While we were still in college, my sister, Aarti, and I got an opportunity to train professionally to be Gemologists with the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). Hailing from the family that runs the Manohar Lal Saraf & Sons Jewellers, jewellery has always been a source of fascination, as well as a profession. During my 6-month training at GIA, my sister and I chanced upon a jewellery store, that exclusively sold opals and diamonds. While the diamonds failed to capture our attention, the coloured stones on display had certainly left my sister and myself smitten. We then, realized that there was no such store, dealing exclusively in coloured stones in India and the seeds for ML Natural Gems India was sown, at that moment.
Upon returning to India, I worked for 2 years at the parent company, doing all sorts of jobs like tagging, sales, etc. Later, I worked as a gemology faculty member at the NIJDT, Okhla, the jewellery wing of the NID. Coming from the conservative society of Meerut where working girl is still a strict no-no, with people saying ‘ladki se kaam karonge’; starting business independently was an unimaginable thing. But my fascination for coloured stones, support from my mother and father; gave me the courage to rise above all and start ML Natural Gems, in collaboration with my sister. I started with a dream of making an organisation which will be a niche platform for untreated coloured stones.
Then came bigger challenge of customer unawareness and practically no knowledge and understanding of the significance of untreated and unheated coloured gemstones. In the absence of this information, they were unable to understand why they need to pay a premium for untreated stones, while treated stones are easily available at a much cheaper price. The rare availability of these stones was not a part of their cognition, making sales more difficult for us. We developed ways and means of educating our potential customers to help them better understand the value of our products and work and started our journey to success.
My 5 year goal for the company and self is to develop a niche market and product line of untreated and unheated (more than 10 carat) gemstone jewellery in India. Inspite having created an identity for myself, I was still struggling for clarity
and “How” to move forward. SKC leadership program helped me in this regard through the life-changing tool of goal-setting. Setting goals every week helped me figure out what had to be done to achieve the goal and more importantly in how much time and for what reason.
During one of the sessions, my mentor Shalini ji, taught me the importance of delegation and the real meaning of ‘Entrepreneurship’. It was a turning point from where on I realized what I want and how to get it and my true role as a Business Owner. My self-worth and self-confidence increased many folds. As a result of these changes, I became a more positive, calmer, and an assertive person with a clear focus on my Goals.