Two Is Better Than One: 7 Ambitious Indian Entrepreneurs Who Lead Dual Lives

Seven zealous makers who’re not afraid to lead a double role — one for the dough, and one for the soul.

“You’re never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

As inspirational as Lewis’s quote might be, the truth about dreams is that very few of us actually get to live it. Life often comes at you hard and fast, and as you try and hurdle obstacle after obstacle to make ends meet, your life is over, and all you’re left with is a melancholic ‘what if’ feeling.

However, there are a few people who refuse to be content with the monotony of their day jobs. These are the people who choose to defy the odds by moonlighting and burning the midnight oil to make a second career out of their passions — which is nothing short of remarkable.

And if such an inspirational story is exactly what you need right now, then well, we at Engrave have seven of them for you!

1. Rebecca Nelson: Fresh Soaps

Having worked in the corporate sector for thirteen years as a designer, Rebecca Nelson was always passionate about painting, art, cooking and more. And thus, she explored soap-making about a year ago — and has totally fallen in love with it ever since.

Rebecca Nelson, Founder - Fresh Soaps

Rebecca Nelson, Founder – Fresh Soaps

On Leading A Dual Life

I am a visual designer for a tech company on weekdays and a bath and body products maker on weekends. My first experiment with entrepreneurship actually involved selling plus-size apparels. However, since it took too much time, energy, and money, I started hand-making homemade bath and body products about a year and a half ago instead. I’ve always loved cooking and baking, and making bath and body products is remarkably similar. The only difference, of course, is that you can’t eat one of those!

On Juggling The Two Roles

I am OK with taking baby steps, because I want to learn and experiment more with my products and business model. Doing things like this without any support could make it quite stressful — but I am blessed to have a family that supports me at all times. Scaling up quickly is never impossible. People sometimes laugh at me, because a successful person making soaps seems incomprehensible to some. For me, it’s what I enjoy. It makes me happy. It is 100% mine and it makes me proud of myself.

Words Of Advice

If you wanna do it, do it! Never doubt yourself or assume that you’ll find time to do it later in life. The time is now. There is no tomorrow. Either jump in and learn or learn and then take the plunge. Think big, start small, but most importantly, start first of all!

Shop Fresh Soaps here.

2. Rhea Ahuja: Artist

A Graphic Designer at Dentsu Webchutney, Rhea only graduated a year ago from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. A freelance designer and illustrator, she loves music, and other people who do.

Rhea Ahuja

Rhea Ahuja, lost in thought

On Leading A Dual Life

By day, I help companies troll people’s minds by making them believe they need a product even when they don’t. You guessed it, I work in Advertising: Dentsu Webchutney, where I make creatives for social media pages, comics for them and illustrations too! By night I come home and get in touch with my own client — myself — and create work that I want based on my life and experiences. To sum it up, it’s like that feeling when you need water even after drinking two pitchers of beer.

Rhea Ahuja Working

Rhea engrossed in her art.

On Juggling The Two Roles

It’s not easy to juggle the two in the slightest. But as an artist you need a space to be you and ‘nourish your ever hungry soul’ by coming home and just painting, or playing the guitar, or writing. I maintain a journal, because it helps me remember who I am. It allows me to keep my inner thoughts at the surface because work can get so hectic that you don’t even have time to think. Some nights I come home exhausted and don’t want to speak or eat, just sleep. But keeping a journal is more of a discipline, as collecting and examining my thoughts helps me ideate and get inspiration for my next work. It’s like exercise for your soul! Furthermore, it helps to keep an open mind with what you do, because you never know when it might turn into an opportunity. For instance, I was one of the first people in my school to start their own page on Facebook. Similarly, I was one of the first few people from my college to start putting up merchandise online too. It helps to stay ahead of the crowd by catching on to the changing winds and manoeuvring your sails, because what I did then made me stand out and that helped me with my work today. I’m mentioning this to you now because at that time people laughed at me for thinking too big and aiming too far.

Words Of Advice

Always believe in yourself. People think your ideas are too far-fetched or you aren’t going to be that one in a million, but you can be. After all someone has to be that ONE in a million, so it might as well be you!

Shop Rhea’s art here.

3. Vrinda Dugar, Art By Vrinda

An artist and designer based in Jaipur, 25-year-old Vrinda is the owner of the brand Art By Vrinda. While her entrepreneurial journey began as an artist, some export houses and design houses felt that her paintings could also be used as designs and motifs on apparel, lifestyle products, home decor, and furnishings. This was an epiphany for her, and she soon realised that she could use art in different creative spheres by tweaking it a bit, while at the same time, fulfil her dream of making a career in art.

Vrinda Dugar – Founder, Art By Vrinda

On Leading A Dual Life

I’m a designer by day and an artist by night. I freelance, and what I like best about it is that I’m not restricted to a nine-hour work​ schedule, or to one brand for that matter. I spend my day working and painting new designs and motifs and designing silhouettes. I need to dash off to their offices too, for presentations and discussions. So, evenings late nights and Sundays are the only time I have left to paint and complete commissions!

On Juggling The Two Roles

It requires two things: time management and a good sense of prioritising tasks. I usually plan my day once I’m up and have post-its stuck all over every available plain surface with reminders jotted on them! Though my work keeps me extremely busy, I enjoy each moment of it because I love what I do. I keep telling myself that I’ll rest when I’m dead! The biggest change that I’m proud of is that my work and current lifestyle has liberated me of the fear of being judged and has worked wonders for my confidence levels.

Words Of Advice

To those who enjoy leading dual lives — take a deep breath, clear your mind, manage your time, brace yourself to lead a disciplined life, and then take the plunge!

Shop Vrinda’s art here.

4. Vishakha Philip, D.R.A.M.A

A 24-year-old Malayalee-Christian born and brought up in Gujarat, Vishakha studied architecture and is currently working as a photographer and a content Writer. Photography, art, and painting are her primary hobbies, and that’s how her brand was born.

Vishaka Phillip

Vishakha Phillip – Founder D.R.A.M.A

On Leading A Dual Life

I am currently working at a Social Media agency as a Photographer, Videographer, and a Content Writer. My brand D.R.A.M.A was a result of me trying to make the most of my hobby — a hobby I took up while I was under depression. Through painting these bottles, I was helping myself be more active and creative. Initially, when I started to get orders, my parents were against the idea. Although I quit for a while, I resumed after being motivated by my friends. Not many could relate to it nor found it worth it, but for me, it was an extension of me and my ideas. Most importantly, at the end of the day, I was happy. I remember designing the logo and business card all by myself — something I still feel incredibly proud of.

On Juggling The Two Roles

As I focused on my brand and work full-time, I was usually only left with Sundays to get some quality sleep and family time! Gradually, I realised that my brand deserves my full attention if I want it to grow. So yes, it was difficult for me to manage the hours and at the same time, come up with new, innovative ideas. To make matters worse, when I entered the market, the first order I received was a fake one! Another incident that was a setback was my first bulk order which a friend had placed. The bottles were all ready to be shipped to Australia, but she kept postponing until she could not come to collect them, leaving me with a huge loss. Overall, though, it was a learning experience wherein I learned to balance and more importantly to stay positive!

Words Of Advice

Firstly, know that it’s okay, and not everybody will understand you. Accept the situation and don’t let the self-doubt or negativity creep in. Believe in yourself and your work even if people don’t. After all, the struggles and setbacks in life are things that make it interesting!

Shop D.R.A.M.A here.

5. Priyanka and Palak Lakhani, Lumbernotes

Two uber-talented sisters Palak Lakhani and Dr. Priyanka Lakhani co-founded Lumbernotes in Jan 2016. Priyanka is the crazy and Palak’s the logic — but to be more specific, Priyanka looks into the creative aspects and Palak handles the finances and Business Development. Although when all hell breaks loose, they join forces to become an indomitable singular entity.

Founders - Lumbernotes

Priyanka and Palak Lakhani, Founders – Lumbernotes

On Leading A Dual Life

Palak is a chartered accountant at a boutique investment banking firm and I’m a full time healer — or doctor, in muggle terms. We started this on a whim to do something fun and were inspired during a trip to Bali. A year later, we’re still having fun and are inspired to create our brand of quirk.

On Juggling The Two Roles

We’d like to paint a rosy picture, but the truth is we’re totally overworked, fatigued, and have no social life. I would not recommend this to the faint hearted, because when push comes to shove, the going can get pretty rough. However, having said that, when the brand does well, it keeps pushing us through all the madness.

Words Of Advice

Leave your day job! No, seriously. If you’re having fun, keep doing it, but if you’re not, don’t do at it all!

Shop Lumbernotes here.

6. Priyanka Thukral, Happily For You

A Marketer by profession and a Crafter and Artist by Passion, Priyanka started Happily For You three years ago with the simple aim to make a difference in people’s lives. She believes in spreading happiness in a way that impacts a person deeply, and aims to do that with her range of creative and unique personalised products.

Priyanka Thukral, Happily For You

On Leading A Dual Life

I am a Marketer by profession and I am currently working with a reputed company based in Gurgaon. However, crafting was my first love, and starting something of my own was always a dream. Happily For You originated with an aim to let people express themselves better with handmade and personalised products tailor made for customers. It facilitated establishment of emotional connect among people, and I believe that the impact a handmade product leaves on a person is unmatchable.

On Juggling The Two Roles

It definitely gets a little too much to handle at times, especially when you work with strict deadlines in both roles. In crafting, for example, the deadline for a birthday or an anniversary creation is as important as the ones in the professional sector. It’s imperative to build relationships with customers, not contracts. There have been instances where I haven’t slept for three days straight, working shift after shift to meet my deadlines. It can take a toll on one’s health too but at the end when you get messages like ‘Thank you! I loved it!’ it’s all worth it.

Accordival – Accordion Card – One of Priyanka’s innovative creations

Words Of Advice

If you can dream of it, go for it at full speed. There may be some roadblocks and setbacks, but start over and never back down. There is no bigger satisfaction than working for yourself and being your own boss. Start part-time if you can’t handle it all in one go, but never let anything stop you!

Shop Happily For You here.

7. Manissha Dutta Chohan, Cape Of Good Soap

A proud homemaker who’s a doting mother to two, Manissha doubles up as a media professional who also runs a venture called Cape of Good Soap, which was born nearly two years ago.

Manissha Dutta Chohan - Founder, Cape Of Good Soap

Manissha Dutta Chohan – Founder, Cape Of Good Soap

On Leading A Dual Life

I have been working as a GM Creative for a media agency for the past decade, and have been fortunate to work for reputed media production houses and channels throughout my career. However, being a creative professional, I have always had this urge to start a venture that nurtures my creativity. When I became a mother, I had this natural instinct to provide the purest and best products to my kid. At this juncture, I decided that nothing can completely convince me unless it’s made by me or under my supervision. Once I started making bath and body care products for my kid, my family and friends were curious to try them out. Their positive feedback gave me the confidence to go all out and start a venture that extends the purest of products to my customers.

On Juggling The Two Roles

The first challenge was to make time for my passion. As the business started growing, I needed to devote more time and energy while balancing my full time job and family. I realised that if one is passionate about something, willingly, time also gets managed. The second challenge was to market the products single handedly and expand my client base which got addressed through word of mouth once people started using them. I have tremendous faith in my products, as they are unique and every single piece is specially made for the client by me However, striking a balance between churning out quantity that gets us more business and yet trying to experiment with every single product that we make is the biggest challenge that I am facing currently.

Words Of Advice

Your dream is yours and yours only, so go live it. Nobody else can live your life on behalf of you. Don’t quit because you have to juggle two lives, but take it in your stride and make it happen. There is space for everyone to succeed, but the greatest joy lies in the fact that you stood out because of that one small idea that sets you apart from the rest.

Shop Cape Of Good Soap Here.

Rameez Shaikh

Rameez Shaikh is a twenty-three year old writer. With a degree in journalism to his name, he's an aspiring author with an absolutely astounding admiration for alliteration. Leisure propels him to read, dance, pen fiction and gloat about himself in third person. On weekdays, he works as a features writer. On weekends, he's a Manchester United fan.

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