Meet the SHEROES - Huma Asgar
Huma Asgar talks to us about the various challenges she and her team faced when setting up Doodle Collection, a store that offers its customers some innovative and “cool” stationery. Let’s hear more about her venture.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I started my career in interior designing at the age of 20, with my own home accessories store. Post marriage, even though I continued my practice I also got involved in Almats, which was the family business specialising in commercial printing. Though not personally involved in the manufacturing, I was quite fascinated by the innovative products we were making for our corporate clients.
I started a new vertical of corporate gifting for our customers. That required a lot of international travel for sourcing and we would always land up visiting stationery stores in every city we travelled. The kind of concepts we came back with really appealed to our corporate customers.
Why did you decided to quit a full time corporate job to start out on your own?
I’ve been working since I was 19…this just happened.
How did the idea of creating “cool” stationery come about as a business idea?
Every international trip we took, we found ourselves spending hours at stationery shops and I kept bringing back things that aren’t available back home. That’s when I realised that there is a huge gap for stylish, well designed diaries in India.
I was fortunate to have a great team that trusted the idea and decided to work towards creating a range that would carve a niche in this competitive market.
What is an average work-day like for you?
My day is a mix of running the business and being a mom and fortunately I enjoy them both so even though the day gets chaotic sometimes, I enjoy every moment of it.
What other products / services do you plan on adding in the future?
Doodle is more of a lifestyle product than a notebook, it creates a sense of belonging by synchronising with the personality. We do plan to extend the range by adding many more products.
As a brand, we believe in giving back to the society. We are launching a beautifully designed range which is going to create awareness of the rich culture of India and its wildlife. A portion of the sale is going to be donated to support the cause of wildlife conservation. We are all very excited about all the new launches and business developments we have planned for this year.
In this field of work, what are the biggest challenge areas?
Before we started we felt that digitisation would be a challenge. Fortunately we yet decided to go ahead with it and have been getting great response.
When it comes to "start-ups", what are the most common mistakes one should avoid, according to you?
I think a realistic target should be set and then one needs to try your best to over achieve that. There is no shortcut and any new start up needs a lot of hard work, focus and determination but most of all it needs a great team of committed and passionate people.
Can you leave our readers with a few thoughts?
Today we are bringing up our kids in an age that is getting highly digitised. Though we are all seeing the convenience of it, it is important to bring in the right balance.
I recently attended a talk from a very well-known child psychologist and he spoke about the negative impact of over digitisation in our environment.
Its affecting our social behaviour, poor grasping and thinking skills, lack of personal communication and many such problems.
There was a recent study conducted by two psychological scientists of Princeton and UCLA, they tried a few tests and the results suggest that longhand notes not only lead to higher quality learning in the first place; they are also a superior strategy for storing new learnings.
So I am very confident that writing is always going to be a part of our lives.