Despite holding close to a quarter of all leadership roles globally, women entrepreneurs and founders have made a significant contribution to business growth, not just in India but also abroad. Organizations led by women play an important role in generating employment opportunities in the country and are also promoting sustainable development. Raishma Islam, designer and the owner of fashion label Raishma is one such entrepreneur making an appearance at the India Fashion Forum 2023.
Raishma believes that being a woman entrepreneur can be intimidating when dealing with dominant men who are not willing to give way to your ideas. This is something that resonates with many women entrepreneurs across the globe that have come out and spoken for the much-needed push against the gender gap in businesses. Sharing her personal experiences about dealing with a board that included men Raishma added that, "Initially it was very intimidating, but I was different then and not as confident as I am today."
In contrast to those men, Raishma says she had very supporting business partners, "Who supported me throughout my journey." This made a lot of difference for her especially when one frequently comes across men that are not comfortable with women taking the lead.
Being a woman entrepreneur anywhere in the world is difficult. Despite modern times, we still have men who are hesitant to let a woman take the lead or even invest in a company that is being led by a woman. Raishma, like many other women entrepreneurs, faced numerous challenges while raising funds. "It is very difficult to fight the patriarchy in society especially if as a woman entrepreneur you have to raise money. It is not just about starting your own business, it is about sustaining it in the long run, which can be very difficult for women," she said.
But, governments across the globe is realizing that there is a need to push women entrepreneurs. According to Raishma, this is because the success of entrepreneurs will boost the economy, irrespective of their gender. Even India is offering numerous schemes and initiatives for women entrepreneurs to activate partnerships among diverse stakeholders in the start up economy.
She also said that women today at any age can start their own business, “I am 50 and I am proud of being 50 and age is no more a number that can limit a woman from starting her own business.”
Raishma to enter India
Raishma who has been expanding her business is looking for a business partner here in India and plans to reach across cities in the next three years said that with the right partner she will not only be able to design and sell more affordable fusion dresses. “Currently if you convert the cost of my dresses to Indian currency you will be able to get dresses in the range of 6,000 to 9,000 and at the same time get evening gowns in the range of 20,000 to 25,000. Which is not on a very expensive scale.
Talking about her design Raishma said, “I started designing fusion before it even hit India.” Being a designer with 25 years of experience she has designed from sari’s to dresses and believes that sometimes the designers are more focused on showcasing the designs but not wondering how their customers will be able to wear it to a party. “My designs are different, I design my dresses with the focus that my customers should be able to wear the dress and feel beautiful about it.”
Raishma was only 10 years old when she decided that she wanted to be a designer. Through the beginning of her journey she always designed fusion dresses. They began with wedding and evening gowns and in 2020 when they realized that their evening gowns weren’t needed they decided to launch day dresses that cost below 100 pounds. Her brand issues sizes from 6 to 24 and is not bound by size or age. She had always dreamed of opening her own store and she achieved it when she opened up her first own store at the age of 25.
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