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Business Lessons from The Bead Woman of Varanasi | Shilpi Singh

Rita Beads
Varanasi has become my second home, and WATC India members may have deciphered my love for Varanasi by now. The city is full of turns and twists, interesting hidden facts and stories. It has never, ever failed to surprise me.

It was one of my early visits to this mystic city and I was finding means to return to Delhi when I landed in this colourful, beautifully-stacked shop of beads. The bead shop appeared as a regular shop but somehow it was not just another shop. Very soon I found the X Factor – the owner and proprietor of the shop, Rita. A mother of four, Rita started her journey with a ‘Tokri’ (basket) of beads right in front of her present shop. In a span of 10 years, the small ‘Tokri’ has bloomed into this lovely store.

Always being interested in women and their journey, my conversation revealed the X Factor of this dynamic business woman who probably can’t even spell ‘business’…


Rita is always bubbling with energy. A smiling face, an interesting conversationalist, she is out there to help you pick up the beads, customise the combination for you, and if you are interested, to take you through the difficult process of making these special Banarsi Beads.

Hard Work

Oh yes, Rita is an extremely hard working woman. You can never miss her in the shop. Always welcoming you with her smile. And like most of us, she has a house to manage and a family to care for. She can hang up her boots now but she has chosen not to. Work is her religion.


Rita is a proud woman. Proud of her efforts, proud of her struggles, proud of her success. She has worked hard and she deserves every bit of her success and she is not shy of accepting her success – a quality which I often find wanting among our highly qualified and experienced, successful corporate women executives. The buy in of a product, service or opinion is so high when the customer feels that confidence and pride.

Positive Outlook

I have never found Rita complaining or cribbing about anything – neither life nor business, neither husband nor mother in law. Her take on life is always optimistic, full of simple, yet useful insights. The glee on her face and the enthusiasm in her voice brightens a dull day. As a customer, you wish to visit her shop just to get pepped up.

Going the Extra Mile

In times when every action is measured and needs accountability in respect of ROI, Rita goes that extra mile for her customers. Spending an hour to source a local herb for her client ensured she had a client for life and more through the phenomenal WOM.

The world around is full of phenomenal women. Closing with Maya Angelou’s words:

“It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

That’s Rita!

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