Fashion designer, baseball player, entrepreneur and mother - Beena Arvind's journey
This article is sponsored by Kidzee
Many working women take a sabbatical either after having children or because of other familial commitments. Statistically speaking, this is around 36% of the Indian female workforce. Interestingly, Beena Arvind trod a different path.
After pursuing a degree in fashion design, Beena wanted to realise her long-time dream of opening a boutique; but by then she was expecting her twin girls. A new business in retail would certainly mean working late, and like most mothers, she did not want to stay away from her babies for too long. So she put that dream on the backburner. It is said that if one door closes, another one opens and very often the new door leads to a far better destination. This is what happened with Beena.
She had taken her children to a Kidzee preschool for admission, and she got talking with the centre head. She was instantly drawn to the idea of starting a preschool herself. The positives, she realised, were many. She could spend her day with many little ones at a place where, along with some tears and a bit of chaos, there would be smiles and laughter galore. Little children’s infectious energy levels more than make up for the stress and high level of responsibilities of working with them. Another big positive for her was that the work was such that she could wind up early and spend the evenings with her family.
She set up her first Kidzee franchise in Marathahalli, Bengaluru in 2007. As a first-time entrepreneur, she received immense support from the Kidzee management. The tried and tested process that is in place for Kidzee franchise owners made things easy enough that she later started two more preschooling centres at Brookefields and Narayanapura. Her Marathahalli centre was recognised by Kidzee for three consecutive years as the best centre nationally. Beena firmly believes that we shape our own destinies. Life, for her, is a call to action, to make things happen and to do things differently. “Focus on the NOW, so that the future is something that you can look forward to” is an adage she lives by.
She makes sure to take an occasional break from work to rejuvenate and enjoy some time to herself. Travel is something she has always enjoyed, but since she started her first franchise, the summer months see her busy with admissions. So the Dussehra vacation is when she plans her vacations with her family. And Dubai is a favourite destination, since she finds shopping therapeutic.
Beena doesn’t feel that women entrepreneurs have it tougher. “Men are from earth, women are from earth. Deal with it.” she says.
Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him, or so they used to say. It would be interesting to see how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.
She herself feels lucky to have her husband Arvind, her companion and pillar of support, though out her journey.
This is her message for other women:
Be the kind of woman, whose getting out of bed each morning, brings the devil to say ‘Oh crap! She is up.’
This is for the woman who wants to be on top of the world.” Beena’s go-getter spirit probably stems from the fact that at heart she is a sportsperson. She played many team sports, like basketball, volleyball, and throwball, during college. She even represented the state of Karnataka as a member of the baseball team. She continues to set some time aside everyday for her fitness regimen.
The biggest high for her has been the personal satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of her staff. She has a team of 80 across her three centres, including teachers, helpers, drivers and security guards. Most of them have been working with her for a few years now and she feels like they are a family, having shared many ups and downs together. As is prevalent in the education sector, the majority of her team are women; this just goes to show how one woman entrepreneur can make a difference in the lives of many other women. These women have the satisfaction of enjoying their work and also the privilege of financial independence.
She has not offered daycare facilities at any of her preschools, because she does not want to compromise on work life balance. The financial cost that is the result of this decision is tremendous, but she believes in the old dictum of ‘money is not everything’.
Happiness is after all a collage of little moments, of waking up and feeling good about the day. Beena Arvind feels the key to happiness is approaching life as a child would, “On every blade of grass, there in an angel sitting, saying time and again, grow, grow! As we learn, we grow.”
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