“I had to make my own rules” – Upasana Makati Talks About Creating India’s First Braille Magazine

“I am in a space where I am basically combining a social need and turning it into a business.”

Founder of “White Print” India’s first lifestyle magazine in Braille, Upasana Makati calls her decision to create White Print a middle of the night thought.

“I love reading my newspaper every morning. So I just wondered as to what is it that the visually impaired read each morning, and that was the whole seed of the thought.”

This thought had a very deep impact and refused to leave her at peace. She said that she tried to find answers scanning the internet, but was left with nothing. Eventually, she went on to approach the “National Association for the Blind” the very week. But even then she failed to receive a substantial answer. She was left with the hard realization that there was nothing available.

“Within 3 months of getting this thought, quit my job and started working towards this magazine.”

On May 2013, after 9 months of working towards it, “White Print” was out. It didn’t stop right there. Soon the magazine became the first of its kind to introduce Braille advertising to corporate.

“The visually impaired use every single brand that is promoted and marketed for the sighted. So why couldn’t they have an ad in Braille?”

She calls this a serious challenge because Upasana took it in her stride to chase the corporate and get them to advertise for their brands.

In May 2019, White Print is set to complete 6 years. She also talks about their foray into children’s publishing, where they have come up with books for also the sighted, along with the blind, to ‘promote inclusion of the values they learned in the past 6 years’.

But the most significant returns, she exclaims, has been from the visually impaired community.

“They love it. It’s overwhelming to even listen to their responses.”

She talks about the value and importance that is given to just a magazine. She highlights how, what the sighted take for granted, for the visually-impaired, it means a lot.

“Even if a magazine reaches 2 days later, they are eagerly waiting for it.”

In an age of technology, whether people are really going to read Braille is debated. However, for the community, it’s a huge gesture, she expresses. Just like replacing physical books with e-books, it is an experience that adds up. Their love and support have been the very fuel for the survival of White Print.

Talking about her journey, she says how every day is a learning curve, and making mistakes is part of the process.

“I didn’t have an example to follow. I had to make my own rules, learn, break them and sort of formulate my own journey and strategy.”

“I am a single person organization. We are non-funded. A bootstrap company from day one”

Upasana compares the experience of creating White Print to that of raising a child, she can nourish it the way she wants.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done, right from the foundation and that’s how we are going. We are taking one step at a time and following what’ve been sort of preaching.”

She says that it is never going to be easy; that there will always be new challenges. But by then one becomes equipped to handle them and that’s growth. There may be many routes. But the one route that is tried and tested is hard-work.

There is no right time for anyone to begin an idea. You need to start working towards it. You need to believe in your idea and have no Plan B. That makes one equipped to handle all challenges.

“You have to be so convinced about Plan A that you put in all your energies.”

Finally, learning from other people’s challenges that everyone else is also fighting their own battles, this enables building a great support system, she observes.

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