Foodie, action junkie, artist, and wanderer – these are some of the words that best describe Deepti Kshirsagar. Deepti believes you live only once and she lives by this motto, so much so that 24 hours are not enough for her to fulfill all her passions.
Hailing from Karanja, a small village in Maharashtra, she spent her childhood amongst fisher folks. But her parents always encouraged her to shoot for the moon. In spite of her parental support, there were challenges. She traveled by boat for 2.5 hours every day, for about a year, to get to Sophia College in Mumbai where she studied design. At the time she couldn’t even afford the hostel fees and stayed with a relative in Mumbai.
Deepti took up a job early on which was part-time and that really helped her because, by the time she finished her education, she had hands-on knowledge about design. She dabbled in advertising in the beginning but in just in few months, she realized that her passion was more in design. She then worked with a couple of good design houses and finally joined Yellow. She was one of the first employees and soon was responsible for setting up the creative department there. Yellow was growing and so was she, in terms of experience.
“My role had transgressed from a creative head to a core branding team and that gave me the desired exposure to the strategic aspects of brand creations. It is here that we three met each other and got to know about each other’s professional capabilities. A lot had changed on the personal front too by then. I was a mother and that taught me an important aspect of efficient multitasking and juggling between the two things I love the most in my life – my daughter and branding“, says Deepti.
The Entrepreneurial Journey With WOW Design
Today Deepti co-heads a design, Packaging, and Retail Communication firm – WOW Design. Six years old and only getting stronger, they are now expanding their services to include Space Design and aim to be on the list of top 5 sought after strategic branding firms in India.
“I started WOW Design from an extra room in my Charni Road home along with Sai with just a laptop, and now it is six years old with a team of 38 people. After garnering enough knowledge and experience, it was about time that I put this into practice with a freedom to do things the way I wanted it to be. Design, especially packaging and retail was evolving in India due to the advent of modern retail formats and there were very few players in this segment. It was a very good opportunity to enter into the segment with value-added offerings where we could shape emerging brands and not just the big names. While I had a few good clients like ITC and Abbot on board due to my past work rapport I started contacting mid-size FMCG companies and started to induct them regarding the importance of branding. While I started it initially along with Sai, we approached Saswata as we were aware of his passion for marketing and branding and envisioned that it would add an edge to the marketing angle. That way we soon became a strong team of three professionals from three core competencies and that gave us an edge over the competition in the market.“, says a content and happy Deepti.
Like every start up the initial challenges were payment issues, budget constraints and building the trust of the clients. It was all about striking the right balance and the only way was forward. As Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Deepti firmly states that on the entrepreneurship journey you cannot give up. There are moments of breakdown time and again, and that is when you have to go back to the “why” to answer the “how”. Be patient and believe in yourself. As an entrepreneur you are contributing to the nation in multiple ways, so keep your eyes on the bigger picture and hold on to your vision.
Being A Woman
“My mom had told me at a very early stage in life that whatever you have learned in life will stay with as long as you keep sharpening your knowledge. That’s the only key to true independence. I had it ingrained, and luckily got a life partner who respected my work equally. It is tough for a woman because not many people take her seriously, the general attitude towards the entrepreneurial venture being – she is just working from home. Another issue is to manage the home front but I think women are born to multitask, rather I believe multitasker is a word coined for women. Creation, Incubation, Nurturance, and Managing come naturally to women. All she needs to do is bring out the weapons she possesses and forge ahead. So yes I have lived with guilt pangs putting my daughter in a daycare while I met deadlines. I used to make sure I don’t work after I go home till she is awake. Once asleep, I used to put up a big smile and get back to burning midnight oil. While addressing other factors like, getting a place, getting the service tax numbers etc, it’s your own confidence that will sail you through and yes I had more than that, a partner who believed in me. I managed to put a good support system in place on the home front soon and am in deep gratitude today for they make it easy for me to focus on my goal.
Now the eco-system for start-ups is much evolved and more women should make the most of it to realize their passion as WOMEN have that knack inherently in them. A family is to be handled with patience, make peace with your family and they will become your strongest support. Give up the OCD of your home being in perfect shape, take it easy.”
An Action-Packed Life
When not working, Deepti takes off on her ‘Wolverine’ i.e. her 500 CC Royal Enfield Desert Storm. Deepti and her husband are members of a Royal Enfield riding club in Mumbai called ‘Bisons Ride Hard’. Deepti loves nothing more than to be on the open highway, with the wind in her hair and the roar of the bike. Riding through the country, Deepti says, has enriched her on various fronts. From meeting the most hospitable, humble, people in the remotest parts of the country to avoiding highway disasters, riding satisfies Deepti’s need for speed and action in every way.
Apart from the thrill of riding, Deepti spends her time reading, especially regional literature as she treasures the rich wealth of regional language our country and culture has to offer. She believes our future generations should benefit from the same.
Deepti is passionate about everything she does and gives each of her endeavors the same level of dedication and commitment. Always keeping the flame burning, for her, hobbies are as significant as work and there is no such thing as ‘spare’ time. Every minute counts and should be used to the maximum. In fact for Deepti, pursuing a hobby polishes and adds value to her life, sharpening her skills at managing time, money and life better.
WOW Design has self-sustained for last 6 year but will be looking for funding in the future in order to strengthen the core of the business as well as expand in terms of location and service offering.