[100 Emerging Women Leaders] How Kamna Hazrati overcame challenges and founded 3 startups
In an interaction with HerStory’s 100 Emerging Women Leaders, Kamna Hazrati, a business entrepreneur, consultant, and advisor, takes us through her journey so far.
Friday March 03, 2023,
3 min Read
A well-performing science student, Kamna Hazrati was expected to take the same career path as her siblings and become an engineer.
Did she want to be one? No. She wanted to pursue marketing instead. Was she given a choice? No.
This is the reality of most Indian students—devoid of choice and discouraged from following their dreams.
While Hazrati did manage to steer clear of engineering, she had to settle for a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Delhi for her parent’s sake.
Three years later, when it came to deciding the subjects for her post-graduation, she was clear about following her passion. She chose to pursue an MBA in International Marketing from the Delhi School of Economics.
Later, in her professional career, the shift from corporate to entrepreneurship came quite organically. Hazrati says, “I was an accidental entrepreneur. It was something which came to me, much like a calling.”
However, again, she had to proceed without the support of her family, who were unsure of her decision.
She explains, “I come from a humble background. My father had met with an accident when we were very young. My mother has been the pillar of the family ever since. She was a banker and wanted us to pursue service, where we could have a comfortable job.”
Hazrati gathered courage and took the entrepreneurial plunge. In 2016, she co-founded Giftsmate, an ecommerce platform, with Amit Sharma.
The desire to be an entrepreneur is rooted in her wish to build something on her own. She wanted to transcend the limits she had as an employee.
She says, “The shift was organic. It is something I discovered about myself along the journey, and honestly, I never had a clue that I was made for this.”
Today, Hazrati is running three D2C startups—Giftsmate, TheYaYaCafe, and Hopcara. She also works as a business advisor and marketing and strategy consultant with startups.
The journey has been an uphill climb, but she stands strong as a first-generation entrepreneur.
She shares, “There were times when we were not drawing salaries, the team had reduced to just two of us founders, and it was difficult. But no one in the family was aware of it.”
Growing up, she would hear comments that often belittle girls, such as families telling boys that they have a better understanding than girls, contributing to the prevalent sexism.
Cut to being an adult, Hazrati discovered the existing biases in workplaces.
She says, “At the workplace when you are a young founder, you are always hustling. You are the one who handles everything. Establishing your authority as a woman founder [often] becomes a huge challenge.”
"My co-founder is a male. People listen and understand him in little to no time, but when it comes to me, it seemingly takes them a significant amount of time," she adds.
She highlights how she relies on herself to battle the same biases and takes control when needed. When asked about her go-to strategy in doing so, she says, “There is some energy which you draw from within, and you just flow in it.”
Hazrati credits her mother for helping her become who she is today and advises women leaders to value their work and not indulge in self-doubting.
In addition, her advice is to turn a deaf ear to the classic “log kya kahenge”. She says, and we second, “We can be kinder to ourselves, and we can be more confident in our being.”
Edited by Kanishk Singh