Gunjan Nanda

Occupation: Content Strategist; Sustainable Entrepreneur and Creative Director of Vein Studio

Website: www.gunjannanda.com

Instagram: gunjan.nanda

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?
Way before I realised my passion in life, I always knew the creative potion in me would brew and get stronger as I’d grow up. When I dove headfirst into the fashion industry as a designer, things seemed complex but doable. As and when I progressed further, the passion I believed I had for creating new things got lost somewhere in all the chaos of life and it was only about paying my bills and surviving. It was only when I started to lose myself and got caught up in the madness of an everyday routine, I realised the need to work on something that was ALL MINE! Which was when my best friend and I launched our very own conscious label, invested all that I had and more, and just naturally flourished into what I’d always envision myself as – an honest creator. Through that, I also resorted to storytelling and content creation, which basically gave me wings to fly, HIGH! At this moment, I’m happy to pay my bills while also loving the work I do.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?
It’s honestly difficult to pick just one since women of our current times inspire me to such great lengths. Although, I would definitely take this opportunity to mention a boss lady I absolutely respect and admire mainly because of her work ethic. While I was still working full time and had a social media job for a start-up workwear label, the founder and creative director was the only one there who basically managed and ran the whole business on her own. Since I worked closely with her, I was responsible for the label’s daily operations, sales, client management, sourcing, apart from all things media related. She was one such woman I learned so much from that till this very day, I could say she shaped me into the woman I became today in many ways – be it entrepreneurial aspects, running a brand of your own, maintaining ethical and moral values, standing up for yourself, just being your unapologetic self!
Also, MY MOTHER has been an absolute pillar of strength in my life as I learned the value of hard work, importance of being financially independent and incorporating family values while being your own true self very early on. Without her, I wouldn’t have been a survivor, a warrior and a fighter for things that meant a lot to me in my life.

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?
For ages, we’ve seen that the youth or women in particular do not possess a sense of understanding as to what they’d wish for in life. That’s an absolute MYTH! We all are wired differently and some of us are brighter and wiser than the rest, experience matters to an extent but what matters most is how we live to see a better tomorrow, how we learn from our mistakes, broaden our horizon, help ourselves, and help others. Also, the constant need to achieve perfection, to live up to someone’s standards needs to stop! Its highly essential that we realise our worth, talk about our accomplishments and celebrate each tiny win with utmost joy. At the end of the day, we’ll only remember the moments that made us smile really wide.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
Just a couple days back, as I was conversing with a friend over call, I was looking back at all those crucial times where I couldn’t give myself the attention and love I so deserved and instead focused more on maintaining a perfect relationship with people and the world. I absolutely forgot that all these years, I was striving to become a better person only for myself, and not for them. And within these past few months, I saw myself blossoming into a version of myself I’d always wanted to become. I took back what was mine and the very moment of realisation made me feel so empowered and motivated to do so much more.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?
The kind of society I’ve been brought up in, women don’t (or can’t) really celebrate their personal or professional achievements since its looked down upon and pushed to the backseat. Its only when we’re either getting married or having a baby or do everything we’re asked when it comes to providing for a perfect family life, that is when we are the most lauded. So its not really the matter of shying away but our career, dreams and passions are not given the space to breathe, therefore aren’t given the much-deserved recognition, praise and celebration. Even though the mindset has changed to a certain extent, I still feel there are ample myths to be busted!

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?
Still working on that, to be honest. Most times, I simply respond with a ‘thank you’ or ‘so thoughtful of you to say that’ if the compliment is regarding my professional accomplishments. But if its something on the way I look or what I’m wearing, I usually respond with a ‘right back at you’ or ‘I love that look on you’. I honestly don’t know the best way to respond to compliments.

WHO WAS THE FIRST FEMALE TO TEACH YOU OR INSPIRE YOU TO FEEL THAT #YOUAREENOUGH?
I know it’s such a cliché but ever since I was a little girl, I was a huge fan of Taylor Swift. Not just because of her music but because of how she so loved what she did, carried herself, braved her way through it all and stood up for herself and her values when times got tough. Yes, her music spoke to me. Not just because it was relatable but because I felt the pain, anguish or the sheer joy and happiness behind a song and its words, this is how I resorted to journaling and writing out my own stories. I remember when I watched her documentary on Netflix just months back, I was in complete awe! She was this woman who defeated all odds, fought to own her creativity, her skill and most of all fought for herself to be here. I had an instant flashback of myself as that scared little girl who played her music on an mp3 player, hummed along her country-pop-folksy tunes, smiled wide and felt fearless. Flash forward to now, I’m not that scared little girl anymore.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?
I feel like we’ve been told, right from the very beginning, that we can never compare our capabilities to that of men. Its this mind-boggling myth and an age-old custom that we, as women, do not hold the power to do it all and come out on the other side as a strong, successful, together tribe and as individual forces of nature. Time and again, no matter how much we try and get back up on our feet and rule the world, we’re dragged down and pushed in the mud for being “different”, “weird”, or even “unladylike”.

The very power lies in us! By being unapologetic about it, by being bold, vocal, standing strong, shoulders up, looking, thinking, acting and walking confident. It’s not just the women who need uplifting, it’s the entire world, the mindset and the ‘cavemanlike’ myth that needs to be broken and redefined. We take that power in our hands by taking back what’s ours and what should have been ours all this while.

ARE WE TOLD ENOUGH AS YOUNG GIRLS THAT #WEAREENOUGH? IF NOT, HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS MESSAGING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TODAY?
Utterly disappointed to say this but no, we aren’t told enough as young girls that #WeAreEnough. It’s a whole other world for girls, in particular. We’re brought into this world with expectations and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Its ironic because all this while we’re told that we aren’t enough, however all we do is fight and power through till our last breath. Its like we’re born to be mothers, caretakers, nurturers, and providers but we’re never taught that we have to be enough for just ourselves. THIS right here, needs to change. As young girls and as parents of young girls, the awareness needs to come from within first. We need to talk more about women leaders, be it in our text books or bringing it up as conversation topics. We need to understand that a girl child isn’t a liability but your biggest defense weapon and a pillar of strength if you raise her right, if you teach her the importance of self-esteem and self-love, if you teach her that #YouAreEnough.

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE?
Oh, so many things I could tell my younger self. The most important one being – DO NOT ASTRAY FROM YOUR DREAMS. You are what you believe in and its really important to have faith, be patient and let good things come to you. There will be times when things get rough and rocky, but just remember, everything you experience in life is an endurance test. You fall, you get back up and try like a million times to see yourself succeed. Have faith, you absolutely will!

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN COMES FROM? IS IT TAUGHT?
Its not really taught as much as it is ingrained, since birth. I remember when I was a kid, I wasn’t that great at academics and was a rebellious little girl. I was constantly told to look prim and proper, behave like a decent young lady and get good grades like other girls or guys in my class. That feeling of being inferior than the rest and trying so hard to excel at something you can never be good at, was what I struggled with in my teen years. For a major portion of my life, I felt like I had to compete with other women to grow as a person and to show the world that I can be better than this. You know what I realised? There shouldn’t even be a competition to begin with.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?
Having a tribe of inspiring women with their own stories to share? I think that’s HUGELY important! I love that this platform makes for a safe space to have a curated collection of challenging, empowering, and uplifting journeys of women all over the world, from all walks of life. Success stories shouldn’t just be about career achievements or getting recognised by big names, success in itself means defeating all odds in your personal life as well, facing your fears and overcoming every obstacle with a steady aim to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so sure that the tribe movement will do just that for young girls and women everywhere.

HOW ARE YOU TRYING TO KEEP YOUR SELF-ESTEEM UP IN THE MIDST OF THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS READING THIS?
I won’t lie, there are good and bad days both. On the bad days, I don’t feel like getting up from bed even, binge-watch, eat not-so-healthy food all day, won’t even take a shower and would probably slack in a corner. On the good days, I finish my work way before the deadline, read a good book, do some house chores maybe, which makes me feel happy and productive. But yes, I realise now that any kind of growth is good growth. So, I would do the things that I really love and would continue to do so till the time it makes me feel content and at ease. I’d so recommend the same to everyone who’s reading this as well – we’re in a phase of evolution and change, from here on now, all we are going to see and would witness is growth. Do what you do, love the things you love, and give it your 100%! We might be in a pandemic of sorts, but it doesn’t have to be one within you.