Ananya Birla

She had the KNACK to create – Aakanksha Panigrahi

She had the KNACK to create – Aakanksha Panigrahi

A woman who walks in PURPOSE doesn’t have to chase PEOPLE or  OPPORTUNITIES.  

Her light causes PEOPLE and OPPORTUNITIES to pursue her

Nack Studios is a venture started by Aakanksha Kulkarni Panigrahi. It comprises of a team of trained Architects/Interior Designers/Product Designers/Graphic designers, who work together to deliver end to end design solutions without any rough edges.

Aakanksha  has an experience of 5 years as a practicing Architect and also has been part of projects related to companies like AirTel, Religare Laboratories, Reliance Laboratories, amongst other Residential and Office Projects. She is currently a teacher at Amity School of Architecture and Planning as a Visiting Faculty.

 Tell us about your journey of becoming an entrepreneur. What was the reaction of the society, were your parents skeptical ? And how did you overcome them?

Luckily, my parents have always been supportive of my decisions. They’ve taught me to be independent and confident about my dreams in life and fortunately for me, in terms of taking this decision, I have only gotten immense support from them and my venture would’nt have been possible without their help.

As far as society is concerned, I did have some people come up to me and say don’t you think a job is a better option? But having a strong support system, made me not focus onthose but only my journey forward.

 You took a bold decision to take the risk of quitting an easy living life to being what you are today, what challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge for a startup or an entrepreneur is to bravely wade through times when you have no work and you need to fetch some. The challenge is to constantly create sources of income and to not get disheartened by loses. It is very important, because now a days a lot of youngsters are getting pulled in by the glamour of working independently without realizing that there is immense hardwork in getting to success. and THAT,  I think is the biggest challenge.

What does your normal day begins with? And what motivates you to keep going?

My normal day begins with a rush to get to office on time. Also, because a challenge of working for your own self is that you need to take office timings and discipline seriously. Unless you don’t take your own organization seriously , no one else will. Therefore, I dress formally each day, and get to office on time and treat the day as I would if I had been working under someone.

Well, motivation is the independence and the wish to create something larger than life. To be able to generate a corpus of work through one’s intellect and vision and to be able to deliver a design purely on intellect and see it executed and in reality on the ground.

How important is family support in this journey? How well has your husband and father supported you? Give this piece of advice to other fathers, brothers and husbands.

The support and encouragement of your life partner and your parents is a must. Luckily, my handful of people whom I constantly lean on – my parents, my husband, my sister and brother in law – have been able to pull me out and appreciate and encourage me on my journey through my ups and downs.

After marriage, it’s very critical to have an understanding husband, for family life and professional life to run smoothly. I have a husband who has lent me financial support, when I started off, showed immense faith in my capabilities and most importantly, maintained trust in my vision. From handling the house, to washing machine loads, to cooking,  it takes a lot to be a good juggler. Small things do make a huge difference, especially when the society judges your capability to become a successful woman entrepreneur.

One needs to be married to a man who sees beyond that conventional image and understands the intellectual needs of a woman too! 

 Do you realise that you have broken a number of social taboos? For instance, “Ambitious women are not good mothers” etc. What do you have to say about people believing in such things?

Let me tell you! We call ourselves liberated but the moment it comes to our women , we judge them on exactly these parameters!

I have NOTHING to say to people who believe in these things, why waste energy – but I would certainly have something to say to women who are subjected to these comments/taunts/judgement – PLEASE DONT CARE! I used to get extremely frustrated with these judgements at one point of time, but overtime I realised that I am being more unfair to myself and my child as well by paying heat to these unnecessary judgements. It is important for us to understand that our self worth is innate . If we search for it on the outside , then we would end up not being fair towards anything we do in life.

What sacrifices have you made in your personal life to be a successful womenpreneur?

I work from home so as to manage my kid and to be able to successfully handle my work needs. It needs immense discipline, but correct and timely execution is all that is required. There are no holidays for me and I know that because of my work, family time does get sacrificed,  but these are the things that can be worked out with time. I have my priorities set and I know I can balance it well.

What are the biggest challenges that you face in work (Product, strategy, hiring, selling etc.)

Nowadays, people have this swanky vision of an office and learning has becomes secondary! so hiring enthusiastic young people is definitely a task. Though luckily, I have not been quite fortunate. Your strategy needs to be completely unique to suit the needs of your vision and eventually, you will understand the needs of your business and things will fall into place.

Tell us a little about how you have grown as a person in this journey. Also, please do give a small piece of advice for future women entrepreneurs.

Oh ! the growth is immense. In the beginning, you need to be the office boy, the peon, the founder, the CEO , the accountant, the mentor/the teacher, the employee, the employer – everything rolled into one. I have learnt to be patient with failures, I have learnt not to be too disappointed with not having work, I have learnt to be confident about my abilities and trust my system. The growth on professional level is always there, but at a personal level, is immense satisfaction. The growth is exponential if you take things positively. It’s quite similar to bringing up a baby, with its own set of  ups and down.

Although, it’s painful but in the end, a very rewarding subject! You have to experience it to believe it!


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