…The first and most important one is to make your life decisions based on the kind of life you wish to create for yourself. We all have people around us who genuinely care for us and their protective instinct often keeps their loved ones from reaching their full potential. People judge opportunities through their own capabilities and what might seem impossible for some had already been done by someone with lesser resources. So if you have a purpose and you feel passionate about pursuing it, take the leap of faith and go all in to create your ideal future.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sejal Joshi.
A young female entrepreneur who turned her passion into a fruitful business while thriving to bring change for good through her philanthropic approach. Sejal Joshi is a Social Entrepreneur driven to support talented artisans through her business endeavors. She is the Founder of Sunshy Jewels & Sunshy Digital Media Agency. She is known for assisting brands and businesses in building their influence and reaping the benefits of a strong social media presence for a sustainable future of their business. When it comes to lead generation, advertisement & Influencer marketing no one does it better than her. She is a pageant winner, a business graduate, owner and Chief Operating Officer of a leading marketing and branding agency and now founder and CEO of a social startup, set to disrupt the industry with her unique business approach, all at the age of 21. In this interview with Sejal Joshi, she talks about her journey of trembling excitement, experiments, the creative pursuits and inspirations that helped her bridge the gap of conventional beliefs till becoming the women disruptor in the industry and unveils the secret of her success by sharing resourceful insights for aspiring young entrepreneurs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Thank you for having me! I was born and brought up in a middle class joint family in a small town to very supportive parents. When I was in high school I got an opportunity to participate in a pageant in which I was crowned as Miss Indore at the age of 18. After that, I was invited by many fashion brands as a judge in their shows and events which introduced me to the insights of the industry.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind and as I built some influence by being a titleholder, I decided to open a women apparel store with my mother. Using my contacts in the industry, I was able to get a lot of promotion and content through collaborations. Soon it started to grow and demanded more of my time and input which I was willing to give because I enjoyed the whole process from designing clothes to marketing the brand and collaborating with influencers. I had plans to take it to a bigger level but my parents always wanted me to pursue a career through my education because I was a bright student, they were supportive of my other endeavors as long as they were not coming in the way of my education. While pursuing a college degree and preparing for competitive exams to study abroad, I was not able to give the store as much time as it required, and eventually, my mom had to take over.
I witnessed the influence I was able to create by being a pageant winner and I loved the position and voice it gave me and for that reason, I wanted to go big. I then went to a top pageant training studio in order to prepare for the upcoming pageant of Miss India. This was the time when I met my partner from where things changed for me. He is an entrepreneur and works in the digital space, when I told him about my store and how I got clients using social media promotions and collaborations he was really impressed and proposed that I work with him and provide these services to his clients. From there we started working together and helped several clients in bringing them leads for their business and creating a strong social media presence. While working with some clients from the fashion industry, I realized that I could do the same for my own brand as I already have marketing and branding figured out and I would really enjoy the creative side of designing and presentation. We didn’t want to create just another jewelry store, our purpose was to support a cause and wanted our customers to own beautiful jewelry while contributing towards an attempt to bring change for good. That’s how the idea of Sunshy Jewels was born.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
I wanted to have a product that is timeless and can become an essence of any woman’s personality regardless of her age, size, race, or nationality which is jewelry. Having a cultural background from an ancient state of India, I had seen a lot of small artisans and their beautiful creations which travelers from all over the world would buy to collect and wear. With our brand, we support these artisans by providing them an online platform to make their creations reach the world and get them a golden value for their unmatchable skills and hours of hard work. We have a collection of uniquely handcrafted jewelry pieces that are one of a kind. 20% of net profit on the sale of every article goes straight to these artisans and the remaining amount is put back into the business to make our brand reach every corner of the world to eventually get more business to the artisans. Creations of such talented artists deserve to be seen by the world and thus we went for an online store where we ship worldwide. Every piece of this collection gives the owner a one of a kind, uniquely made jewelry piece and the fulfillment that comes with supporting exceptional talent and providing for their families.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we were just starting out, I was focused more on the collection, website, and marketing of the brand and totally underestimated the process of order shipment and delivery. We priced the product such that all costs can be included in the final price and our customers only pay the amount that they see on the product page, basically no additional cost. As soon as we launched we started getting orders and I failed to realize that local couriers have different price ranges for shipping to different locations and on a few orders at the beginning, we barely made anything and the delivery took longer than the promised timeline, that whole process was too complicated to manage.
What’s funny is that I shop online so often and know so many International courier companies yet I was struggling to figure out how to manage the order completion after-sales. Then I contacted a few companies who deliver my orders and was able to put a cost-effective and well-managed order shipment procedure in place. That made me realize that every aspect of a business is equally important and it takes a lot more than just good products to build and sustain a successful business.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Of course, there are so many. I don’t believe in following the footsteps of anyone and my mentors are not restricted to a few people. I observe and evaluate lessons and decisions of every successful personality that I get to know. Clichè as it sounds but I believe there’s something to be learned from everyone. I have taken a lot of inspiration about business and life in general from Patrick Bet David, Huda Kattan, Michelle Obama, Gary Vaynerchuk, Vishal Jain, and many more.
Ever since I met Vishal, he has been my business partner and mentor all along the way. We had an interesting conversation when we first met, I was telling him all about my plans for the future on how I wanted to build influence online and graduate from a top business school overseas then get a job to acquire the resources it will require to start a business of my own. He said if your goal is to eventually start something of your own then the best time is now. All these plans sound like excuses to create security because you don’t have enough faith in your plans. He shared his story with me about how he started from nothing with no money and was able to build a business using just a laptop and internet. He explained to me that I’m young and I should stop trying to play safe and create back-ups in case it doesn’t work out. That stuck with me and I decided to believe in my dreams and take the plunge. Some of the most important lessons I learned from him was to be fearless- focus on what you want and clear all the distractions, find a purpose in business that is bigger than money to keep going through those rough patches, and to be the best at what you do and never sell yourself short. I am still working on incorporating these values into my life and business and can witness a huge impact already.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Being disruptive is always good. According to me even if there’s a system that has ‘withstood the test of time’ there’s still a need to challenge it from time to time. Oftentimes some assumptions and beliefs have been in practice for so long that it’s been so deeply wired in our system that we don’t even question its relevance in today’s world. While thriving for a better world we need to challenge the traditional practices whenever applicable. Old ways can never bring new results.
Although, I believe disrupting is essential, what’s more intimidating is its effects which the entire industry and humanity as a whole experience. Thus, my advice to anyone determined to disrupt an industry would be to perceive it as the greatest responsibility rather than an opportunity. Bringing change in an industry or society, in general, is incredible as long as it’s done for the greater good. Disrupting an industry with the sole purpose of making personal gains and the effects of such disruption would leave the industry in a worse place than what it was when you got in is a ‘not so positive’ disruption.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Yes, the first and most important one is to make your life decisions based on the kind of life you wish to create for yourself. We all have people around us who genuinely care for us and their protective instinct often keeps their loved ones from reaching their full potential. People judge opportunities through their own capabilities and what might seem impossible for some had already been done by someone with lesser resources. So if you have a purpose and you feel passionate about pursuing it, take the leap of faith and go all in to create your ideal future.
The second is to “Never stop learning.” As simple as it sounds it requires a lot of discipline and dedication to put consistent effort into your personal growth especially after one achieves certain milestones in business or in life. Whenever you start to get into your comfort zone and your goals start to seem achievable, that’s the time when you need to reassess your goals and set the bar higher to keep pushing yourself further. The purpose of life is to grow wiser and once you stop learning you start getting just older. Wisdom comes from experiences and learnings, not age.
And finally to find a purpose in life and build a legacy that will continue to grow with or without you. I understand as young entrepreneurs striving to create a place for themselves in the competitive world, the initial goal is survival followed by a comfortable lifestyle but once you get these things out of the way, that’s when you decide what legacy you want to leave. What people are going to remember you for? There’s only so much fulfillment materialistic things that can provide a person. Thus, attach yourself to a purpose that’s bigger than you and create the change because this world needs people like that.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Well, the initial goal with Sunshy jewels is to expand our operations and get artisans from other parts of the country on board. We don’t want to stay restricted to helping talent from a certain part of the world. Thus, the goal is to create a platform where these artisans could display their incredible handmade jewelry piece and have the entire world as an audience to appreciate and own their creations. India being a traditional country is famous for a lot of such skills and talents and our goal with this would be to bring them out to the world and get them the appreciation and recognition they deserve.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Disruptors, regardless of their gender face challenges around every corner, and being a women disruptor in male-dominated surroundings, challenges are never-ending. However, the biggest challenge would be to struggle to be taken seriously. The part of the world where I come from, women still have to fight for their basic rights to education, to make their own decisions, to choose a different career path. They are expected to perfectly balance their professional and personal lives, and still hold full responsibility for their family according to traditional gender roles. But talking about the wider part of the world where women are in a comparatively better place rightfully yet they are not perceived as strongly as a man would be in a similar position. They need to be overqualified or perform extraordinarily well to get the appreciation from their surroundings which leaves women with almost no scope for making mistakes. That’s the biggest reason why we see so few women in business or in executive positions as compared to men.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
While nothing’s better than a good read but podcasts/shows are a great source to consume knowledge and information while multitasking. A few of my favorite shows/podcasts would be-
The Patrick Bet David Show: Patrick has turned his youtube channel into an online academy for entrepreneurs and comes up with a new video every week providing suggestions and solutions for real world problems in business for entrepreneurs which are not taught in any universities. I uncover various tactics and tricks to grow as an individual and expand my business operations through his valuable content.
Jay Shetty would be my other recommendation for indulging in the world of wisdom. Basically, he is famous for “Think Like A Monk”, where his podcasts and reads are mostly about tackling life and growing peace of mind and soul. We as humans witness multiple challenges and inconveniences, and his podcasts are glaringly insightful to inspire and empower our true wellbeing and happiness.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe the biggest help one can do to someone is to help them become independent to provide for themselves and their families and be in a position to even help others in a similar position if need be. Charity of any kind is a kind gesture but helping someone in a way that changes their lives and empowers them to help many others like themselves is the greatest. It ensures that the people you are helping will be in a good place even after you are long gone. Thus, if I could inspire a movement it would be to empower those whose purpose is to empower others. There’s only so much a person can do by himself so to bring the most amount of good to most people, we need to have more people who are driven to help others with education or developing skills that eventually can become a source of income for them and their families. Collaborate with schools or classes or any place or person willing to teach, provide them with necessary resources so they can take their campaign to the next level, and reach out to as many people as they can for help.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“In life, you can put a zero (0) for everything you want i.e. wealth, freedom, fame, success but the one (1) in the start will forever be Health.” While I totally believe in working hard and sacrificing for the things you want to achieve in life but one thing that’s non-negotiable for me and should be for everyone is maintaining good health. Anything you mess up with in life can be dealt with but if you mess up with your health, you’re not going to excel in anything else for a long time. And when I talk about health, it’s not restricted to just the body, a healthy mind is equally as important if not more. I come across so many young individuals working hard, almost burning out to be successful and to have all the means and better surroundings to live in but you have to live in your body for the longest time, so take good care of it.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!