odd hours as its required in this industry. My parents and family (sister Jaya Kumar and brother, Aditya) always available to talk when in the low zone. and yes finally the household help … even they understand how to support a person like me who is always occupied on calls, with meetings and sometimes even travel.
At work, the support systems are different and more needed. They come from Ravi of course. Apurva, who is now the BDand lifestyle consultant as well as the seniormost member of our 100krafts team, Arch Minakshi, the senior architect of our firm, The technical and operations experts Sai (in Bangalore) and Sumitra (in Pune) and the full team. Their attitude toward work is more than inspiring. Till a point of time I was training them….and now I started observing and learning from them the way they manage.
If you could describe yourself in a few words what would they be?
A thoughtful, pleasant person with a multidimensional approach to life and work, I have a passion to revolutionize the highly unstructured Interior Industry. I love to elevate people's lifestyles and their living standards so that they can get their dream home: A Home which reflects their personality and a home which they have a memorable experience Krafting with us.
Did you have a mentor to guide you through your professional journey?
Throughout the journey, my guide and mentor has been my friend and Partner Mr Ravi Roshan. He has learnt about the business on the ground and helped me start off on a good base. Then my efforts to do the same have been well supported by him.
How are entrepreneurship and working women important for India?
In the words of Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, "Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women are empowered, the society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential as their thoughts and their value systems lead to the development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation." Looking globally: India currently ranks 70 out of 77 nations on the Female Entrepreneurship Index, but moving up that index might not be as difficult as it seems. According to Forbes India, women comprise about 30 per cent of senior corporate management positions in India, which is notably higher than the global average (24 per cent). But when it comes to the gender gap in the overall workforce, India is one of the worst countries in the world — 113th out of 135. I feel entrepreneurship gives more power, more flexibility, more financial freedom as well as more status to women. We definitely need more working women in India. The age-old stereotypical position of women should change and the nation and each family must recognize the value.
What advice would you give to other businesswomen who want to thrive in a male-dominated industry?
Working to bring other women into leadership is an important way to advance the change we need. But it's also true that the most critical change starts with shaping ourselves, the area where we have the most control. Cultivating characteristics including self-confidence, and self-investment helps.
How does a day in your life look like?
Hahaha…that question is like a pinch of salt on a fresh cut…well, it starts with morning 5 alarm. Till 8 am the imp chores of sending them to school is over and after that, I begin my meditations and self-care activities. The workday starts ideally from 10 am with me working on the urgent and important tasks. A final round of discussion with the core members at the end of the day on updates. This is, however, a recent routine and earlier it was not a disciplined one which I regret. Highly essential to set a proper time slot per activity so that important things do not get missed.
Are you a risk taker?
In life, if one does not become a risk taker there is no way one should expect to get a new or unique or at least a better result than what everyone else has been getting. Taking risk means going out of the comfort zone… am someone who gets scared of the comfort zone 😉
What do you like to do the most when you are not executing your business operation?
My favourite pastimes these days are reading spiritual, self-development, leadership books and other than that talking to my both daughters. That's the best form of relaxation and satisfaction from my 11 and an 8-year-old bundle of joys- their innocent, beautiful stories, imaginations, discussions, sweet problems.
Describe the most memorable incident of your professional life.
Professional life has been quite a roller coaster. Having been a part of 100s of projects in 100krafts, there are equally interesting memories from each one. When I go to each award function we get invited to for our work or grihapravesh after we hand over the property and I see our clients happy, fully satisfied and showing off their homes to their friends and relatives, it revives the passion I have for beautifying homes…the spark comes back again to do more. There is no such extraordinary moment but many moments and I got equal delight from each. Gave me the feeling that this family will live here and be proud of their house every-single-day they wake up and see their favourite wall or room or corner. The final product of the interior is this – creation of smiles and long-term ones.
One word that describes you the best…
I see myself as a graceful lady
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
My best hobby is to decorate my space. Having the same as my profession and with added benefits of meeting and learning from so many individuals and organizations from various industries and walks of life has been my best experience. Having a fairly young team to manage, I am also in constant touch with the young energetic minds and that's refreshing.
What are your plans on retiring?
It's a dream actually…to be in a place like GOA, peaceful serene and beautiful… near the ocean. Exploration will never end and I would be always travelling to new places which I miss very much now due to the need of the business now.
How would you like people to remember you and your company?
Certainly as a socially responsible person associated with a Socially responsible company. A person with a vision to improve the overall status of the people associated with the industry. An example who set the standards for the processes and thoughts to design a home. A company that was created with the best systems, people and processes to deliver that vision.
What is your favourite metaphor for describing entrepreneurship?
I recently read an answer by Dayne shuda, founder of the Ghost blog writer and would like to quote him full for this answer. Couldn't think of anything better. "In The Wizard of Oz there is the famous scene where the house crashes down from the tornado and Dorothy opens the front door and everything is in beautiful colour…Entrepreneurship is like opening that door and seeing a whole new world. Many people, like Dorothy, just want to get back to Kansas. Entrepreneurs can't imagine ever going back."
Is there anything you enjoy more than being an entrepreneur?
Yes, I have lately discovered I am highly inclined towards the spiritual side and our Vedic past. Learning and implementing the same in bits and pieces gives me a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction. It's like getting back to the roots. Be it books, blogs, rituals, mantras…I feel like learning more and indulging more.
If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you're the best in the world at?
I am the best at conceptualising an overview of any module, scenario at a Macro level. I am quite good at comprehending problems and providing solutions for the same.