I am from a Gujarati family and did my graduation at Villa Marie college, Somajiguda. I married Anand Pohankar eight years ago. I qualified in graphic designing and web designing, which served well in my involvement in Parivartan Software and Multimedia, my husband’s company. My entrepreneurial skills too progressed through my association with the company, with total appreciation and support from my family. Eventually, Own a Masterpiece – OAM – was started by my husband and I took over the responsibility of managing its sales and marketing, along with my husband and sister-in-law Mrs Shruti Kulkarni. At OAM, I also work with my mother-in-law, Mrs Lalit Pohankar, who is the central creative contributor to the organisation.
I am delighted to be working in such a creative enterprise and enjoy the freedom and excitement of handling duty both at home and at work.
Tell us about the company Own a Masterpiece
Own A Masterpiece was incorporated in 2012. The company was started as an extension to my mother-in-law’s passion for painting and craft. She was already engaging her creative talent in painting and creating handmade gift items for festival occasions and corporate gifting for Parivartan, putting her hobby to such good use from home. We developed the idea to a larger and professional scale and as a result, the company took form and began functioning as a brand.
We create artfully-painted and decorated articles viz. keychain holders, wall clocks, tea coasters, rangolis, pooja chowkis and pen stands to name a few. These products are useful articles, made from recyclable materials and hence are expected to find appeal among people and corporates alike. Most of these can be made to order, in bulk quantity between 50 and 250 pieces. Corporate gifting is a major area where we expect our products to sell. Festival gifting is yet another great opportunity we are tapping into.
Why did you set up the company?
The name ‘Own A Masterpiece’ itself is an invitation to those who appreciate and would like to own pieces of art that are original, hand-painted and made of nature-friendly materials. Anand set the company up on the simple premise of providing art on articles that have utility such as pen holders, wall clocks and trivets, or those with significance such as pooja chowkis and decorative value like LED lights and paintings.
I was greatly inspired and determined to see the concept develop on a big scale as there was a lot of potential in it. That realisation and complete support from my family drove me to take a vigorous role in this venture.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Turning the OAM concept to a lucrative business was a very real and daunting challenge for us. It was easy to become sceptical about the possibilities of a flourishing business over such creative effort. It took effort and persistence to reach the stage from where we could finally see the payoff beginning to come. Then again, it is another challenge to keep the creative work going without feeling the pressure of achieving sales.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We achieved three goals from establishing OAM; making a successful venture out of original art and craft, bringing innovative additions into our range of products and remaining committed to the moral responsibility to nature and society by making our products with completely recyclable materials. We have successfully achieved these three goals with a single venture.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Of course, Mrs. Lalit, my mother-in-law is the greatest inspiration to us. Her passion for art never wanes and at her age, she shows much more vigour than many youngsters I know. Her artistic talent and works are the basic building blocks of the company.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
I won’t say I ace at it. But since I am as passionate about working at OAM as running my home, I barely feel the pressure, though there is the need to run around and get things done. My family is very supportive and since OAM is something that has my family involved, that becomes an added advantage.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
I frankly believe that when we think about achieving something, in realistic terms, it needs contribution from oneself and everybody who is going to be a part of the effort. That rules out the question of gender in an ideal scenario. But women need to show more determination and initiative and should also prepare themselves to skilfully balance home and their profession well. Women may still need to prove their calibre more intensely but should never lose heart and utilise all the support they can get to be professionally successful.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
My husband Mr. Anand is definitely the first name to mention. Parivartan, my husband’s company, gave initial financial help to OAM and literally shared its floor space for OAM to let my mother-in-law work on the creatives and the articles to be displayed and promoted. The Parivartan team also contributed to creating OAM’s online presence. My sister-in-law, Mrs Shruti Kulkarni, who hails from Mumbai, has also done much to help me stay determined and successful in my endeavour. She guides me to produce the best products and helps me maintain the quality of product.
Tree Huggers Club has given us a platform to showcase our products by participating in the Flea Affairs that they organise.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
What does the future hold for you?
We are looking forward to more enthusiasts and corporates buy OAM products. We are determined to get quality bulk business and more so by virtue of the artistic quality and innovation. We hope to have a more impactful social media presence and a substantial presence as a brand altogether.