Hello, I am Palak Waghani, a 24-year-old female entrepreneur. I am a goal-oriented and motivated individual who has obtained a first-class Bachelor’s degree along with a Certificate of Visual Communication Design after 4 years of hard work. I've lived in Mumbai for most of my life, though I did get to collaborate with companies internationally. I have been nominated for the Kyurioos Design Young Blood Award 2018. I have two hobbies that have the potential to become a post-retirement career choice. But I believe I have finally found purpose in entrepreneurship with a cause.
One dream that I had always seen as a kid was to have a small studio of my own that supports unique concepts and ethical work. It sounds very simple, but it isn't.
I started off with this dream as a kid. I always knew that I would be doing this for my living, didn't know it would be so difficult. "Arts" they say, what is so difficult about it? I joined my college with Ecole intuit lab in Prabhadevi, not knowing the possibilities that were in the field of Graphic Design. I started with illustrating, which I was the best at. Then, I was introduced to various fields in industrial communication - branding, packaging. They interested me so much and made me experience the joy of learning, but that very moment, I was put in front of the class to share my ideas and my thoughts. I had so much to say but could never express. I wanted to learn so much but couldn't ask questions. My take away from college was to be confident, to speak up your visions, your ideas. There is no right or wrong in design, it's about different perspectives. That can be a topic of discussion though.
Then I joined my first internship ever with one of my teachers in school. Roshnee Desai was one of the best mentors I have ever had. I was just a second-year student at that time and she didn't pressurise me much, but I got to know about various departments in a company, the importance of team building and that there is not one person doing all the work. The turning point of my design journey came when I joined a startup for my internship. It was a 5-month internship. They were the toughest 5 months of my career. I had heard that startup life is difficult but it was so different to experience it. I was scolded and shouted by my seniors almost every day. I started questioning if I was in the right direction or if I am even meant for design. Later I realised that this was due to the lack of knowledge and confidence. They were just trying to push me to do better. If it was not for them I would have never been able to speak to a client by myself, answer their queries and feel 100% ownership over the project. Sometimes, knowledge comes the hard way.
I was so inspired by the female entrepreneur leading that studio that it made my desire to fulfil my dream stronger.
After completion of my college, I didn't think I was ready to start my studio yet, I took up a job in the leading advertising agency called TBWA. It was not as difficult this time. I actually loved waking up in the morning and going to work. I had amazing colleagues and mentors that I still learn a lot from. Then I entered the world of true competition. The place where people are fighting for awards and exposure. It was like a race, like the other rats, it was not long before I saw myself in the race as well. Every morning started with client work and after office hours, I sat back working on award briefs. 10 nights in a row 9 in the morning to 5 in the morning. I was a fresher and I was very enthusiastic. I was still very happy with what I was doing until the time for submission came and no one liked the work we had done. I started hating my work. That was the time I realised designing to me was never about someone else's approval. I didn't want one award to decide my feelings towards my work. I did not want to drain myself in the fear of losing. I didn't want to be a part of this race. I wanted to design for small brands, I wanted to help the unique businesses stand out. I wanted to do good work for myself. Though, to my surprise, we got nominated and were invited to the award show. But I had decided my path long before that.
Soon, after the award, I was offered a contract based opportunity to work in PARIS- the city of dreams. Who would say no to this? I left all my thoughts behind, and took it up in a blink! I had to serve my notice period and leave. It took 2 months for the government to respond and allow me to work there. The wait was difficult. Without thinking about anything I flew, with no relative or any help from my family. It was the first confident move I had made for my career. After reaching there I realized it's not going to be so easy. On the first day of my work, I discovered my boss did not speak English, I spoke very mediocre french. I wish I knew more of it. The city of dreams turned to the city of nightmares. He hated me in the beginning, I started fearing they would end the term before the time of completion. I started working on my language at nights. I pushed him every morning to look at my face and give me some work and to try to talk to me. In a few weeks we both understood design itself is a language. He started liking me for the work I did. I used to sit back and work late nights. He started appreciating me for my hard work. Even though he didn't know my language he knew it was not easy for me there (I was a vegetarian as well!). He always tried to comfort me and be my family. My biggest take away from there was to not give up. I realised countries like France are already greatly developed in the field of design.
That is when I decided it was high time I flew back and pursued my dream of starting my studio. I took off on a happy note from Paris.
After coming back I didn't know where to start from. I had an amazing job offer for a senior position. This time I finally decided to give myself this one chance to fulfil my dream. I started off as a freelancer working for various startups, reached out to friends, etc. Nothing worked out.
Slowly I started building my Instagram profile. People started to reach out to me. The journey began. I was so happy to see people appreciating my work and small businesses standing out with the help of my work. They called me for their opening parties. I know this path awaits many challenges as well. But I choose to not give up.
Always be confident! People will talk and forget. It is your journey, live it for yourself and no one else.
Soon after the lockdown. I am happy to say, I will be launching my small studio that will support and work with unique, ethical businesses and help them stand out.