How Woman Entrepreneur, Ramya Rao, Is Reimagining The Fabric Of Freedom
Woman entrepreneur, Ramya Rao, is an artist, model, and SHEROES Champion who's living her dream through KALANECA, her handwoven saree business venture.
They say dreams don’t work unless you do, and this is the axiom that woman entrepreneur, Ramya Rao, followed while pursuing her own entrepreneurial dreams.
Dancing to her own tune and styling her own vision, she has come a long way in her entrepreneurial journey.
Meet SHEROES Champion & Woman Entrepreneur, Ramya Rao
Coming from a defence family background, travelling was a major part of Ms Rao’s life, and getting to know about various cultures was an exciting journey for her.
Although she attended engineering college, what interested her was the expression through voice and dance. At a very early age, she learnt multiple Indian classical dance forms.
Ms Rao's career graph has been full of opportunities and challenges. She worked as an IT professional, as a news anchor in the media, and later, while working, at a Fortune 500 company, new challenges and versatility in her career excited her.
Her journey from IT professional to entrepreneur
It all started when she wore a saree for the first time. It was a turning point and inspired her to become an entrepreneur. To show the world authentic handwoven weaves, KALANECA - the house of handloom - emerged.
This venture wholeheartedly celebrates all talented Indian artisans and their art. These artisans are taking their legacy forward and KALANECA is showcasing their hard work and talent to the world.
KALANECA is a blend of contemporary chic and handmade tradition. Ramya, and her twin sister Kavea, launched this venture as a team. It was their mother, Lata Rao, who was their inspiration to take this concept to reality, as she advocated wearing handwoven sarees.
Ms Rao recalls her first saree experience, “'I was five-years-old and I had to wear a saree for a dance performance.” She wore her mother's wedding saree that day.
A decade later she represented Andhra Pradesh on Republic Day Parade as an NCC cadet, where they had to wear sarees every day at roll call.
Army pants inside, tucking the saree outside, a new bond with sarees took form! Today she cannot imagine her wardrobe without sarees or a day without styling a saree.
These six yards of craftsmanship called a saree gave birth to a new vision and turned her dreams into reality sparking her journey as woman entrepreneur, Ramya Rao.
The most inspiring part about her sarees is that women can feel their power while wearing them and can express their personality through KALANECA's pieces. In return, their expression fills the artisans with joy and pride.
In a long journey like this, it is essential to have the right mentor who can encourage you to get through challenges and become a guiding light, says Ms Rao.
Creating social impact through sarees
KALANECA's vision is to work for the betterment of the weaving community with each passing day. Ramya’s venture is constantly working to bring the real art of the weaving community into the limelight, and provide a livelihood to talented artisans.
Ms Rao has also worked to provide educational opportunities to young girls. When asked about the feeling she gets in being a catalyst to someone's success, she says, “it is a very humbling experience. The twinkle in people's eyes and the smile on their faces makes the hard work worth it.”
Getting a new start with SHEROES
To quote her words about SHEROES as a platform, "SHEROES is going to be instrumental in shaping the entrepreneurship landscape among women in India. With a plethora of initiatives and a clear vision, SHEROES is sure to help every woman find her voice.”
Ms Rao is a big fan of the work that SHEROES does, along with the initiatives it takes on, and this is the reason she decided to join hands with SHEROES to become a mentor.
A one-of-its-kind mentorship programme
In 2020, SHEROES partnered with Google's Internet Saathi program, to launch the Internet Saathi Accelerator. This online accelerator supports over 500 rural women entrepreneurs via mentorship, digital skilling, and community support.
When asked why she agreed to be a part of this mentorship programme Ms. Rao says, "It is an opportunity to help create and propel the journey of many more entrepreneurs. A chance to create an impact in the lives of some superbly talented women, and get to learn from their experience"
Speaking of Saathis, our women entrepreneurs in this programme, Ms Rao recalls that when she met and interacted with them for the first time, her immediate reaction was that these are an amazing bunch of zestful women. She also hosted a Canva workshop, which the Saathis used to promote their work.
In Ms Rao’s own words, “I am glad to be a part of such an innovative programme that is a learning experience not only for the mentees but also for the mentors. When we interact with budding women entrepreneurs, we also get to learn new things.”
My sister is everything - friend, companion, business partner
Her venture, KALANECA, is the dream of two people that came into reality with effort, hard work, and friendship. Ramya and her sister Kavea share the same love for sarees. Today, we model for the sarees, do photoshoots and make a good team, she says.
When asked about how one can be more confident in sarees, woman entrepreneur, Ramya Rao, says, “Find your expression. The saree takes the shape of your personality, so allow it to flow. The moment you treat the saree as your second skin, it will be the most comfortable fabric ever. Experiment with styles and use it as a fabric of freedom”