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Mindful Capitalism

Mindful Capitalism

Rachana suri

Madison Avenue Executive to Socially Responsible Business Owner

Rachana Suri,

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A Little About Me

After being laid off from the corporate Ad world of Manhattan I went on a life changing journey that led me to find my passion, my voice, and the strength to start my own business. I had already planned a trip to London for my cousins wedding and since the job market was dismal, I decided to sublet my apartment and travel through Europe for a little while, maybe a month or so. One month slowly turned into five months as I traveled around Europe, living in different cultures, eating wonderful local foods, and meeting many interesting people. I meditated, I wrote, and I came to peace with who I am and where I am in my life. Removed from an overly stimulated and marketed culture I was able to find my voice, not the voice of what others thought I should be and where I should be. Through this journey I learned to live life from the inside out and not from the outside in. I observed the world around me, and I felt Awakened.

Hearing my Voice

One thing that accelerated my awakening process was learning to live within one suitcase and on very limited funds, this was in complete opposition to the years I mindlessly spent money feeding my walk in closet to instantly gratify myself. With my walk-in closet full of lovely name brands that even Carrie Bradshaw would be jealous of, I was able to spend mindless hours deciding what to wear. One thing I never thought about was how these clothes were made, who made them and what the profits of these products were supporting.

Being on this journey, I learned to be mindful about money, space, food. Everything I did was in conflict to the consumer driven coma I was used to living and working in, I was finally awake. It made me realize how much we hide behind consumption and buying, without too much thought to where our money goes after it leaves our hands. In my journey with myself I have learned that mindlessly spending money on items that are mass produced by corporations who may or may not have the same values I have, was not consistent with being aware and mindful. My money has power and I can choose to spend it in ways that I value and what I see as beneficial to us, the world, and the economy. A large part of corporate goods come from countries where people are subjected to poor working conditions and have few rights so that corporations can cut their expenses, increase their profits, so they can ultimately disburse their wealth internally. Value is not placed on people, environments, or their manufacturing process, instead money is spent on huge ad budgets to sway consumers to buy their products in the illusion that it will fill a void that they originally created by producing the ad in the first place.

My favorite example of this is Burberry. They are branded as an “Iconic London Brand”, but in reality in 2007 they shut down most operations in England and moved their manufacturing to China. Here they license out their products to be produced so that they do not have to take responsibility for their production process. Yet since 2007, their dividend earnings and profit after taxes has steadily increased, while prices of the products remained the same. By moving operations, they were able to see unprecedented growth during one of the biggest global economic meltdowns in history. Don’t get me wrong I love fashion, I always have. I love to feel like a diva and glamorously walk down the street, but just like what I eat, organically grown food from local farmer markets that support local growth, I want to purchase fashion from places that are more in line with my values of supporting human development over profit.

My Aha Moment

Throughout this trip I was also finding small designers along the way who created unique accessories that help me update my well worn outfits. Upon my return to New York City I began creating my own accessories and began selling them at shows. This is when I realized that although there are so many wonderful designers in the world, there is not a high quality outlet where, like a consignment shop, designers can sell their goods, by pooling together to maximize their marketing and overhead costs. I hope at to be a place where mindful consumers can purchase luxury goods from passionate designers. Here we support designers that preserve their integrity, their style, and their production process. I hope with this business that we can hopefully start to think a little more about how much power our money wields. At consumers can begin to utilize the power their money has by buying from local designers versus corporate giants.

Mindful CapitalismWhere I am Now is currently in its infancy, but even now we are working on creating our own job creation program. We have now hired several seamstresses to help make the handmade scarves, a social marketing expert, a SEO expert, photographers, video editor, and graphic designer. went live on December 15th, and we are shooting to begin a strategic marketing campaign to begin growing the business. Soon we will be adding other designers as we finish legalities.

The way I have been growing the company has been on the consistent input of revenue received. I started with about $50,that made me $400. I then took $1100 and made it into about $10,000. This is when I invested into a site, now that my site is live and my inventory is much larger I am hoping to take that revenue to grow the business for my spring collection. I am hoping to reach a goal of $100,000 by the end of this year and have sales projections at $500k, $1M, $2M, $4M over the next several years.

Obstacles and Lessons

Starting a business is not an easy task, I was a VP at one of the largest advertising companies in Manhattan, and decided to leave that all behind to begin my own business. It has been a huge life changing experience and every day I learn something new about myself. Having faith in yourself, courage and strength everyday is not an easy task. To keep the final vision in mind while the daily ups and downs occur is not for the faint of heart.

I always keep this quote in mind from the Buddha, “a bucket gets filled one drop at a time”. That’s how I view the business, just doing things one drop at a time. It will eventually get there. I have weekly meetings with myself to set targets. Daily task lists that I work on diligently all day. I utilize the lists to set daily appointments for myself to work on specific projects for set time periods as to not just focus on one task at a time. This is the best advice I can give anyone starting a business, time management is crucial, and I set up my days like I used to set up meetings in the corporate world.

Working alone at home is not easy either, there are several ways I have been able to manage this. I usually have the TV or radio on in the background. I frequent coffee shops, many of them have other home based business owners and you begin to create a great office space, where people truly help each other with ideas, what worked for them and what did not. Lastly, business groups. I am part of this Entrepreneurs Social Group and it has been amazing for feedback, friendships, and moral support as we are all in the same boat.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is what you think will take one day will usually take three. Managing my expectations about how long I believe a task should take and what it truly takes maybe because of issues out of your control, is always important to keep in the back of your mind. To all other businesses starting out, remember there a lot of people that talk the talk, but few walk the walk.

Rachana Suri

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