As a Marwari born and brought up in Kolkata, Meghna Bhutoria was taught to believe that her happy ending would be as the ideal homemaker for a perfect groom. So she studied home science at JD Birla College in preparation, and did indeed have an arranged marriage.
But Bhutoria’s relationship with her husband was not happy. And though her marriage ended, it proved to be the beginning of a career that finally led to entrepreneurship.
Soon after her divorce, Bhutoria left her husband’s home in Pune and shifted to Bangalore where she worked at the world’s biggest agricultural company, travelling extensively to the United States and later, working in Switzerland.
But she still missed something. “After my 15 years of corporate life, I could afford a 100 Euro meal but the guilt of not giving back to my country, my city, was holding me back,” she says.
Finally, when her mother fell ill with cancer, Bhutoria quit her job and moved back to Kolkata where she contemplated setting up her own enterprise, a maker’s workshop.
“I wanted to create and open a space for hand work,” says Bhutoria, explaining her enterprise named Maker’s Loft. “I wanted young people and children above the age of seven to learn to work with machines and tools and create stuff on their own. We also work with adults.”
People think they can bully me because I am a woman, but I am too strong for them
Though Bhutoria does not lack work experience in responsible positions, she admits that setting up a business in India is something else entirely. “Working in India, in Kolkata, is difficult,” she says. “After living abroad for many years, I had forgotten how tough our country’s working environment is. People walk in and try to harass me, and advise me on my activities. They think they can bully me because I am a woman, but I am too strong for them.”
In a country as patriarchal as India, Bhutoria is not the only woman to experience such harassment, but she ignores it. She knows she’s come a long way; she will not let anyone put her down.
If only the tools in her maker’s workshop could help all women create the same level of confidence.