Winning the world
As a part of the weekly column, we speak to city women of varied professional backgrounds who are members of Sakal Time’s Platinum Women’s Club
An art and design curator Aarti Naik founded Indo Lifestyles, a design, furniture and lifestyle firm in 2017 under the Indo Group, which is owned by her family. Indo Group is into manufacturing and servicing of marine and industrial diesel engines.
Speaking about her work, Naik, who also holds an MBA degree in International Business, says, “I curate furniture and then design the space. When I travel, I meet a lot of grassroot furniture manufacturers, mostly from Europe. I bring them on board as my vendors and offer their products here in India.”
Her family primarily dealt in the marine sector and built ships. “We did the interiors of the ship we built and were working with the Indian Navy on INS Vikramaditya. During that time, I got an opportunity to do the first interior designing project for the Rear Admiral’s Yacht. That’s how everything started,” she recalls.
Before venturing into interior designing, Naik had a successful stint in the field of international export for over a decade. Speaking about the change in profession, she says, “When we served the high end yachts, we got to see some premium interior design products. This prompted me to look out for these products and bring them to India. Slowly, the shift happened.”
She feels that every person has an interior designer within them as they always deck up their house in a certain way. “My latent passion for designing came out when I got an opportunity to travel,” she adds.
There was a family angle to her career switch too. “When I had my eldest daughter, I stopped working with outside companies and joined our family business. With the previous experience they were happy that a family member was a part of the business.”
The support from her spouse further strengthened her decision. “My husband is my mentor and my driving force. He is the one who pushed me to get back to work. Wherever I am today is because of his guidance and encouragement,” she says.
As for her philosophy, Naik says she believes that hard work, loyalty and ethics lead to success in everything.
‘Kian Casa’, a design house and gallery under Indo Lifestyles, will be launched soon and will serve as a platform for Indian and international artists from different spheres of design, Naik informs.
Amodel and actress, Namrata Dube has had a successful journey in pageantry so far. An HR professional with an experience of around 10 years, Dube ventured into pageantry by choice. “In 2012, I had participated in Mrs Gladrags and was one among the finalists. Later in 2017 I participated in Mrs Maharashtra and won the title of Mrs Maharashtra- Glamorous. And in 2018, I won the title of Mrs West India along with the sub-title Mrs Style Icon,” she recalls her journey.
Being a successful model, Dube has walked the ramp as a show stopper for various brands and events. Speaking about her modeling journey, she says, “I have been passionate about modeling since the beginning. When I was 19, I did modeling for Fuji cameras. At that time I faced around 86 cameras. From then on my journey in this field began. I did fashion shows for INIFD and a few designers. But after Mrs Gladrags, my career burgeoned. Now I am fully focused on it.”
She also has a few awards to her credit. “In 2017, I was honoured Adarsh Mahila Samajbhushan Puraskra and in 2018, I won an award of Rashtriya Bhakti Rashtriya Puraskar both in Pune. I am also a Brand Ambassador of Indian Icon Awards, 2018 from Maharashtra region,” she says.
Calling her mother the biggest source of inspiration, Dube says, “My mother never stopped me from achieving my dreams. She always motivated and encouraged me to follow my passion. Also, my husband supported me at every step.”
She says that she is a self motivated person and follows three Ds — Devotion, Dedication and Discipline.
MAKING WINNING PROFILES
Anjana Mascarenhas, founder and managing director of DIVA Pageant, mostly coaches married women for state, national and international pageants. She conducts three pageants under DIVA Pageant, that are rated among the top ones in India. “Mrs Maharashtra, that started in 2016, happens in November. It is rated as state’s number one pageant. Every year more than 300 women apply for it, out of which we choose around 50. Another one is Mrs West India, being conducted in April for the last two years. The final pageant is Mrs India — Empress of the Nation which started in 2018 with 32 contestants. This year, we had 42 contestants. It is conducted in August and is also a top rated pageant for married women in India.”
Mascarenhas has awards like Groomer of the Year 2016, Icon of Pune 2017, Rashtriya Mahila Bhushan Award and Savvy Women Empowerment Award 2018 to her credit.
Taking us through her journey as a coach, she says, “I ran a boutique at MG Road in Pune for 17 years. I was into designing and grooming. Once I decided to participate in a pageant but realised that there are limited pageants for married women. In 2013, I went to the USA and did a two-week course in pageantry because I wanted to bring that concept here. When I came back, I participated in a couple of pageants myself to understand what is needed for married women to participate in a beauty contest. After that I started traveling in India and abroad to train aspiring contestants.”
While she was training candidates, Mascarehas also realised that Indian pageants for married women are not of international standards. “Being the national director for Mrs Universe, for the first time, I sent Pune women to Mrs Universe in 2017,” she says.
A national director with Queen of the World, Mrs Icon World, she explains the course module. “I teach women how to talk, give their introduction, walk on the ramp. I teach them about stage presence, what to do and what not to do on stage and how to handle the question answers. The bottom line is how to make a winning profile for themselves. I also do a lot of wardrobe analyses with them as to what type of clothes they should carry for pageants and so on,”she says
DIVA pageant has courses of 10 day to one month duration. She adds that a lot of women from these pageants have now established themselves — many of them have become brand ambassadors and models while some have become groomers themselves.
Speaking about how much she loves her profession, she says, “This has been the most fulfilling job of my life. It helps in transforming lives and that is enriching. Also the blessings and love I have received over the years — nothing can measure up to that.”
For her, the passion for pageantry keeps her committed to this path. She adds that her husband has been her pillar of strength in her journey.