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It has been well established that women are front-runners in their professional lives, they have made success stories of any venture they’re a part of and continue to make a mark for themselves in the world. What women entrepreneurship have achieved is well known. But the Associate Creative Director and Partner of GCD Studio, Shahana Jain‘s take on women achievers is not the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. How are they able to achieve their goals? What modifications are they ready to make in their personal lives? What impact do their surroundings have in their path to success?

Women Entrepreneurship

While enjoying a short break in the hills of Kasauli this weekend, I got some time to think about what women entrepreneurship means to me personally.

Every woman has her own way of structuring her life around what she wants to achieve. It is a function of her personal choices. If she wants she can find a way to balance work, home, family and children, therefore creating an environment conducive to success for herself and those around her.

 

For instance, GCD Studio is an all women’s team, led by a woman who believes there is no work-life separation. From bringing her children to work to taking a vacation to spend quality time with them, she has always encouraged the co-existence of work and life.

Women Entrepreneurship

In fact, ‘work-life balance’ (where work is seen as something outside of your life) is a misnomer. You find a balance when they are different. It is as much a part of our lives as anything else. I feel women understand their responsibilities well and can effortlessly juggle both work and home without neglecting either. Not to generalize, but because women are accustomed to multitasking they manage to get a lot done simultaneously.

Women Entrepreneurship
Women Entrepreneurship

A workplace truly becomes your own when you feel the freedom to be able to bring your personal life into it. Citing my own example, I recently had a baby, and not for a day did it restrict me from continuing with my work. I could work from home and have colleagues over occasionally to work with me on a particular job.

 

Being women we understand each other’s personal commitments and needs and therefore create a sensitive and supportive environment in the studio. It empowers us to move forward no matter what. When you spend more than fifty percent of your day somewhere, it ought to be your second most favourite place in the world.

Women Entrepreneurship

As entrepreneurs in the creative industry, we find ways to balance profitability with investment in people. So while being driven and focused on work we also devise ways to make the studio creative and engaging. Deadlines and client calls are interspersed with occasional time outs.

 

I feel as women we tend to add softer elements to the work culture, like we have saree days, we play a game of taboo at lunch, or take an impromptu trip to Dilli Haat on a winter evening. Professional skills are layered with new learnings, like a recent photography workshop in Goa. This goes a long way in establishing a healthier and more productive work environment.

Women Entrepreneurship

Broadly speaking, women by their very nature create a nurturing environment around them. To value each other as individuals, encourage their creativity and out of the box thinking, to be sympathetic to shortcomings that others face without naming or shaming them are essential to the growth of any organisation.

There is no room for hierarchy, we’re not ‘bosses’ or ‘employees’, we’re just people who get together every day to do something we love. A flat structure with no silos allows everybody to be involved with every job happening in the studio. Which further means that if one person is crunched for time, or has a personal emergency, the others can cover.

 

I find that women are more cooperative in a team environment and especially when there is a non-threatening work culture that isn’t based on competition and one-upmanship. Values like these make it a place you want to come back to every morning.

Women Entrepreneurship
Women Entrepreneurship

Having created our own unique work culture, GCD Studio continues to be among the leading design studios in the country. Having worked with an impressive list of clients, like the Oberoi and Trident Hotels, Lemon Tree Hotels, The Times of India, Spicejet, Daawat, to name a few, as well as playing a key role in guiding new companies like Veeba, Eazydiner and Farmveda.

 

We consciously keep a balance between commercial projects that keep the bottom line healthy and socially supportive projects, which we often do pro bono. Moreover, taking our in-house work culture forward we have been able to create long term professional relationships with our clients; some more than 20 years.

Women Entrepreneurship

To conclude, when women choose to become entrepreneurs, they mean business! They often have given up some stereotypical role or broken a norm to do this – so often have to prove themselves. That is what gives them the drive to succeed and even do things differently. Women see their workplaces as extensions of themselves and an important means to achieve professional as well as personal growth.

Starting from scratch isn’t that big a deal. Putting in your hundred percent, grabbing the right opportunities and administering patience go a long way in the evolutionary development of an idea. Gopika Chowfla shares her insight about the same.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand Identity for Veeba

After her graduation, choosing to work between 2 design studios and an ad agency to practice her learnings, Gopika joined the ad industry to do what she loved- illustration, logos, typography, poster making, packaging design and photography, and was mentored by amazing creative people at work like Frank Simoes and Mohammed Khan.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Logo and Packaging Design for Organica

The Genesis

In 1996 when the market was changing, print media took a back seat and film was reigning supreme. Being driven by the desire to be innovative and creative, she was not inspired by what she was doing and wanted to get into the realm of design. This gave birth to Gopika Chowfla Design.   Gopika Chowfla Design has evolved organically without much of a business plan or charting of a growth curve. The two driving forces for Gopika were enjoying the work she does and working with people who have the same motivation.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Packaging Design for Chelsea Teas

The Work-Culture 

A studio with the approach of making the clients’ job as own and this has helped establish long-term relationships with clients. Believing in a work ethic that is cooperative and in creating an environment that enables people to work and create in an engaging and supportive way, Gopika has always treated the workspace as a place of learning design as well as life skills.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand Identity for Spicejet Airlines

Her workspace is her life with her own children growing up around here and her colleague’s kids as well. Here, personal issues become shared events and everyone is welcome to bring their lives into this work space.   Gopika is proud of having created a space that has welcomed and nurtured as well as been enriched by some of the most talented and wonderful people. The result of this is evident in the output of the studio and the fact that people who have worked here never really leave.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand Identity for Spicejet Airlines

Growth and Expansion 

Gopika Chowfla Design was started as a dominantly print design studio but soon branding was their core strength. Getting into the digital space became essential and started extending their design services to web interfaces, primarily as an integral part of developing the total brand architecture as they like to approach brand development in as holistic a manner that they can.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand graphics and complete retail experience for Oxford Bookstore and Cha bar

Finding something exciting that challenges creatively, works as a starting point and is then executed in a manner that is fresh, logically thought out and beautifully designed.   When Gopika Chowfla Design was setup, clients typically engaged their advertising agencies for their brand and design-related jobs and these were done at very low fees by the agencies. So convincing a client to actually pay a proper fee to an independent design studio came with its own challenges. But soon enough a client recognized the value of engaging a designer for design specific projects as they got better, more specialized inputs. Seek clients who respect your work and give room to do what you do well.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Coaster design for Apsara

A Positive Outlook

Taking the challenges in a positive light as something new to tackle, it has never been a struggle to move forward. It rather is an enjoyable journey with plenty of interesting co-travelers and many important milestones.   With a young and agile team, we try and keep pace with changes that happen around us and respond accordingly. With social media being such an important part of communication and marketing, are into that area too.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Anya Hotels branding and design

Hidden Treasures

Loving what we do and letting the designers at Gopika Chowfla Design take charge of the assignments they are working on is Gopika Chowfla Design’s secret to achieve everything that they wish for. Making tow of her designers as partners. Gopika wishes to transform it into a cooperative where everyone is an owner, contributes to the earnings and takes a share of the profits.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Anya Hotels branding and design

Clients respect your work only if you respect it yourself. Figure out what you want your brand to stand for, be true to it. Don’t chase the money, go after the ideas and do great work and the money chases you! Surround yourself with talent and feed off it, so that it keeps you going when you feel like you’re drying up. Enjoy yourself, there couldn’t be a more fun job in the world – than as a designer.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand development for Apeejay Arts
Issue 44 - Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 44

Behind every successful studio, artist or designer there are stories of challenges, struggles and their unique solutions to these. With this issue, we interviewed many well-known names from the creative industry and found their different learnings and experiences behind making their own self as a brand. Though they all have a different take on this topic, still they all unanimously emphasise on focusing on their skills and quality delivery of the final outcome. So, if you are looking to establish yourself as a brand in the creative market or already in the process of it, this issue is a must read. Full of insights and inspirations from the best of the talents, this issue is waiting to reach your desks.

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